If “Ferrante Fever” has taught us anything, it’s that the hunger for good literature about female friendship isn’t a hunger for treacly, happy-ever-after stories about gals who stick together through thick and thin. No, readers want stories that show the jealousy, regret, companionship, discovery, love, humor, and hate that make our lifelong friendships such rich fodder for books from the best YA to the most troubling literary fiction.
Here are some of our favorite passages about female friendship from literature, from the silly to the sublime to the sad — with lots of Ferrante included, of course.
We were twelve years old, but we walked along the hot streets of the neighborhood, amid the dust and flies that the occasional old trucks stirred up as they passed, like two old ladies taking the measure of lives of disappointment, clinging tightly to each other. No one understood us, only we two—I thought—understood one another.
— Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend
It’s only and always the two of us who are involved, she who wants me to give her what nature and circumstances kept, I who can’t give what she demands; she who gets angry at my inadequacy and out of spite wants to reduce me to nothing, as she has done with herself, I who have written for months and months to give her a form whose boundaries won’t dissolve, and defeat her, and calm her, and so in turn, calm myself.
— Elena Ferrante, The Story of The Lost Child
In that period it became a daily exercise: the better off I had been in Ischia, the worse off Lila had been in the desolation of the neighborhood; the more I had suffered upon leaving the island, the happier she had become. It was as if, because of an evil spell, the joy or sorrow of one required the sorrow or joy of the other; even our physical aspect, it seemed to me, shared in that swing. In Ischia I had felt beautiful, and the impression had lingered on my return to Naples …But Lila now had retaken the upper hand, satisfaction had magnified her beauty, while I, overwhelmed by schoolwork, exhausted by my frustrated love for Nino, was growing ugly again.
— Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name