Friendships Between Women

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Friendships Between Women

Well-depicted female bonds in Literary Fiction and one Memoir.

Intimate. Challenging. Supportive. Absorbing. Provocative.

Close friendships between two women can be all of these things and many more -- sometimes all at once.

Just as no woman -- no human being -- is like another, so too are bonds between women diverse, and just as women as individuals continue to develop throughout life, so too can the bonds between them.

Yet even as female friendships differ and shift, all such bonds are united in their basis in connection, and this apparent contradiction is just one reason accurate depictions of bonds between women can be elusive.

The writers of the following books, though, ably capture the intricacies of platonic bonds between pairs of women, making these titles resonate with authenticity.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
In the first book of her Neopolitan quartet, Ferrante introduces Elena and Lila, two girls whose friendship begins in childhood and will persist over multiple decades throughout the novels that follow. While their story only begins here, their relationship blazes with rich complexity from the first page.

Friendship by Emily Gould
About to enter their thirties, friends Bev and Amy share unmet professional and personal goals and attendant uncertainty, which is only intensified by an unexpected pregnancy. Through the friends’ navigation of the situation, Gould explores how friendship can ease -- and exacerbate -- upheaval.

Sula by Toni Morrison
Growing up in a small community, Sula and Nel form a bond so tight that only a terrible accident can endanger it. As the girls become women whose choices as adults further erode their connection, Morrison examines how friends can define themselves -- fairly or unfairly -- against each other.

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Recounting her friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy, Patchett conveys how the role one can settle into in a twosome can prove both grounding and frustrating, as well as the heartbreak one can suffer both on behalf of and because of one’s friend.

Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
Diminished former fashion model Alison recalls her bright past and her improbable friendship with the older, unglamorous Veronica, who contracted AIDS in the early days of the disease, in Gaitskill’s dark-edged look at how a bond can both surprise and persist.