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Publisher's Summary

The incredible story continues in book three of the critically acclaimed Neapolitan novels! 

In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom were first introduced in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at 16 and has a young son; she has left her husband and the comforts her marriage brought and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which has opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance, and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the 1970s. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.

©2015 Elena Ferrante (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

DOING AND THINKING

“Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” reflects on the difference between doing and thinking. “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” is the last book of a trilogy by an author, known by the pseudonym of Elena Ferrante. It is a book about Italy in the 1960s and 70s. As in the United States, this is a time of social upheaval in Italy. Student revolution and class warfare headline Italian media. In Italy, neo-fascists and communist parties compete for Parliamentary seats at opposite ends of the political spectrum. A neo-fascist’ party presses to capitalize on economic prosperity of the 50s while communist sympathizers rail against economic disparity between owners and workers.

The author reflects on how formal and street-wise education impacts social change. The protagonist Elena Greco is a lower class Italian that rises to fame and fortune by being the first in her family to graduate from college. She is a writer. She is a thinker. In Ferrante’s story, Greco’s first book is published to wide acclaim for its depiction of a girl growing into a woman. Greco is struggling to find her way through middle life by writing a second book. She has a tumultuous relationship with her mother who secretly admires her daughter’s accomplishment and ability. She becomes engaged, marries a rising college professor, and bares two children. However, she grows to resent her husband’s intellectual beliefs and dominating self-interest.

The author’s counter-culture character, Lila. comes from the same neighborhood as Elena but, in contrast to Elena, escapes poverty by marrying a relatively successful merchant, whom she later divorces. The divorce can be explained in different ways and for different reasons but the immediate consequence is Lila’s return to poverty. Lila did not pursue a formal education but is educated by the street. She is a doer. She is tough, insightful, and independent. She has two children, a daughter who stays with her former husband, and another, a boy, that she is pregnant with when she divorces. She, like Elena, has a tumultuous relationship with her mother. The relationship appears irreconcilable because her mother believes her a whore who left a husband that gave her security and extended family respectability. To survive, Lila breaks with her extended family, goes to work in a sausage factory, and lives with a male friend to reduce living expenses. Partly out of necessity, Lila leaves her boy with neighbors when working. Lila resents the un-shared single-woman’ burden of motherhood.

Ferrante shows life is an exercise in doing and thinking. The struggle is in balancing those two ways of dealing with the world; whether a man or a woman.

16 people found this helpful

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On and on and on and on… Then finally some transformation and growth

I have to be honest. I don't see what all the hoopla is about about this four book series.

How many times did Elena declare "I will (this) and I will (that)!" To be followed by "but I didn't." And then finally, 3/4 of the way through this book "but of course I didnt." Tedious. Repetitive. Just like I found in the first book. Then finally some transformation and growth but seriously folks, 3/4 of the way into the third book? Ironically ELena wrote the shortest books. Where was this author's editor? I'm definitely going to finish the four book series. There is important learning about the time. And the place and all the National and of course even international events going on at that time. but I sincerely do not understand all of the hoopla about this series. Shorten it to one wonderful long read and it would be fabulous.

6 people found this helpful

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Hooked on the series

The story of Elena and Lila is addictive. This volume focuses more on Elena and her marriage, and her struggle to find a voice as a woman apart from men -- something she resolutely fails to do despite her emerging feminist longings. Lila's life in the violent world of working-class Naples provides a physical counterpoint to the emotional resistance in the world of Elena. Captivating. Don't start listening unless you have the hours to devote to it.

5 people found this helpful

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Can't get enough of this series

I'm at work listening, doing assembly work and rushing to turn down the volume anytime someone comes in the room, just in case a racy part starts. There's only men who work here so it already sounds like I'm listening to something elicit, if only because a woman is speaking. How Elena Ferrante delves into sexism and classism rings true here, working in a factory, surrounded by machismo, 40+ years after the time her novel is set.

4 people found this helpful

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It's finally picking up a bit in book 3

This is the 3rd in the 4 book series and so far, this is my favorite one (though I'm still not as enamored as most of the reviewers here). It gives more insight into Lila and why everyone thinks she's so fabulous. It also gives a glimpse into the feminist movement in the 70s in Italy- the thoughts and actions of women breaking ground for the future freedoms of female sexuality, and men's reactions having to come to terms with strong women. We still find Elena insecure and envious and Lila is still mean, so I wonder how they stayed friends throughout the years. I guess because it takes place before the "get rid of the toxic people in your life" mantra. Again, Ferrante has a way of writing that gives the characters authenticity and the scenes a reality and feel I don't get from most books. Not that it's over the top description; that's not it at all. But it's one of those books that imprints itself somehow, even though, or perhaps because the stories of these lives hit very close to home. As for the narrator, I don't know that I'll ever be able to listen to this narrator again. It's too slow and lacking feeling, though it is starting to seem to fit the character of the books. I listen on 1.5 so as not to go crazy or fall into a stupor.

12 people found this helpful

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Not One Likable character!

I have slogged through these 3 books that everyone raves about, thinking it was the last one. I got so annoyed that I was about to just stop, but I saw I only had 5 hours to go, so I finished it. Then I found out that there is still another in the series that is equally long. This one leaves the reader hanging, and I’ve only recently learned that these were intended to be read as a single book! I cannot imagine.
I’m not saying the author is not exceptional, but I hated every character! I felt compassion for some of them, but wanted to scream at them, “Don’t DO that, you idiot!”, all of the time! I don’t want to spend 18 hours listening to the 4th book, but I guess I’ll have to if I want to know how it ends. I really don’t want to spend a credit on it though.

2 people found this helpful

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Strangely addictive, BUT ...

While a few of the main characters are explored in depth, the vast majority of the series is spent in their heads. Lots of angst, little momentum. Too much telling, not enough showing. The stories provide a very up-close and personal view of two damaged women growing up without seeming to learn much or grow from their constant pain. I am very confused about why they are critically acclaimed. Seems like lazy storytelling to me.

2 people found this helpful

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The bridge between the past and the present

The third novel in the Neapolitan quartet acts as something of a bridge - between past and present; even between two kinds of living - the old ways and the new. Intriguing and unresolved, the rush to read the final installment hastens on.

2 people found this helpful

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Decent novel ruined by narration

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

All my friends who read the books have devoured them. But I found that listening to Huber's dispassionate narration ruined much of the atmosphere. Her voice is overly refined and lacks nuance--- these are passionate hardscrabble Neapolitans, telling a story of friendship, political turmoil, betrayal-- and the narrator sounds as if she could be reading Peter Rabbit.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Change the narrator

What didn’t you like about Hillary Huber’s performance?

See above. She is too cultured, too even a voice for the turmoil of the novel.

7 people found this helpful

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Depressing

Although I had read the other two books, this book was do depressing and in some ways upsetting that I would never recommend it... the characters all are flawed. I kept hoping they would grow and learn but they did not... they were hopeless and without hope

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elena Baldi
  • 09-03-19

disappointing narrator - again

Book is good of course, disappointed that she fell for Nino, but we all make mistakes

Translator...I know it is an English version, but especially in those days the marks were on a 1-10 basis. A- and As might mean something to your English speaking public, but are an earache really. And As at Uni??? please.

Narrator: PAPA is the Pope, the one and only. The word papa' has an accent I cannot add with a UK keyboard. PLEASE learn how to say the word, along with Elena, Nicola and many more. An earache!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jenny
  • 01-05-16

An Amazing Quartet


I love these books. I came to them reluctantly, hating to follow the crowd, but I would, and frequently do, wholeheartedly recommend them to friends. The writing is wonderful without being self-conscious.

These are truly wonderful books. Weeks after reading them I am still in that Neapolitan neighbourhood, surrounded by squalor and violence to witness the palpable yearning of two little girls whose ambitions could not be contained within its boundaries.


5 people found this helpful

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  • Dana Serfaty
  • 03-09-21

Great book and narration

Really enjoyed listening to the audiobook. Fascinating story with an excellent narration, can't wait to listen or read the 4th book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alan
  • 06-28-21

Another 5*

Probably didn’t captivate me as much as the first two but already planning on downloading the 4th! Such a great writer.

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  • anita
  • 04-05-21

my favourite series by far

The story of Lina and Elena is one of the best I have ever read. thoroughly recommend.

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  • SOTIRIS JEROPOULOS
  • 12-29-20

Worth the read, but..

The story, by Elena Ferrante, was human and real and I wanted to hear it to the end. It is sad, poignant even, to follow the stories of these people and glad that cultures are slowly changing in these parts of the world. However, the narration of Hillary Huber is really bad, it is despite the narration that I persevered to the end. She practically stuttered, did she not listen to her own recording? Is this how she normally speaks at home? If the Italian words were so difficult for her to pronounce, and then go back to speaking English, why was another narrator not chosen? It was torture.

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  • JaffaCakes
  • 09-17-20

I can’t get past the southern belle accent

This was a fabulous book to read and I thoroughly recommend the Neapolitan Quartet but I have become increasingly DISENCHANTED at the southern accented narration. Although to be fair, a faux Italian wouldn’t be great either. I guess y’all’s needing a more nay-ooo-tral accent!

I don’t want to hear a southern drawl!

The pronunciation of certain words drives me potty!

Lenu become Layyyyynooooo .... and and so on.

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  • pjw
  • 09-04-20

Could barely stop listening.

Incredible story. Wonderful writing. Excellent narration. Can't wait to begin the fourth and final part of this captivating quartet.

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  • STEVE
  • 08-29-20

superb!

After watching series 1& 2 on Sky Atlantic I couldn't wait for the next series. It was difficult to follow at times with all the characters but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The nareation was clear and easy to hear every word

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  • natadimi
  • 03-25-19

Drawn into this story

Once you start listening to The Neapolitan Novels you just can't stop. For me, this one was not as good as the second, but still very good.

As for the audiobook, I felt like the narrator exaggerated with the harsh tones in some of the personalities' voices, which gives it a nuanced interpretation. Also, I wish she learned the right Italian pronunciation for some of the places, the way she pronounced Capri really annoyed me! Other than that, I really enjoy listening to this story.