From sisterly love to frenemies: the best female friendships in books

From sisterly love to frenemies: the best female friendships in books

The Guardian

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Whether it is Vera Brittain or Elena Ferrante, women’s relationships have provided succour in troubled times, writes Lucy Jago

What I miss most about pre-lockdown life is not festivals, or even foreign travel, but time with my female friends. The malaise, I believe, is widespread, so here are some books in which to immerse yourself in complex, occasionally wounding, but always irreplaceable female friendships.

In Sula, by Toni Morrison, Nel and Sula are best friends in a poor, black Ohio community, where women can take many roles but not that which Sula chooses, free from social and sexual restraint. She is shunned by everyone, even Nel, whose marriage crumbles in the face of Sula’s seductive presence. Nel mourns for years but comes to understand, as Sula does before her, that it was not her husband she was missing but the relationship with her best friend. Morrison says that it was the women around her, all struggling, all poor, who inspired the book. “The things we traded! Time, food, money, clothes, laughter, memory – and daring. Daring especially …”

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