2018's Most-Talked-About Book Adaptations

Based on: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Release date: Nov. 18

What it’s about: Lenù and Lila are children in 1950s Naples, Italy, when they meet and become best friends, rivals, and life partners. Lenù works hard, overthinks, and is by the book, while Lila is a flash of natural intelligence and fierce anger. Together they learn as much as possible, share ambitions, and do their best to survive in a world unfriendly to women.

How faithful is the adaptation? 8/10. The HBO adaptation of My Brilliant Friend brings the environment in which Lenù and Lila grow up into even sharper focus: rough, struggling, machismo, violent. Seeing it onscreen makes this horror unavoidable, while in the books, you were able to move on, turn the page, and focus more on Lenù’s interior life. I miss Lenù’s voice — you connect so strongly with Lenù as a reader, and it’s harder to do this as a viewer outside of Lenù’s head. The series tries to make this an objective story, while the novel is fully subjective to Lenù’s point of view. Still, the series is largely faithful to everything that happens in the book, and the actors playing Lenù and Lila at the different stages of their lives are incredibly well cast. And Nino!