Reading gone a bit flat? Put a Cork in it!
I’m currently three books into Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan series. As gritty and vibrantly written as they are, I must admit, I dragged my feet the whole way through Those Who Leave and Those who Stay, which I’ve just finished. I think the trouble is that the life-long friendship between Lila and narrator Elena, with its heady mix of loyalty, jealousy, competitiveness, love and a shed full of grudges held, has started to get me down.
Rather like a friend who comes for the weekend then stays for a month, doesn’t even attempt to shield you from the worst manifestations of their dysfunctional relationships, eats all your kettle chips (and breeeeaathe……) and assumes that nothing holds more importance to you than to listen at length as each woe is examined in turn, like glass beads on a necklace.
My gripe is with Elena, whose hard work, determination along with a small amount of good fortune sees her a published author, living in Florence with her husband and two small daughters. Success has certainly not been handed to her on a silver platter, but I am thoroughly fed up of her constant whingeing about her lot, and how eaten up she is by her compulsion to compete with her childhood friend Lila, who, faced with far more limited opportunities in life, has had to tread a far harder path. Stop moaning already!
To be fair, I am enjoying the series, but am in desperate need of a break before I tackle the final installment The Story of the Lost Child. So, for a change of scene, I’ve turned to Lisa McInerney’s novel The Glorious Heresies, set in Cork’s murky underworld. Thankfully, the dark, gritty humour and messy explosion of human experience that has erupted from the novel thus far is proving to be just the thing to put some fizz and whizz back into my reading diet.