Five famous literary frenemies by Eleanor Moran
Female friendship is a literal lifesaver – research has shown women with a closeknit group of girlfriends live on average 22% longer – and yet, when it turns toxic, there is no greater hell.
We all know how it feels to have that friend we dread hanging out with, the one who makes you feel fat and broke without ever saying anything overtly mean enough to give you grounds for ‘divorce’.
Ending a romantic relationship has rules we all know. In the Wild West of female friendship, saying your goodbyes is a treacherous business. Gwyneth Paltrow made a few choice remarks on Goop a few years ago, which commentators speculated was a veiled attack on one time bestie Madonna. “What do you do when you realise that although you may have years of history, you kind of don’t like a friend anymore? That after time spent with this person, you feel drained, empty, belittled or insulted?”
The heroine of my new book, Too Close For Comfort, faces this problem head on. Mia’s a therapist, so when she receives a desperate phone call from her best friend telling her that a young mum in her village has plunged to her death, she rushes to her side to comfort her. But Lysette is acting strangely, not least when she’s surrounded by the picture perfect group of school mums who also knew the dead girl. How dark is the secret they’re hiding, and can Mia find her way to the truth?
Mia’s not the only heroine I know who struggles with friendship gone bad. These four literary friendships are twisted enough to turn any woman into a hermit.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Barely a novel (it’s a thinly veiled account of Ephron’s divorce), Heartburn’s heroine is cookery writer Rachel, who discovers that her ‘friend’ Thelma is carrying on with her husband while she’s heavily pregnant with his child. Thelma, who has “a nose as long as a thumb”, even has the nerve to ask Rachel for a carrot cake recipe whilst plotting their elopement. Rachel’s revenge is swift and brutal – she tells the whole town Thelma has a particularly nasty STD.
Big Little Lies
Liane Moriarty’s best seller, soon to be turned into an HBO mini-series starring Reese Witherspoon. The story centres on a group of mums whose perfect offspring attend the same primary school. The arrival of Jane – a shy single mum who is strapped for cash – unearths hidden tensions. When her son is accused of bullying the child of the Queen Bee, things rapidly descend and the school quiz night ends in a murder that they must conspire to cover up.
Valley of The Dolls
Anne, Neely and Jennifer meet in New York as struggling starlets, trying to gain a foothold in the entertainment industry. Pure grit propels them to the top, but in the process they turn on each other. Neely, reportedly based on Judy Garland, becomes addicted the ‘dolls’, the uppers and downers that powered 1950s Hollywood. Out of control, she seduces Anne’s husband, the gloriously titled Lyon Burke, knowing that Anne loves him too much to ever leave.
Where’d You Go Bernadette?
The novels eccentric, glorious heroine Bernadette flees her own life to escape the bitchy Silicon Valley mums at her daughter’s exclusive private school. She dubs them “the gnats”, much to the glee of 15 year old Bee. She takes on the task of finding her after the judgemental women who have staged an ‘intervention’ convince her Dad that his one of a kind wife has committed suicide.