Reading dates: 27 October – 25 November 2019
This book provided me with one of the most pleasurable reading experiences since, al those years ago, I read Anna Karenina. Not that the novels compare, or that I have not encountered pleasure elsewhere (for example, when Neil reads War and Peace to me, but that is more his sexy voice) but the convergence of consistently good prose, pace, story and character is what makes ‘The Story of a New Name’ masterly.
There are really harrowing passages and settings in this portion of Lenù and Lila’s story, which, from a convergent childhood, begins to diverge. From a friendship story, class begins to emerge. Still, all the troubles of being a woman in Italy (study, academia, motherhood, love, infidelity work, abuse, resistance) are present. The story follows Lenù to university in Pisa and what it means to be away; and Lila’s first years of her very early marriage and the will to get away.
It is beautiful, complex and wide-ranging and eminently feminine in the best, most interesting way.