The Story of the Lost Child is Elena Ferrante’s final of her four “Neapolitan” novel series. Ferrante certainly delivers in this final novel, wrapping up the saga of Lenu and Lina, and along with them, their poor neighborhood in Naples, its residents, and the trajectory of modern Italy.
I suppose part of the success of this novel, and the series, is the sense of ego-related claustrophobia that Ferrante is able to express. She is so skilled at parsing the lives of her characters, their minute motivations, their shades of thought and feelings, that it is often a relief to put the books down. At times it is almost too intimate and probing.
Regarding this novel, I think Ferrante overplays her hand when the dolls are delivered near at the end. It strains credibility. It is obvious what she is trying to do, but in a novel of subtle chords, this note is a bit shrill.
Beyond that Ferrante never really misses the mark; she has created a masterful work about the heart of friendship.