The Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost Child

Book - 2015
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"Nothing quite like this has ever been published before," proclaimed The Guardian newspaper about the Neapolitan Novels in 2014. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay , the third book in the series, was an international best seller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Its author was dubbed "one of the great novelists of our time" by the New York Times Book Review . This fourth and final installment in the series raises the bar even higher and indeed confirms Elena Ferrante as one of the world's best living storytellers.
Here is the dazzling saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery uncontainable Lila. In this book, both are adults; life's great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. Through it all, the women's friendship, examined in its every detail over the course of four books, remains the gravitational center of their lives. Both women once fought to escape the neighborhood in which they grew up--a prison of conformity, violence, and inviolable taboos. Elena married, moved to Florence, started a family, and published several well-received books. But now, she has returned to Naples to be with the man she has always loved. Lila, on the other hand, never succeeded in freeing herself from Naples. She has become a successful entrepreneur, but her success draws her into closer proximity with the nepotism, chauvinism, and criminal violence that infect her neighborhood. Yet somehow this proximity to a world she has always rejected only brings her role as unacknowledged leader of that world into relief. For Lila is unstoppable, unmanageable, unforgettable!
Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, this story of a lifelong friendship is told with unmatched honesty. Lila and Elena clash, drift apart, reconcile, and clash again, in the process revealing new facets of their friendship.
The four volumes in this series constitute a long remarkable story that readers will return to again and again, and, like Elena and Lila themselves, every return will bring with it new discoveries.
Four starred reviews for Book 3 in the series
14 best-of-the-year appearances for Book 3
Publisher: New York, NY :, Europa Editions,, 2015
ISBN: 9781609452865
Characteristics: 473 pages
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-


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Jul 27, 2018

If you like soap operas, you will like this and the three preceding books.

Mar 14, 2018

This is a four-part story, released at one volume each year between 2012 and 2015. Set in a poverty-stricken section of Naples in the 1950s, it is the story of a friendship between two women, Elena and Lina.
At times I found myself wondering whether anything really happened in these books. Is the whole thing just a souped-up soap opera, I wondered? But occasionally, I'd just sit bank and think- Yep, this woman sure can write. There's a huge scope of time encompassed in these books. The plotting of the series of books is masterful, clearly planned in its entirety from the opening pages of Book 1 which tie in so neatly with the closing pages of Book 4. This isn't a saga with one book added after another once they began to sell well: no, it's a complete whole, conceived as a unity from the start. It was always a little difficult to start each volume after a break, but about half way through each one , she'd put her foot to the metal and it was unputdownable.

I have loved these books. They capture so well the ambiguities of a close friendship, and they mark the passing of time and the 20th century development of Naples, with the chains of past family enmities and the allure of modernity. I flipped through the advertisements for Ferrante's other books at the back of the volume. No, I don't want to read any more. They sound too much the same. This was just perfect, just as it is.

For my complete review, see

Bunny_Watson716 Aug 14, 2017

The final book in the Neapolitan Quartet. I have loved all of these novels, especially the emotional development of the characters. The ebb and flow of their friendship, the ties to their old neighbourhood that they can't quite escape and the social changes in Italy at the time are all vividly described.

Aug 07, 2017

The Neapolitan Books are at the top of my "Best Books I've Ever Read" list. Even while reading the first, "My Brilliant Friend", I felt not only as though I knew Elena Greco intimately, but her neighbourhood, parents and childhood friend Lena Cerullo as well. The reader will discover the violence, passions and traditions of this rundown, working class environment and how Elena is repulsed, inspired and drawn to it. The complex friendship with Lena through the years from childhood to "Old Age" has been written with deep psychological insight.

Jul 13, 2017

Without the hype I'd not have picked up any of the volumes in this 4-volume story. This is an overly long yet good and satisfying conclusion to the series. Most of the time I recommend against audiobooks but with this series I alternated between physical and audiobooks; in this story series, I think audiobooks are sufficient. In fact, this is a perfect series to enjoy on audiobook as you could drive from wherever you are to wherever you are heading and not even begin to make much headway - the author is extremely, often unnecessarily, verbose. Still, satisfying.

Mar 23, 2017

An excellent final volume of a first-rate tetralogy. A friendship over fifty years also covers the life of a group of people in a poor part of Naples. The psychological insight of people are very interesting, the description of social, cultural, political issues in Italy during these years are well covered. There is even a mystery involved.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a television miniseries made of these books.

athompson10 Feb 10, 2017

As angry and astute as the rest of the set, this one is also heartbreakingly sad at times. I'm sorry for the end of the series.

Jan 22, 2017

"The order of the world in which we had grown up was dissolving. . .The exploitation of man by man and the logic of maximum profit, which before had been considered an abomination, had returned to become the linchpins of freedom and democracy everywhere."
The fourth and final novel of Italian writer Elena Ferrante's sweeping and absorbing Neapolitan Novels. As its heart, it's the story of a friendship, but it touches on politics, family, social issues, writing, and, especially, gender roles and the patriarchy. The somewhat cutesy covers are misleading, as these are novels that are often dark, anger, intense, and politically engaged. Taken as a whole, they are one of the most impressive and compelling literary achievements of the 21st century. And, in an age of short attention span and digital saturation, sitting down with a 4 volume novel is an immersive and deeply satisfying experience. Pour a glass of Italian wine and pick up the first book, "My Brilliant Friend."

Jun 20, 2016

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, main character(s) qualify in this regard. Not to mention divide between being a "feminist" and acting like one when it comes to men (Nino), not to mention attached to a childhood friend, whom you've outgrown for the most part and is clearly bipolar makes one wonder why Elena hung onto this friendship as much as she did. I enjoyed the series for the insights Elena provided on characters not to mention herself. (Could've used a really good editor!)

May 26, 2016

The last book in the quartet about a friendship and a tribute to the author's wonderful friend. The personal is political.

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Apr 25, 2017

Every intense relationship between human beings is full of traps, and if you want it to endure you have to learn to avoid them.

Apr 25, 2017

I can't believe it myself. I've finished this story that I thought would never end.

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