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Publisher's Summary

The incredible story continues in book 3 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 sixteen 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lori
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 12-17-15

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Can't relate

The main character of this novel and narrator has lost my interest. She whines and obsesses, and her relation with her friends and family has gotten more inexplicable. I hope the tetralogy recovers in the fourth novel the candor, compassion, and narrative spark it had in volume one, which I found masterful.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Boring!

really boring until the last 30 chapters, then it gets interesting. but thought of giving up many times.

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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.


4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Swedey
  • 06-07-18

fabulous shame about American narration

Once again, why is it narrated by an American, using American measurements, the setting is European!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Monsaraz
  • 06-06-18

Even better than the first two volumes

Ferrante writes in a simple direct style. This book tackles the politics of the Seventies and the role and struggle of women. It is about marriage and children and she writes frankly and honestly about both. One of the few books I have read where a mother, a good mother too, puts her own happiness above that of the children, and knowingly acts in a way that will hurt them. Ferrante characters go on their varied journeys, their lives crisscrossing over the years for good and bad. A gripping novel x

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anthony Millwood
  • 04-30-18

Life and love in postwar Naples

What did you like most about Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay?

The novel explores deep into the character of the main protagonists. Set in postwar Naples, the story is also rooted in the class conflict that is carried forward as Italy emerges from the fascist era, and the author portrays this cleverly and with much truth, I find. The story is also very well read by Hillary Huber, subtly changing her voice and delivery to distinguish the different characters and their moods.

What other book might you compare Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay to, and why?

It compares with other family and personal sagas, set in a well defined historical period. What distinguishes it is the emotional subtlety and depth which is not always present in this type of novel.

Which character – as performed by Hillary Huber – was your favourite?

I did not have a favorite character, each are presented with their qualities and their flaws, strengths and sometimes dreadful failings.

Any additional comments?

Compulsive listening!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-06-17

Terrible. Don't buy.

What would have made Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay better?

This was read by a robot. I didn't want to give it any stars but you can't leave a review without giving stars, it's not possible. But I want to warn people that this sounds like it's read by a robot/computer. I could not listen.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-17

Narrator

Brilliant book ruined by poor narration. What a shame. I will not be passing this audio book on.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful