The After Party
Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1950s Houston social scene. Devoted to Joan since childhood, Cece Buchanan is either her chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on whom you ask. But when Joan’s radical behavior escalates one summer, Cece considers it her responsibility to bring her back to the fold, ultimately forcing one provocative choice to appear as the only one there is. THE AFTER PARTY unfurls a story of friendship as obsessive, euphoric, consuming, and complicated as any romance.
On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends Eva and her sisters Beatrice and Heloise, daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. Infatuated by the creative chaos of the Trenthams and their glamorous lifestyle, Lily aches to fully belong in their world, unaware of the darkness and dysfunction beneath the surface. With elegance and vibrancy, THE STRAYS evokes the intense bonds of girlhood friendships, the volatile undercurrents of a damaged family, and the yearning felt by an outsider looking in.
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Lorrie Moore is a master stylist, and she reaches new highs in WHO WILL RUN THE FROG HOSPITAL. The novel flashes back and forth between main character Berie’s middle-aged life, and her coming-of-age in an upstate New York town with her best friend Sils. The novel focuses on one summer in particular, when the two girls worked at the local amusement park Storyland. It was that summer that seemingly everything changed—at first quietly, almost unnoticeably, and then quickly catapulting into a risky chain of events which neither girl was fully prepared to comprehend, and which Berie finds herself unable to forget. As always, Moore strikes the perfect evocative balance between verisimilitude and a tone that’s just a little bit surreal.
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
This is tied with CAT’S EYE by Margaret Atwood for my favorite book about a friendship between girls. This is not a cheerful or heartwarming story, but it captures a particular moment of adolescence so perfectly, it’s still my gold standard.
The Girls in the Picture
Off the Shelf staffer Julianna is a huge fan of Melanie Benjamin’s historical fiction, and her latest, which brings the friendship of black-and-white film icons Mary Pickford and Frances Marion into technicolor, is not to be missed. In 1914, Frances arrives in Hollywood, trying to find work as a screenwriter, when she meets “America’s Sweetheart” Mary. They join forces, and become one of the most daring and powerful pairs in the industry, churning out hit after hit. But, as their professional success takes a toll on their personal lives, they must face their roles as friends, wives, artists, and women. It’s a sweeping, absorbing, and incredibly timely novel that’s perfect to read with your gals.
When they’re assigned to the same dorm their freshman year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t be more different. Celia is a lapsed Catholic, Bree is engaged, Sally is grieving, and April is trying to reconcile her radical feminism with her college’s traditions. Together, they experience the highs and lows of college life, in the classroom and out, forming a bond that it seems will last forever. Though they take different paths after graduation, they reunite at Sally’s wedding, where their devotion is put to the test as one makes a life-changing decision. In this classic novel of female friendship, J. Courtney Sullivan explores the ways in which your friends shape who you are (sometimes without you even realizing) with heart and humor.
In this touching and witty debut, four college roommates must grapple with how the ideals of feminism they learned at Smith College apply to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex. More than a chronicle of college friendship, it is a candid examination of the tangled and contradictory world that today’s young women live in.
Innocents and Others
Meadow and Carrie are best friends who have everything in common—except their views on sex, power, moviemaking, and morality. Their friendship is complicated, but their devotion to each other trumps their wildly different approaches to filmmaking and to life. Throughout the novel, the women grapple with the question of how to be good: a good lover, a good friend, a good mother, a good artist, a good person.
Mary McCarthy’s most celebrated novel follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group.” An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong get married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives—traveling to Europe, tackling the worlds of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become entangled in each other’s affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a member of the group.
For the “Sex and the City” fan
Eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group,” are an eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings. Through the years after graduation and between two world wars, some of the friends grow apart and some become entangled in each other’s affairs, but it’s only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again.
INVINCIBLE SUMMER is the story of Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien, who graduate college in 1997 into an exhilarating world on the brink of the new millennium. But as their dizzying twenties evaporate into their thirties, the once close-knit friends—now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs, and broken hearts—find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways. This is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.
The Girls from Corona del Mar
Best friends Mia and Lorrie Ann couldn’t be more different; where Mia is reckless and proudly hard-hearted, Lorrie Ann is kind, serenely beautiful, and seemingly immune to the kind of teenage mistakes that Mia can’t help but make. But within a few years, fortunes change. And when good, nice, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia must question how well she ever really knew her best friend in the first place.
The Girls from Corona del Mar
Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years, but now, at thirty, they’re at a crossroads. Bev is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of temping, drowning in student loan debt, and (still) living with roommates. Amy is riding the tailwinds of her early success, but her habit of burning bridges is finally catching up to her. And now Bev is pregnant. As the two are forced into real adulthood, they are confronted with the possibility that growing up might also mean growing apart. FRIENDSHIP is the story of their relationship—a searching examination of a best friendship that is at once profoundly recognizable and impossible to put down.
Read the full review of FRIENDSHIP.
Part of Broad City’s appeal is its depiction of female friendship—Abbi and Ilana are inseparable and they know each other better than they know themselves. Their on-screen chemistry is what makes the show. In Friendship, the protagonists are (spoiler!) also best friends, also in New York, and also struggling with things like money and acting like an adult. People magazine calls the book “a wry, sharply observed coming-of-age story for the post-recession era.”
To four girls who have nothing, their friendship is everything: they are each other’s confidantes, teachers, and family. The girls are all named Guinevere—Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win—and it is the surprise of finding another Guinevere in their midst that first brings them together. In prose shot through with beauty, Sarah Domet weaves together the Guineveres’ past, present, and future to capture the wonder and tumult of girlhood and the magical thinking of young women as they cross over to adulthood.