Country Girls: 3 Novels and an Epilogue - Edna O'Brien
I normally don't use the "F" word to sell books. However, this set of three novels is the clearest precursor to Ferrante that I've read. Out in the early 1960s, they are beautifully written and deeply engaging, a coming of age story under the cloud of repression. Society gives little choice to some. The characters do more than just endure: they love and laugh; they form bonds and betray one another; even with their limitations they attempt to change; they live off the page.
Includes the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and GIrls in Their Married Bliss as well as an epilogue to the series!