Tim Martin

Two serious ladies

The final instalment of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, The Story of the Lost Child, combines a striking approach to narrative with being a real page-turner

‘You understand, Lenú, what happens to people: we have too much stuff inside and it swells us, breaks us.’ The line comes from the third of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, but it offers a fair summary of a sequence that concludes in this fourth volume. Set in Italy between the 1950s and the present, and documenting the turbulent friendship between two women from the same working-class quarter of Naples, these books by a still-unidentified pseudonymous writer rattle like pressure-cookers with anger, outrage, frustration, jealousy and spleen.

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