From Woman Writers, Women’s Books
The friend you used to tell every scrap of good news to, and every heartache, too.
The sister you shared a bedroom with for years.
The woman at work who knew more about your day and your reaction to it than anyone else.
Where are they now?
Women’s fiction is about relationships, and well-written books about sisterhood and female friendship are among my favorites. Often, we are shaped by our mothers, sisters, friends, and coworkers. Your mother is your first role model for proper behavior. Your sisters are your defenders–or the ones you defend. Your friends shape your tastes in music, in clothing, and in other friends. Your coworkers are your listening posts, encouragers, and lunch mates.
Books like The Rose Code (Kate Quinn), The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood), and Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah) present women who depend on each other, either by choice or circumstance. The books examine the closeness that develops between them, possibly lifelong but sometimes only for the duration of an event, like a war or a term of employment. In each case there are bumps in the road, but women come through for each other despite differences of opinion, outlook, and lifestyle.
I’ve known many great females over the course of my life, but some close relationships ended due to distance, job shifts, changing attitudes, and even death. A high school friend’s family moved far away in our final year. A fellow teacher took a job at another school and seemed uninterested in ever seeing me again. During a lunch date, my sister mentioned, quite casually, that she treasured our time together. She died that night. Their influences linger, brought to mind by a photo, a mention of their name, a song, or a bit of memorabilia. Each one made me what I am today, sometimes in bits, sometimes in great measure.
Other women I’ve known have remained close despite distance and differences. The friend we see or call or text daily. The coworker we can’t wait to tell about the weekend’s events. The phone call from a sister when years and distance roll away and we’re back to being silly girls, repeating bad jokes and reliving old memories.
I am inspired by these relationships when I write. My early standalone mystery, Somebody Doesn’t Like Sarah Leigh, explored what might happen when a friendship ends abruptly and without explanation. My popular cozy mystery series The Sleuth Sisters (written as Maggie Pill), has fun with the competition, irritations, and underlying love that sisterhood brings. And my 2019 book Deceiving Elvera, concerns a lifelong friendship between two very different females as they experience adventure and heartbreak, each helping the other when she needs it most.
The focus of my most recent book, Sister Saint, Sister Sinner, is relationships between female siblings. As sisters, we begin life in very similar circumstances, but personality and life experiences shape us into different people. In this story, three sisters find that their widely varied world views lead to serious consequences. As sisters have from the beginning of time, each must answer for herself the questions they face. What are the boundaries of kinship? Who has the right/responsibility to correct a family member who’s gone wrong? And perhaps most compelling of all, how much can love forgive?
Forging relationships with other women is healthy and wise. We live longer than men, so chances are good that we’ll need our sisters and girlfriends late in life. Besides, who else understands that your need to vent doesn’t mean you’re evil or crazy or about to reject the human race and go live in a cave? That woman you’ve bonded with will listen, because she knows that when her time comes, you’ll do t the same for her.
Link to the rest at Woman Writers, Women’s Books