The Story of a New Name: Neapolitan Novels, Book Two
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The second book, following last year’s 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 cruel price that this passage exacts.
appear and if I don’t submit he’ll make me pay, and he’ll make anyone who’s helped me pay. So it’s better for me to go away without involving anyone. I have to find a job, anything, enough to earn what I need to feed him and give him a roof. Just thinking of her son saps her strength. What ended up in Rinuccio’s head: images, words. She worries about the voices that reach him, unmonitored. I wonder if he heard mine, while I carried him in my womb. I wonder how it was imprinted in his nervous
spinning around in her unhappiness, unresigned, and at times I caught her in the new grocery store, in a rare moment when it was empty or she wasn’t dealing with suppliers, with a vacant look, one hand on her forehead, in her hair, as if to stanch a wound, and the expression of someone who is trying to catch her breath. One afternoon I was at home; it was still very hot, although it was the end of September. School was about to begin, I felt at the mercy of the days. My mother reproached me for
had not been sufficient, I would have to work even harder in order to be able to say to Nino, to Professor Galiani, to Carlo, to Armando: Yes, I understand, I know. The entire planet is threatened. Nuclear war. Colonialism, neocolonialism. The pieds-noirs, the O.A.S. and the National Liberation Front. The fury of mass slaughters. Gaullism, Fascism. France, Armée, Grandeur, Honneur. Sartre is a pessimist, but he counts on the Communist workers in Paris. The wrong direction taken by France, by
that was reported to me and it made an impression. It meant that Lila, in spite of the strength she displayed at all times, was weak. It meant that children didn’t come, or didn’t last in her womb, not because she possessed a mysterious power that annihilated them but because, on the contrary, she was an inadequate woman. My resentment faded. When, in the courtyard, she told me about the torture of the medical examination, using vulgar expressions for both the doctor and the three who accompanied
Saturday had been occupied with Pinuccia and nothing else, now focused on me, in the same timid and solicitous way, as if nothing distinguished us from each other, not even the fact that she was married and pregnant and I was not. For the first walk that we took along the shore, we left as four, side by side. But soon Bruno spotted a shell turned up by a wave, said, “How pretty,” and bent down to pick it up. Out of politeness I stopped to wait for him, and he gave me the shell, which was nothing