My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is the first novel in her Neapolitan Quartet, which chronicles the lives of two very different women, the fiery daredevil Lila and more timid narrator Elena. Both are born in the poverty-stricken outskirts of postwar Naples and the series follows the two characters from their first meeting at the age of 10 as they become women, wives, mothers, leaders. To quote Hilary Clinton, 'it's just hypnotic. I could not stop reading it or thinking about it.' Read the books before the HBO TV drama hits our screens.
Words by Imogen Blackwell. The Iris Letter November 2017.