From Donna Tartt to Irvine Welsh: 10 great novels about friendship

Urban junkies, competitive mothers, adolescent girls caught in the world of Charles Manson ... Lara Feigel picks her 10 favourites

Donna Tartt, The Secret History
My generation grew up with this story of brilliance and murder among a group of college students. Group allegiance among their glittering set means cutting your ties with the wider world.

Candice Carty-Williams,
Book of the year at this year’s British book awards, this is the story of the eponymous Queenie and her “Corgis” – her WhatsApp group of close friends who see her through a breakup and more.

Vasily Grossman, Stalingrad
The prequel to Life and Fate opens with a group of friends gathered at a matriarch’s supper table. It unfolds into a great, epic tale of a world under siege, in which very few of these characters will survive.Anna Hope, Expectation
Hopes and rivalries intertwine in a smartly structured novel that encounters friends Cate, Hannah and Lissa at different stages of their lives – from 12 to 44 years old.

Don Lee, The Collective
Lee’s compulsive novel portrays a group of three Asian American artists coming of age, exposing along the way the hypocrisy of racial attitudes in contemporary America.

Iris Murdoch, The Bell
The world of Murdoch’s novels was more structured by friendship than by family ties. So many of her novels have eccentric, incestuous groups of friends, and The Bell is one of them, set among a small Anglican religious lay community in Gloucestershire.

Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting
The cult 1993 novel depicts a circle of friends with a difference; Renton, Sick Boy and the others are no university chums but Leith junkies, who enjoy a violent, desperate camaraderie as they struggle to “choose life”.

Doris Lessing, The Good Terrorist
Lessing’s experiences in the Communist party made her a great chronicler of political group life. The Good Terrorist is a brilliantly disturbing novel about a group of young squatters who get overtaken by their own actions.

Rachel Cusk, Arlington Park
In recent years, Cusk has disowned her earlier, more character-driven novels, but I remain a fan of this witty, incisive portrait of a group of suburban, anxiously competitive mothers.

Emma Cline, The Girls
Cline’s bestselling debut told the dizzying tale of the group of adolescent girls gathered around Charles Manson in 1960s America. This is a novel about frenzied collective rebellion that nonetheless doesn’t forget the more ordinary pleasures of friendship and group life.

  • Do you have a favourite friendship in a novel, or favourite book about friendship? Share yours in the comments below.


Lara Feigel

The GuardianTramp

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