January 26

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Ok, 2020 was a year of complete you-can’t-make-this-sh*t-up crazy, but for me – truth be told – it wasn’t that bad. Actually it was pretty nice. There was alot to be happy about and then, ta da, I scored a cherry on the cake moment because I beat Ms A to this beauty so hoorah for me.

A downside (actually there is only one) of writing Readhead is from time to time, I miss out on a book I really want to read which of course doesn’t mean I can’t read it later. But Ms A and I are connected in a strange twinish/bookish way meaning when I read her reviews, I feel like I have read that book as well. And then I carry on like I have…..

Long story long, I missed out on Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend so was not going to snooze and lose this time.

Remember in my last post I talked about twice laying in bed all day reading over Christmas. This book caused the second bed-fest. I fell into this story and wasn’t prepared to climb out until the last page. I completely crossed over, or as Elizabeth Gilbert so famously said ‘attraversiamo’ and I was happy as an Italian clam.

One day Giovanni overhears her father calling her very ugly. Crushing to anyone but particularly devastating to a teenager. It is a description he uses against his estranged sister so while the comment breaks Giovanni’s heart it sets off a desire to meet her demonised aunt – in part to punish her father, in part to learn the truth and if her fate is tied to Aunt Vittoria’s.

Their meeting opens a door to a world unknown to Giovanni. She comes from the heights of refined Naples while Vittoria lives in a darker Napoli filled with vulgarity but because it’s a part of Giovanni’s family and her history it becomes utterly intoxicating.

Giovanni straddles these two worlds as each one falls apart with great chunks of her family, her home and friends breaking off along the way.

Ferrante’s gift is taking you deeply inside the mind of a teenage girl. I vaguely remember what it was like myself but I definitely recognise the ups and downs courtesy of my own glorious girl now carefree at 22. That hell-scape, those silent, angst-ridden times are past us and blessed-be-the-fruit, we had a pretty reasonable run. No arrests. But holy dooley, how do we all survive adolescence? The moods, jealousies, tears, tantrums, the disappointments, the crushes and oh those first clumsy kisses. Ew.

Let’s not even talk about the haircuts.

All of it is not for the faint of heart but for the love of pizza, you’ll be awash with the wildness of all these Italians. Life half way they do not do. I lapped up being a part of their loudness and brashness and I hardly noticed there was almost zero talk of their spectacular food. That my friends is how good this book is.

Please grab it, lock the door, pour that chianti, grab those olives, attraversiamo with wild abandon and I’ll see you on the other side.

And that is my 2 cents worth.