What a cover - you just want to open it and follow the just marrieds into their new lives. And those three little dolls following on behind! You won't get that on a Kindle. Anyway there is a lot of hoopla surrounding this novel, book one of the Neapolitan novels, and hoopla also around the very mysterious and reclusive author.

It's a marvellous story - two small girls who meet and become best friends in a poor rundown neighbourhood in Naples in the 1950s. Book one focuses on the ten years from roughly six years of age to sixteen years. Life is tough for these families, eking out existences as shoemakers, carpenters, porters, bakers, shop owners. Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo are the stars of the story, both intelligent and clever girls, Lila being particularly gifted. There is a lot to navigate in their small communities - desire for an education beyond primary school, other children, rivalries, family problems, young love. All the usual stuff children and  young people have to deal with, but in this case set against the hard life of the poor streets of post war Naples. Not easy.

It is a good story, and I am looking forward to reading book two, but I did not find it an easy book to read. It took considerably longer than I would have thought to finish it, and it is a bit of slow burner with the second half considerably more riveting than the first. I wasn't expecting it to be chick lit, but I did think it would be easier to read than I found it. Still, roll on book two! Now that the girls are sixteen what does life have laid out for them?

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