25 Fascinating Female Friendships in Literature

Ferrante Fever is putting the literary spotlight on female friendships; here are 25 books that do a similarly good job of exploring a fascinating topic.

In my view, Claire Messud was on point when she said (in a now-famous response to an interviewer balking at an “unlikeable” character) that “if you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble.” But that only applies to friends for yourself. That is, because, at least for me, reading about friendship — fraught and bad and dangerous as it may be — is one of my deepest pleasures, particularly when the friendships are between women. But while Ferrante Fever is still in full swing, it’s amazing to me how rare it still is to find complex female friendships in literature for adults (YA has it a little more locked), and even the whiff of a good one can send me straight to the bookstore. In case you’ve been having the same feeling, here are 25 books that investigate female friendship in one form or another. More please.

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Innocents and Others, Dana Spiotta

Spiotta’s latest novel is about art, artifice, selfhood, exposure. It also features one of the most compelling, but more importantly true-feeling female friendship in recent memory, that of two girls who grow up to be filmmakers, one the avant-garde Meadow Mori and the other the mega-commercial Carrie Wexler. Spiotta’s rendering of these women is, for me, the most interesting part of the book. From an early scene: “Meadow was building an idea about something, and she liked to think through talking. Once Carrie understood that, she didn’t feel condescended to. She instead felt a pleasing intimacy with Meadow and her great brain. Carrie knew how to be friends with Meadow.” The women fall apart, fall together, ignore each other, hurt each other, love each other — that’s how it goes.