These novels about long-standing friendships remind us why we love and cherish our BFF relationships.
1. The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe
“Mary Alice Monroe invites you to meet five remarkable characters as she explores the power of friendship with tenderness, honesty and understanding.
“On the surface, it is a monthly book club. But for five women, it is so much more. For Eve Porter, whose husband’s sudden death cheats her of every security she had planned on, the club is a place of sanctuary. For Annie Blake, a brilliant attorney intent on starting a family late in life, it is the chance to finally let down her guard and dream of other possibilities. For Doris Bridges, it is her support group as she acknowledges her dying marriage and finds the ultimate freedom in her husband’s betrayal. For Gabriella Rivera, the “perfect” wife, mother and friend who offers support to everyone but is afraid to ask for it herself, it is a sense of community. And for Midge Kirsch, an artist who has always lived her life against the grain, it is a haven of acceptance.
“They are five women from different walks of life, embracing the challenge of change. And as they share their hopes and fears and triumphs, they will hold fast to the true magic of the book club—friendship.”
2. The Last Laugh by Lynn Freed
“To escape their griping grown children, husbands and lovers, and an abundance of grandchildren underfoot, three self-proclaimed “old bags,” Dania, Ruth, and Bess, head for a quiet island on the Aegean Sea. They’ll spend a year by the water―watching the sunset, eating grilled fish and fresh olives, sipping ouzo. They deserve it, they say. After all those years, the three women will finally have some peace.
“Except that they can’t. For one, Bess, a pampered, once-beautiful inheritress, falls swiftly into an affair with a poetry-writing taxi driver―who has, of course, a territorial wife. And Dania, a therapist, begins to receive an increasing number of cryptically menacing phone calls from a psychotic patient. An ex-lover of Ruth’s shows up unexpectedly, right before one of Bess’s does―and then the women’s children arrive, with their own demanding children in tow. As the island quickly becomes crowded, the women’s serene year in Greece devolves perilously, and uproariously, into something much more complicated.
“With the wit of Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different and all the adventure of Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lynn Freed’s The Last Laugh is at once wildly funny and deeply perceptive, an exuberant story of friendship and pleasure, family and love.”
3. Laughing in the Dark by Susan Swartz
“Girlfriends are the best medicine.
“Franny, Jude, and Anna go on their annual lake camp-out in Northern California to eat and drink, skinny dip and whoop into the night when the subject turns to death. What do you want to do before you die? What will you wear to your funeral? Who will do your makeup?
“It gets darker back home as Jude fears she’s developing her mother’s dementia and starts to stash pills, research suicide and withdraw from her friends. Before the next camping trip each woman’s life is turned upside down, along with her faith in the future and her friends in a year of suspicions, infidelity, the latest in California dying styles, the politics of assisted suicide along with debates on why breasts are not boobs and what wine to have with your last meal. Because, what better way to deal with the absurdity and certainty of mortality than to cry and laugh with your best friends?”
4. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
“The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
“The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
“Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.”
5. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
“When Victoria Leonard answers the phone in her Manhattan office, Caitlin’s voice catches her by surprise. Vix hasn’t talked to her oldest friend in months. Caitlin’s news takes her breath away–and Vix is transported back in time, back to the moment she and Caitlin Somers first met, back to the casual betrayals and whispered confessions of their long, complicated friendship, back to the magical island where two friends became summer sisters.
“Caitlin dazzled Vix from the start, sweeping her into the heart of the unruly Somers family, into a world of privilege, adventure, and sexual daring. Vix’s bond with her summer family forever reshapes her ties to her own, opening doors to opportunities she had never imagined–until the summer she falls passionately in love. Then, in one shattering moment on a moonswept Vineyard beach, everything changes, exposing a dark undercurrent in her extraordinary friendship with Caitlin that will haunt them through the years.
“As their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha’s Vineyard, from New York to Venice, we come to know the men and women who shape their lives. And as we follow the two women on the paths they each choose, we wait for the inevitable reckoning to be made in the fine spaces between friendship and betrayal, between love and freedom.
“Summer Sisters is a riveting exploration of the choices that define our lives, of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and those we struggle to create. For every woman who has ever had a friend too dangerous to forgive and too essential to forget, Summer Sisters will glue you to every page, reading and remembering.”