“Nothing quite like this has ever been published before,” proclaimed The Guardian newspaper about the Neapolitan Novels in 2014. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book in the series, was an international best seller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Its author was dubbed “one of the great novelists of our time” by the New York Times Book Review. This fourth and final installment in the series raises the bar even higher and indeed confirms Elena Ferrante as one of the world’s best living storytellers.
Here is the dazzling saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery uncontainable Lila. In this book, both are adults; life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. Through it all, the women’s friendship, examined in its every detail over the course of four books, remains the gravitational center of their lives. Both women once fought to escape the neighborhood in which they grew up—a prison of conformity, violence, and inviolable taboos. Elena married, moved to Florence, started a family, and published several well-received books. But now, she has returned to Naples to be with the man she has always loved. Lila, on the other hand, never succeeded in freeing herself from Naples. She has become a successful entrepreneur, but her success draws her into closer proximity with the nepotism, chauvinism, and criminal violence that infect her neighborhood. Yet somehow this proximity to a world she has always rejected only brings her role as unacknowledged leader of that world into relief. For Lila is unstoppable, unmanageable, unforgettable!
Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, this story of a lifelong friendship is told with unmatched honesty. Lila and Elena clash, drift apart, reconcile, and clash again, in the process revealing new facets of their friendship.
The four volumes in this series constitute a long remarkable story that readers will return to again and again, and, like Elena and Lila themselves, every return will bring with it new discoveries.