The Neapolitan Novels

What can I say about these four books that hasn’t already been said?

Not much as it turns out.

Well, a certain amount of much-ness. They’re brilliant. They’re frustrating.

I read the first two voraciously, cover-to-cover, immersed in the texture of Elena Ferrante’s prose.  The last two I skimmed.

I waited for the structure of the story to emerge … then I remembered why I don’t read books in this genre very often.

With a certain amount of frustration, I uncharitably concluded at the end of the four books, that the story could’ve been done in two. Traditional ‘literature’ just isn’t my thing.

So why did I persevere?

I wanted to know how the story ended, which it didn’t, have an ending, I mean. And I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Now I know.

If this genre is your thing, you’ll love the Neapolitan Novels, if not? Maybe like me you’ll appreciate them for what they are.


More Toni Childs …

16 comments on “The Neapolitan Novels

  1. Do you mean ‘literary’ as the genre?

    One end of the literary spectrum seems to see value in stories with no ‘story.’ Is that where, in your opinion, this is? Character study? Slice of life? Stream of consciousness? The friend who talks too much?

    I must have plot, and can’t read stuff for its ‘beautiful prose.’ No traditional story structure, with events leading to more events and revelations, and I quit. I want believable characters – so I can relate to at least one person in a story. There are novels where you can’t identify with anyone – I say that for that, you have politics. (For the record, I don’t have problems choosing between candidates. I meant the endless arguing.)

    I have the same standards for movies – gimme a beginning, middle, and end – not boring – that leads to a conclusion about the events. Persuade me your world view is at least plausible, if not THE way. Oh, and make it ABOUT something. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d never heard of these and had to click over and see what they were. Based on your post and Alicia’s comments…Um…I’ll skip them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read the first avidly, skimmed through the second, and then balked.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ktcwrites says:

    from the comments i won’t bother either. life is full of drama, we don’t have to actually work to hard to find it. and if you write fiction you don’t have to exaggerate very much to make your characters believable. just look a the US election.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read a 4-book series that could’ve/should’ve/wished it had ended at book 2. Like you, I read the rest of the series to find out how the story ended. Book 4 was so disappointing in tale, I was a bit angry at the author for wasting my time. lol I read a bit of the description of the Neapolitan Novels. From what I read it sounded interesting, but right now I’d rather eat some Neapolitan ice cream.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      It’s an interesting snapshot of the culture of the late 50’s – 90’s Naples, and the political turmoil of the time in Italy, but as for a story, not so much. 🙂


  6. That’s too bad. I’d heard a lot of good things about the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Olga Godim says:

    I rarely enjoy literary fiction as well. I tried the first of Ferrante’s novels and couldn’t even finish it. I was so bored. On the other hand, “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” is considered literary – maybe because no other genre applies – and I inhaled it.


  8. This is really helpful. I think I’ll try the first book, and see how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

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