• The cover of the book The Door

    The Door

    This is a novel of an unlikely friendship between two women—a famous Hungarian writer named Magda and her cleaning woman, Emerence, who is robustly anti-intellectual and anti-religious. Nothing is predictable about this relationship, most especially the intensity of their intimacy. Emerence is the power and force in this novel and in the friendship. Magda, who is allowed into her friend’s life as no one else has been, comes to understand how ultimately little she really knows of even those she loves most.

     
  • The cover of the book Swing Time

    Swing Time

    I spent every afternoon until I graduated high school in a ballet school run by my mother so Zadie Smith’s novel of female friendship formed under the precision and rigor of dance was an inevitable draw for me as a reader. It has all the queasy delight of that dance world—ambitious moms, the competitive hierarchy, the harsh reality of a dancer’s body, the joy of movement and creation—as well as the larger dynamics of class and race that Smith deftly and profoundly explores in her novels. I wanted desperately to feel that dance united the two girls. But like Ferrante, Smith explores how spoken and unspoken differences begin to drive these once inseparable best friends further and further away from one another.

     
  • The cover of the book Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

    So many novels on one level focus on the success or failure of a woman in relation to her life with a man. Certainly, Jane Eyre is most often read as the coming-of-age story that culminates in the marriage to Rochester. But Jane’s relationships with women, starting with her dearest childhood connection, Helen, are what actually sustain and anchor Jane. When Jane has reached her lowest moment it is the River sisters, Jane and Diana, who literally nurse Jane back from the brink of death and then continue to nurture her as their intellectual companions. It is no accident that having entered the safety of the sisters’ home the first very time Jane feels that “I began once more to know myself.”

     
  • The cover of the book Let's Take the Long Way Home

    Let's Take the Long Way Home

    Here is a gorgeous friendship memoir, one that I’ve read more than a couple of times because the connection between the two women feels so alive and true. It is not often that as adults we have the chance to make a friendship that takes a prime position in the everyday life but that is exactly what Caldwell and her dear friend, author Caroline Knapp did, making each other “the necessary pillars of life.” As a writer, I learned from Caldwell how to manage a book’s core grief—the death of a friend—with the more essential core—how friendship endures through even the ultimate devastation.

     
  • The cover of the book The Woman Upstairs

    The Woman Upstairs

    This quite chilling novel shows the tricky side of female friendship. It’s the friendship crush that goes awry, a story of manipulation and idealization. This psychological thriller of a novel, narrated by Nora who either been lured into or insinuated herself into the life and artwork of Sirena, examines the terrible effects of projection. This novel raises the haunting question of whether we are betrayed in friendship by another or by our own expectations and behaviors.