Today I finished Elena Ferrante's The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final Neapolitan novel. With the last page a phase of my life drew to a close leaving behind a richness tinged with bittersweet melancholy at its ending. Ferrante drew me in to a place and the people who live there as Tolkien did when I read The Lord of the Rings at fourteen, as Dostoevsky did when I read The Brothers Karamazov for the first time at nineteen and each time after that, as few others have. As with Dostoevsky, a bare-bones synopsis of the plot would come off like soap opera, yet the characters, situations, and conflicts have a depth, vitality, intensity, and originality that elevate the writing to a level few attain. Time after time came a development that I did not see that coming, moments when I wanted to shout to a character, don't do that! It cannot turn out well. Ferrante is extraordinary, maybe even great, and there is not a lot of that going around.
Much more can and should be said. For now I refer you to two discussions of Ferrante's work in The New York Review of Books:
Rachel Donadio, Italy's Great Mysterious Storyteller (December 18, 2014)
Roger Cohen, The Violent World of Elena Ferrante (May 26, 2016; alas, complete article available online for subscribers only)