Tag: Books: Italian Literature

Review: The Story of a New Name

Posted 8 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Story of a New Name (L’amica geniale #2)
By: Elena Ferrante
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

The second book, following 2012’s acclaimed My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other. With this complicated and meticulously portrayed friendship at the center of their emotional lives, the two girls mature into women, paying the sometimes cruel price that this passage exacts.

You may have seen me mention this on Twitter last month but #FerranteFever is real, you guys. I read My Brilliant Friend (review) and this book in more or less one day and started reading the third book, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, right after. Very rarely has this ever happened to me where I’d just read books in the same series consecutively without break and pretty much forgetting everything else I need to do 😛 So yes, here we are, book two in the Neapolitan series. May contain spoilers ahead, especially if you haven’t read the previous installment!

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Review: My Brilliant Friend

Posted 2 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

My Brilliant Friend (L’amica geniale #1)
By: Elena Ferrante
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

I’ve long seen her books in passing whenever I’m browsing what’s new in the translated fiction lists (I think Days of Abandonment was the first book of hers that I added to my GoodReads wishlist). I’ve heard so much buzz about her Neapolitan books in recent months that I finally decided to delve into Elena Ferrante’s works. I think I mentioned a few times in the last few months that I was going to wait until the bulk of my offline stuff was finished to settle back and enjoy the book, and the minute the long weekend hit last month, I just started reading this book. And couldn’t stop 😛 May contain spoilers ahead?

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Review: The Reprisal

Posted 16 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Reprisal
By: Laudomia Bonanni, Susan Stewart (Translation), Sara Teardo (Translation)
Format/Source: eBook; free download from the University of Chicago Press

In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league with the partisans, they hastily put her on “trial” by improvising a war tribunal one night in the choir stalls of the abandoned monastery that serves as their hide-out. This sham court convicts the woman and sentences her to die—but not until her child has been born. When a young seminarian visits the monastery and tries to dissuade the fascist band from executing their sentence, the absurd tragedy of the woman’s fate is cast in stark relief. The child’s birth approaches, an unnerving anticipation unfolds, and tension mounts ominously among the characters and within their individual psyches.

Based on a number of incidents that took place in Abruzzo during the war, Laudomia Bonanni’s compact and tragic novel explores the overwhelming conflicts between ideology and community, justice and vengeance. The story is embedded in the cruel reality of Italian fascism, but its themes of revenge, sacrifice, and violence emerge as universal, delivered in prose that is at once lyrical and brutal.In her native Italy, Bonanni, a writer of journalism and critical prose as well as fiction, is hailed as one of the strongest proponents of post-war realism, and this is the first of her novels to be made available to Anglophone readers. Translators Susan Stewart and Sara Teardo render Bonanni’s singular style—both sparse and emotive, frank and poetic—into readable, evocative English.

I received an email informing me that this novel was the free eBook featured for the month of July. It sounded interesting–I’m always up for a novel written by an Italian author–so I decided to check it out 🙂

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 6 May, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 8 Comments

I used to do this years ago where, if I didn’t have too much to say about a particular book I read, I’d just post a brief line about it. The following are books I’ve re-read as part of the A Year in Re-Reading: a 2014 Reading Challenge that I am participating in; these books either were previously (and recently) reviewed at length or I didn’t have too many thoughts on it to warrant its own post.
So, without further ado, the following titles are included in this batch of reviews (you can click on the name to be redirected to the specific review):

May contain some spoilers ahead!

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Review: Personal Effects

Posted 12 March, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Personal Effects
By: Francesca Duranti
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley

An abandoned wife travels into the heart of the Eastern bloc in search of an elusive writer and her own identity in this wry and captivating satire

Valentina has spent the last decade as a most dutiful wife: cooking meals, cleaning house, and translating dry liturgical writings for her husband, Ricardo, to use in his own bestselling literary endeavors. When Ricardo leaves her for another woman, Valentina realizes there is little in her life that is truly hers. So she resolves to strike out on her own as a journalist and track down the elusive novelist Milos Jarco, hiding somewhere in pre-glasnost Eastern Europe. Perhaps in finding Jarco, she can find herself as well.

The gray world she enters is marked by tight lips, guarded secrets, and universal mistrust. Her search for Jarco hits roadblock after roadblock. But on her odyssey through the Soviet hinterland, Valentina encounters something unexpected. She discovers passion . . . and oddly enough, freedom.

Personal Effects was the other book I picked up from the publishers via NetGalley. The premise of the novel sounded interesting–travelling through Soviet Eastern Europe, trying to take charge of her life again–and despite of my questions of the plot, I did like Duranti’s Happy Ending (review) enough. This novel was released on 21 January 2014.

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