I was going to post about the delights of Amsterdam as a place to visit for a week — the cityscapes, the cafes, the restaurants, the museums large and small, the whole urban experience, all even better than we had hoped. But more or less as soon as we got back, I was felled by a nasty attack of a recurrent problem, about which all I will say is thank heavens for penicillin. Though industrial quantities of antibiotics do leave you feeling still pretty flattened, so it has been a few days of staggering from bed to sofa and back. But as I begin to feel more human I’ve had plenty of time to finish the book I’d just started before going away. Like Amsterdam, this too has been lauded to the skies by those who know it. It has been a delight, in both cases, to find that other people’s really warm recommendations are more than deserved (it doesn’t always happen!). And since you certainly don’t need me to tell you more about Amsterdam, but you might not have heard of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend — I hadn’t until a couple of months ago, from the much better read Mrs Logic Matters — maybe I’ll just sing its praises instead.
It really is absolutely wonderful. But I’m not going even to try, in my limping way, to say why. Rather let me point you to this New York Review of Books review of Ferrante’s oeuvre by Rachel Donadio, and/or this review from the New Yorker by James Wood. If these don’t get you reading, nothing will!