These four books chart the lives of two young girls, Elena and Lila, who grow up together in 1950s Naples. The nature of their friendship as children unfolds in the first book ‘My Brilliant Friend’. They both live in a poor but bustling neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city and both dream of escaping it, whether by marriage or education. As they grow up and grow old (through the next 3 books in the series) the push and pull of their relationship and the changing power they exert over each other continues to be felt and to impact on the course of their lives.
I have to say I almost didn’t read the whole series. I enjoyed the first book ‘My Brilliant Friend’ but no more than that. It didn’t make me want to pick up the next one ‘The Story of a New Name’. But a friend who had read it, forced me to. And I’m so glad she did because I became obsessed with the rest of the series. The story of their friendship is so moving and difficult, painful yet heartwarming and you become totally immersed in their lives. By the end of each book I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. If like me, the first book left you rather lukewarm…keep going. You’ll love them.