Elena Ferrante’s Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of her Neapolitan novels, takes some time to gather momentum. But mid-way through it certainly does, and the end is truly shocking.
This novel of friendship has been primarily about Lina; she is, in a sense, an elevated being in downtrodden circumstances. In this novel, Elena Greco is more front and center; she is less the cipher, and more the axis of the narrative.
And what she does with the life she worked so hard to create and build is astounding. The reader is left wondering about the spells various characters cast upon each other, and why they fall into the same old traps. Fulfillment escapes these people again and again.