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The Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost Child

Book - 2015
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Overview: 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.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2015
ISBN: 9781609452865
Call Number: FICTION FERRANTE 2015
Characteristics: 473 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-- Translator


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Jan 02, 2021

Book 4

Oct 08, 2020

The love hate story begins, Starting with the brilliant Lila who had no chance at education, to Elena who did become a writer and well known, but lost her first love to Lila. This continues throughout their lives with all the politics and crime that is part of the culture. Growing pains of Italy and the Death throes of old culture.

Sep 16, 2019

I loved this series (and the HBO version). This seems like it should be required reading. European living is so interesting. I love the cultural and food aspects. Author is excellent at articulating the highly complex relationship of 2 best friends as they age through life.

May 13, 2019

The audio series was good, the reader, Hilary Huber has a calm, dry cool touch which I think exudes the type of character that Elena is. But of course it isn't perfect there we times that I felt pushed away from the story because the voice was off. For example when doing small female children, they sounded a lot like valley girls. There was also some way that I felt Lila's voice was made to be much angrier or colder than the text indicated for example if the text said, Teasingly, or ironically she sounded angry. However, it mostly flowed along carrying many tremendous emotional tensions. This quartet, as are the others books, are like a memoir might look if we could all get out of ourselves, every nitty gritty detail of our lives.

Feb 12, 2019

These are some of the best (and definitely the angriest) novels I've read in my life. What a rich, complex and infuriating universe these novels reveal, in some of the best writing of our times. I've read other works by Elena Ferrante, which are just as accomplished and written with the same fury, but what a rare treat to read a quadrilogy that is so excellent, and where the quality of the writing never once wavers over four incredible volumes. I hesitate to use the word 'feminist', to describe this series, for fear of ghettoizing these works of astounding literary accomplishment by any standard, but that they're feminist works is only a bonus feature of a profoundly satisfying reading experience. Certainly, if you have ever wondered what a brutalizing and frustrating experience it was to grow up working class, female, yet incredibly smart in 1950s Italy, with all the violence and circumscribed opportunities such status entailed, have I got the series for you... And hats off to translator Ann Goldstein, who renders it all to us readers of English so incredibly.

Jan 09, 2019

.....and sadly my journey with Elena and Lila came to the end, with this fourth and last instalment of Neapolitan quartet. From the book one to book four, not only that you follow two friends from childhood to old age, you also learn about people of that era and witness Napoli's socioeconomic condition too. There is no way that these books are pure fiction. So many details, so many events and so many colourful characters are testimony of somebody (author most likely), who was born and lived in that society.
Go ahead and read these 4 volumes with 4 established theme:
volume one:development of resentment and friendship in childhood
volume two: limitations of social boundaries
volume three: compromises and confinements of marriage and
volume four: establishment of regrets in old age.
And don't rush it.....savour it slowly .....

Jul 27, 2018

If you like soap operas, you will like this and the three preceding books.

jr3083 Mar 14, 2018

This is a four-part story, released at one volume each year between 2012 and 2015. Set in a poverty-stricken section of Naples in the 1950s, it is the story of a friendship between two women, Elena and Lina.
At times I found myself wondering whether anything really happened in these books. Is the whole thing just a souped-up soap opera, I wondered? But occasionally, I'd just sit bank and think- Yep, this woman sure can write. There's a huge scope of time encompassed in these books. The plotting of the series of books is masterful, clearly planned in its entirety from the opening pages of Book 1 which tie in so neatly with the closing pages of Book 4. This isn't a saga with one book added after another once they began to sell well: no, it's a complete whole, conceived as a unity from the start. It was always a little difficult to start each volume after a break, but about half way through each one , she'd put her foot to the metal and it was unputdownable.

I have loved these books. They capture so well the ambiguities of a close friendship, and they mark the passing of time and the 20th century development of Naples, with the chains of past family enmities and the allure of modernity. I flipped through the advertisements for Ferrante's other books at the back of the volume. No, I don't want to read any more. They sound too much the same. This was just perfect, just as it is.

For my complete review, see

Bunny_Watson716 Aug 14, 2017

The final book in the Neapolitan Quartet. I have loved all of these novels, especially the emotional development of the characters. The ebb and flow of their friendship, the ties to their old neighbourhood that they can't quite escape and the social changes in Italy at the time are all vividly described.

Aug 07, 2017

The Neapolitan Books are at the top of my "Best Books I've Ever Read" list. Even while reading the first, "My Brilliant Friend", I felt not only as though I knew Elena Greco intimately, but her neighbourhood, parents and childhood friend Lena Cerullo as well. The reader will discover the violence, passions and traditions of this rundown, working class environment and how Elena is repulsed, inspired and drawn to it. The complex friendship with Lena through the years from childhood to "Old Age" has been written with deep psychological insight.

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Apr 25, 2017

Every intense relationship between human beings is full of traps, and if you want it to endure you have to learn to avoid them.

Apr 25, 2017

I can't believe it myself. I've finished this story that I thought would never end.


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