The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante are a series of 4 novels following the friendship between two girls in 1960’s – 70’s Naples. I’ve just finished the second novel and this passage stood out to me. This is when Elena visits Lila, her friend who married a wealthy (to them) shopkeeper when she was 16.
- Maybe the wealth we wanted as children is this, I thought: not strongboxes full of diamonds and gold coins but a bathtub, to immerse yourself in every day, to eat bread, salami, prosciutto, to have a lot of space even in the bathroom, to have a telephone, a pantry and icebox full of food, a photograph in a silver frame on the sideboard that shows you in your wedding dress – to have this entire house, with the kitchen, the bedroom, the dining room, the two balconies, and the little room where I am studying, and where, even though Lila hasn’t said so, soon, when it comes, a baby will sleep.
Keep your expenses manageable and take pleasure in the small, everyday ‘luxuries’ and appreciate them. Sounds very ‘Mustachian’ to me!
(Edited far later to add – this series is a gut-wrenching look at how poverty and lack of opportunity can thwart even the most fiercely intelligent of people. It’s an absolutely unforgettable series.)