Shari Thurer, ScD, is a BPSI Psychotherapist Member. Her below remarks originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of the library newsletter, which can be read here.
Reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan tetralogy is a bit like listening in on a psychoanalytic session. Her characters’ thoughts, emotions and dialogue are raw, unfiltered. Her novels trace the course of a complicated, intense, volatile relationship between two women over six decades, starting in impoverished Naples in the early nineteen fifties. Violence is a steady undertone in this Camorra-tainted city. Both women transcend their smothering, abusive early environments, though not without deep emotional scars. Elenu, the educated narrator, believes that unschooled Lila, a feral cat of a woman, is her muse. Who is whose “brilliant friend,” (My Brilliant Friend is the title of the first novel), is ambiguous. Elenu and Lila mutually introject each other, so while they are ferociously competitive, they are ferociously attached. Their friendship trumps lovers, children, husbands, mothers, cities, social class. It is a compelling story, psychologically realistic and emotionally gut-wrenching…..not Jane Austen, but her underbelly.
Shari Thurer, ScD, is a BPSI Psychotherapist and Library Committee Member, a former Adjunct Associate Professor at Boston University, a psychologist in Boston, and the author of many noted publications, including Myths of Motherhood: How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1994) and The End of Gender: A Psychological Autopsy (Routledge, 2005).
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