It’s been more than a year since the release of the tremendously satisfying finale to the Neapolitan Quartet, THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD, and Elena Ferrante’s name is still on everyone’s lips.
Simply put, the quartet was unlike any writing I’d encountered: an unsparing look at the frenzied, sometimes ugly interior lives of two women and how complicated, yet deep and giving, a love/hate friendship can be. It didn’t shy away, it didn’t beautify, and it propelled you forward with such ferocity that putting down the book felt like hitting the brakes and sitting, dizzied, for however many moments you needed to gather yourself.
Who wouldn’t want more of that? Here’s where to turn when everything else pales in comparison.
This post, written by Elizabeth Ireland, originally appeared on Glommable.
If you don’t know, now you know. Elena Ferrante’s most recent work is a nonfiction glimpse into her private writing workshop. We are truly blessed and that’s all there is to say. If you haven’t already, go read everything she’s ever written. Amen.
This thrilling novel from bestselling Irish novelist Catherine Dunne is like if you took the Neapolitan Quartet, condensed it into one novel, and separated the lives of the two leading women (who nonetheless influence one another’s lives, without even realizing it). Truly a must-read for Ferrante fans.
Decades before Elena Ferrante gifted us with Lenù and Lila in her Neapolitan novels, Carmen Laforet gave us Andrea in NADA. he works have a great deal in common: in both, passionate young women try to wrench themselves from the poverty and close-mindedness of their society. The specter of World War II looms over both books, along with the reality that for many that war never ended but continued on in broken hearts and crooked streets all across Europe.
Read the full review of NADA here.
Frenzied and unforgiving, this gorgeous, dark, difficult book is worth sinking into (and you will need to let yourself sink in). Just like with Ferrante’s work, I found myself not breathing for long passages at a time. Maybe not great for your physical health, but unbeatable mentally.
Read the full review of A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING here.
You might mistake this book for a quiet pastoral, but it’s so much bigger than that. The internal lives of the women passing through and lingering in the house near Fingerbone are by turns haunting, exhilarating, and, ultimately, profound. It’s also just a teensy bit mystical, as if the house is constantly surrounded by fog.
I’m obsessed with books that combine memoir with cultural studies, and this one is at the top of my TBR list. In THE ART OF WAITING, Belle Boggs contemplates her own story of infertility alongside a story that unfolds through pop culture, nature, history, and more.
Everyone felt some quiet justified rage when they finished reading Elena Ferrante’s quartet, right? Reading this essay collection was gratifying and restorative. The genius Rebecca Solnit recognizes and deconstructs scenarios that far too many women have experienced (in the titular essay, she recounts how a man once explained the plot of her own book to her). It’s funny and sad and smart and stokes a righteous anger in all the right ways.