Traveling through novels: “Frankenstein” and “My Brilliant Friend” | Reviews

Traveling through novels: “Frankenstein” and “My Brilliant Friend” | Reviews

The unfamiliar aroma, sound, taste and humidity of a new climate. The chaotic self-awareness of silently loitering in a museum, surrounded by strangers. The excitement and eagerness of taking off in a car full of luggage or in a trailer or on a plane, unsure of what awaits.

Traveling, physically, has always been a privilege, and this is especially so during the era of the coronavirus.

However, it does not have to be that way. In fact, in one medium, travel doesn’t even require leaving the couch.

Thank goodness for books!

“Frankenstein” (1818) by Mary Shelley

“I suddenly left my home, and, bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself.”

Mary Shelley’s iconic novel pushes the boundaries of scientific imagination, questions the justification of harmful experiments in the name of discovery, and urges readers to ponder the importance of superficial beauty.

Throughout this, “Frankenstein” presents vivid descriptions of foreign lands that give the reader no need to leave the sofa! Join Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his beast on a journey of a lifetime, wandering along the rugged coast of Scotland, trekking through the snow of France’s dramatic Mont Blanc, strolling on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, floating among Arctic icebergs, and traversing Germany, England, and Russia.

Bon voyage!

“My Brilliant Friend” (2012) by Elena Ferrante

After two days with few necessary food, drink and sleep breaks, I put down “My Brilliant Friend” in frustration. Why isn’t this book longer than its 331 pages? Why are there only three sequels? Must I move on and leave my couch?

In “My Brilliant Friend,” Elena Ferrante intimately details the winding streets roamed by the characters Lenùand Lila and Elena Greco. The reader becomes immersed in the, working class neighborhood of Rione Luzzatti.

Later, Ferrante shows the easier to love Naples, Chiai, bouncing with flashy Italians speeding on Vespas, and drinking and romancing under the golden sun. “My Brilliant Friend” tells of the struggles of factory workers, merciless misogyny and the socioeconomic divide in many neglected communities of destination cities, while also vividly describing the Bellissimo regions of southern Italy.

The true identity of “Elena Ferrante” remains unknown. But to whomever this author is, cheers for that writer’s existence, because this novel serves as an escape from “the new normal” to the striking scenes of Neapolitan life.

Mary-Frances Ballew is a senior at Selah High School.



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