Having read positive reviews of Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend’, when I saw her more recent “The Lying Life of Adults” in the bookshop I didn’t hesitate to buy it – it was, I was told, also ‘astonishing’, ‘irresistible’, ‘intense’.
Well, I’m afraid the word that kept popping into my head was ‘dull’. More than once I considered putting it away and not finishing it, but I chose to keep on, just in case something miraculous happened…
I’m convinced the problem for me was less Ferrante’s writing than her subject. I found it difficult to be engaged by the adolescent experiences of a 15-year-old Italian girl – presumably much in the same way that the challenges of pubescent boys are likely to leave female readers cold.
But having said that, is it inevitably true? Or is it the failure of the writer to adequately engage their readers which makes it seem so?
To be honest, I’ve no idea – but I do know I won’t be buying “My Beautiful Friend” anytime soon.