The third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, charting the lifelong relationship between two girls, Lila Cerullo and Elena Greco, who grew up together in the slums of post-War Naples.
Elena, having escaped to Milan after the publication of her first book, struggles to find the courage to live, parent and write again after her marriage to her increasingly dismissive husband Pietro.
Lila, meanwhile, also struggles to rise above her social conditions and desperately tries to find a way to better herself in whatever way she can. By day she suffers the daily abuse and exploitation at work in the local sausage factory and by night she works hard with her partner, Enzo, to make a difference with her life by studying hard the ever-changing face of technology.
Struggling with periods of mental darkness, she also wrestles with being a parent and finding the time to be true to herself. Eventually she is encouraged by a group of old friends and young students to admit her anger at the social adversity and abuses suffered by the women at work in the factory and to stand up and shout about it.
As always, amid the troubles, the two women turn to each other, gaining either strength or weakness from the other, not always to happy effect.