The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante


The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Europa Editions, New York

September 3, 2013

471 pages

I first mentioned the writer Elena Ferrante during the A to Z Challenge last April. You can read that post HERE.

The Story of a New Name of Elena Ferrante’s series of the lives of two friends from Naples, Elena and Lila, has exceeded all expectations that I had and I eagerly anticipate reading the next in the series.

To succinctly recap the story:

Elena finishes high school as Lila is married to Stefano, a guy she really did not love but had money. One summer, Lila has an affair with Nino, the man who Elena always loved. Lila gets pregnant and Nino abandons her. Elena leaves for Pisa for college due to scholarships. Stefano has an affair with Ada, a worker at his store and she gets pregnant. Lila leaves Stefano with Enzo, an old friend, but they live platonically. She takes Stefano’s (Nino’s) son with her. Elena was extremely stressed with school and her life and writes the story of her life thus far in a couple of weeks. It helps her reduce tension. She had met and is engaged to a man named Pietro. Enzo and Lila work hard and live poor. Pietro had given the story of Elena’s to a his mother who had connections in publishing. Elena knew nothing about this. Elena’s book is published and at a reading Nino shows up in the audience defending her as an old man is deriding her book.

That recap is extremely simple and leaves out the pages and pages of emotions and tensions and threading of so many relationships as only Ferrante can write. I am still in that blissful place of having just read almost nonstop a book that I will never forget. Of course, I believe this story reflects the life of the mysterious Elena Ferrante, but I have nothing to back that belief. Ms. Ferrante is an extremely fascinating writer. I cannot really identify with Lila, but I can only compare her to similar characters I have known in my life. But, I can identify with Elena, probably because of self-esteem and other issues. Reading about these two friends from childhood to young adulthood has been an enriching experience. I want to read more. Barely after this is posted, I will have downloaded the third novel in the series. Happily, I have learned there will be a fourth and final book about these friends and how their lives are forever entwined.