There has been much talk in recent years about why women need friendships with other women. According to a much referenced 2000 UCLA study, friendships between women not only "soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are," they're also good for women's health. These nine books explore the various aspects of women's friendships in all their complexities.

If you--or your friends--have recommendations of your own, please add a comment at the end. Happy reading!

The Fair Fight The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

This debut novel transports us to 18th century England and describes the improbable friendship between two women from different social classes: Ruth, born in a brothel, who has seen plenty of the harsh world; and higher class Charlotte, ravaged by smallpox and cramped in style by her brother. Ruth and Charlotte meet through the unlikely world of female boxing and their friendship anchors an intriguing slice of historical fiction.
Reviews, excerpt, reading guide & discussion
The Sunken Cathedral The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert

As if the emotions bubbling to the surface among a group of friends weren't bumpy enough, a weather event of a more literal kind hits the Chelsea neighborhood where these women live. Survivors of World War II and living life to the fullest in their widowed golden years, this clutch of women know how to navigate life's storms while also enjoying more tranquil seas. An intriguing novel set in the not too distant future.
Reviews, excerpt & reading guide
Vanessa and Her Sister Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

Immerse yourself in the intellectual milieu of London at the turn of the twentieth century with the Bloomsbury group, a collection of young idealists. Prime players among this eclectic assemblage of artists are Vanessa Bell, a renowned artist. and her sister, the immensely gifted Virginia Woolf. While this historical fiction shines a lot of attention on the siblings' complicated relationship, this is also a story of friendships and how it can affect blood ties.
Reviews, excerpt & reading guide
The Invention of Wings The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Sarah Grimke is just 11 when she is given ownership of a slave, Handful. The two girls forge a strong friendship over the course of the next 35 years, which will test the boundaries of what was possible for women in nineteenth-century America as the raw wound of slavery justifiably colors their relationship and configures it in intriguing new ways. A striking look at abolitionists and women's rights through the story of two remarkable women.
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China Dolls China Dolls by Lisa See

Three "true-heart" friends form a lasting bond in the Chinatown of 1930s San Francisco as they try to leverage their Asian heritage into some sort of financial independence. The racism they face colors their everyday experiences and cements their relationships even more. Visiting Chinatown nightclubs, Hollywood studios and a Japanese internment camp, this historical fiction is an important look at how painting entire communities with one broad brush stroke can be dangerous.
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The Bathing Women The Bathing Women: A Novel by Tie Ning

As China's economy kicked into overdrive, it created varied opportunities for urban women as the four in this eloquent novel by one of the country's beloved novel illustrates. As they navigate the complexities of work and home and relationships they have each other to make it through good times and bad. A touching exploration of how everyday lives are shaped by large tidal forces of change.
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The House at the End of Hope Street The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Imagine finding solace and comfort when you need it most. That's exactly what this magical house offers, a last resort for artists who are down on their luck to revitalize themselves and set down a new path. The ghosts of literary giants from the past including Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf lend a helping hand as do the real-life residents of this much-needed home. A soulful commentary on the power of friendship.
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The Wives of Los Alamos The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

There's nothing quite like adversity to bring people together and the wives of Los Alamos certainly had their fair share. As their scientist husbands worked on the project that would be the game-changer in World War II, their entire lives were shrouded in secrecy in the middle of the Nevada desert. Cut off from contact with their extended families, they formed a community nevertheless, one that would come in especially useful as they coped with the devastation wrought by the bomb.
Reviews, excerpt & reading guide
The Atomic Weight of Love The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth Church

The story might be set in the mid-twentieth century but many a woman today, will find a reflection of at least a sliver of their struggles in young Meridian Wallace's life. She sets aside her own prospects to join her husband in post WWII Los Alamos, setting her own prospects on the back burner. When she meets a new person whose views are crafted in a place far from her own, Meridian starts to realize just how much she has given up in the name of love and what she needs to do to carve a special place of her own.
Reviews, excerpt, reading guide & discussion


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Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee