Elena Ferrante

While the fuss has all been about the unmasking of the reclusive writer, I've carried on with the real work, and just kept reading. it's been a total pleasure. This sequence of Neapolitan novels are advertised as a portrait of female friendship, and they're certainly that, but so much else as well. snippets of post-war Italian history, the changes in the neighbourhood, politics, business, and the whole drama of Elena's emergence as a writer - not simply a triumph, but an up/down helter-skelter ride. I've just finished the third one, "Those who leave and those who stay", which looks as though it's just about leaving home or not, having the nerve to break away from a poor Naples neighbourhood. But as it goes on it intensifies, and becomes about other kinds of leaving and staying - adultery and marital betrayal. And as Elena goes through shifts of contradictory feelings and behaviour, we're with her all the way, soppy as that sounds. there may well be tough-minded women out there saying that this is nothing like how it really happens, but I was and am totally convinced. If you're looking for something to read, log on to the library website, and all four volumes are sitting there waiting for you.