Bouquets and Brickbats for Incognito by InD'tale.
"Se io potessi scrivere tutto, farei stupire il mondo" (If I could write everything, I would shock the world). -- Caterina Sforza to a monk during the last decade of her life.
A superbly researched biography of an extraordinary woman we don't hear enough about except her connection to the Borgias. Her story is a lot more interesting than Lucrieza's. At ten she was married to Sixtus IV's nephew, the archenemy of the Medicis Girolamo Riario. After Riarlo's assassination by the Orsi, she became the regent for her son Ottaviano and immediately hunted down her husband's killers as well as anyone remotely connected to the conspiracy, including the Orsi women and the Pope's governor. She trained her city's militia herself and personally oversaw all manner of public policy. Caught up in the Italian Wars and betrayed by Naples, she earned the enmity of Venice until their ally, Caesare Borgia, eventually captured her. It's a wonder Hollywood hasn't come along to do a bang-up job in her life, something better than the schematic portrayal she gets on The Borgias.
This was one of the better thriller/mystery novels I have read so far this year. Wow. It was well written, filled with lots of twists and turns and the way everything is tied together is fantastic and makes the writing flow to keep you engaged and the pages turning.
The characters speak for themselves. They’re heavily flawed and are dealing with horrible pasts. I like both of them and Dante and Colomba do make a great team. Dante certainly has his quirks and his mannerisms due to his being a previous kidnapping victim. It feels like they certainly complement each other and they have an amazing chemistry when working together. They’re both very strong characters, no doubt.
If any of you have read The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius I found some similarities between Colomba and Alet in the fact they both don’t take crap and go beyond their limits to solve things and they’re certainly not afraid to take a swing or kick to make their point across (Colomba has a good share of that throughout the book)
The plot was really good and what I really enjoyed reading the most was the way everything was seamless and how it was put together. Everything that happened to Colomba and Dante was related and well explained. The explanation as to the origins of Colomba’s situation was very well done! I enjoyed that aspect of the plot. The only thing is, the book is rather long and the plot a bit on the slow side but it’s nevertheless a great read and going through the twists and turns was completely worth it.
And yes, there’s a cliffhanger ending. I can’t wait to read the second one.
"I loved Lila. I wanted her to last. But I wanted it to be I who made her last. I thought it was my task. I was convinced that she herself, as a girl, had assigned it to me." (98%)
Honestly, I don't even know what to think. This final book in the series was the one that to me, contained the wealth of Elena Ferrante's wisdom, and it is also the book that was quite difficult to plow through. Sometimes Ms. Ferrante fills us with so many details that I find inconsequential that it slows down the story nearly to a halt.
Nonetheless, this book is powerful. Seeing Lenù and Lila go through a series of violent and terrible life events hits you in the gut. But Ms. Ferrante's masterful weaving pulls everything back together again, and you are brought to the beginning of the first book right as you finish the fourth.
But what is, as usual, the best part of these novels is the characterization. I know I've said this before in my review of the other three novels, but I truly have never read a more raw, honest and gripping tale of a friendship between two women. It's not black and white; it's not simplistic, it's messy and tangled in a web of loyalty and guilty desire for independence not only of each other but also their circumstance.
In the end, though, I feel numb. I have so many questions.
Like, what really happened to Tina? Is she alive? Is she dead? What happened to Lila? Are she and Lenù never going to see each other again?
That's the thing about these novels. Though the novel (and by consequence the series) ends on a bittersweet note, you don't end up with a happy, hopeful glow. All you will have left is this overwhelming melancholy and a fierce wish that things were different in their world and ours.
After I finished reading
I don't know how to rate this just yet or even what to write for my review. I have been reading this book nonstop for 48 hours. I need a mental break to pick up my soul from the ground.
"The solitude of women’s minds is regrettable, I said to myself, it’s a waste to be separated from each other, without procedures, without tradition."
TW: This book contains SEXUAL ASSAULT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
I need time for my heart and my mind to recover. And to think this isn't the last book of the series. Elena Ferrante is a master storyteller. How is it that she can truly capture the good, the bad, the despicable, the intimacy of female friendships? How can she effortlessly capture the impossibility of surviving in a patriarchal society? Her tale and her words have me utterly spellbound and also terrified.
With each passing book, I find myself loving Lila's unbreakable and fragile spirit more. I wish I had her strength, her resolve. But if I had to choose whom I resembled the most, it would have to be Lenù. Succumbing to the pressure of who we need to be, trying to leave our hometown before it swallows us whole and erases our dreams, and makes us forget who we are.
What will happen to Lila? What will happen to Lenù? I'm scared of finding out.