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Happy International Book Day

Happy World Book Day! Did you know Hospitality Action have released a cook book?

Including recipes from chefs such as Tom Kerridge, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and many more, 100% of royalties from the sale of this book will go to Hospitality Action to help offer vital support to all who work within the hospitality industry in the UK.

Click here to find out more.

A review of The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante by Teri Gumpert

The Neapolitan Quartet is a set of books comprising of My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Who Stay and The Story of the Lost Child.

The story is about two childhood friends, Raffaella Cerullo known as Lila and Elena Greco known as Lenu, and it covers their lives growing up in a small neighbourhood in Naples from 1944 to 2002. The author powerfully describes the poverty, corruption, violence and bleakness that surround Lenu and Lila as they are growing up in post-war Naples.

Through Lenu we see a modern woman attempting to take destiny into her own hands and break away from the expectations of the past. She does not let the old traditions and assumed pre-destined future of a husband, children and beatings, Lenu will have none of that and will make her own way in life. Lenu’s life is very different to her mother’s and Elena Ferrante cleverly holds a mirror to mother and daughter and lets you decide which of the two has made the better life choices.

Lila, on the other hand, shows a resignation that at times is heart breaking, but it is always on her terms and she is a clever manipulator.

You also get a glimpse of an emerging post-war Italy and the political and domestic issues it was grappling with.

You respect Lila and Lenu throughout the books because of their strength and the sheer tenacity they show to get through the lows of their lives, and you celebrate their successes and highs, but you do not love them. Lila and Lenu’s relationship is akin to siblings with the jealousies, love, selfishness and respect such a close relationship can bring.

The books were originally written in Italian, and the translation of the first book does not flow as easily as the other three and takes a little getting used to, but it is well worth persevering to the end. Also, these books do not stand alone and you have to read all four in order.

My one criticism of the quartet is that these were clearly written with as TV series in mind, and a TV series is indeed now being aired on HBO. The ‘cliff hangers’ hinted at become a little irritating and are not as ground breaking as promised in the previous pages. I also think that this quartet could have been at least a book shorter and it would have made a much tighter and better piece of prose.

The books are thought provoking, particularly the end which makes you question the whole premise of the story, and are very much worth reading if for no other reason than you can pat yourself on the back when you have read all 1693 pages!

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