- Gill Hornby shares the trauma of falling out with friends in this week’s novels
- My Brilliant Friend reflects on a friendship which threatens a marriage
- Heartburn shares the misfortune of trusting in the wrong people
Falling out with friends can be as traumatic as breaking up with lovers; indeed, it can often be worse. There’s a protocol for breaking off a romance — a conversation, a letter, a fight.
Friends, though, can just disappear without a word of explanation, taking with them all those secrets you shared. They’re suddenly the enemy and they know everything about you. It’s like being hacked.
So what goes wrong? Some we should never trust in the first place. It’s our own fault. In Northanger Abbey — I get given a ticking off for picking so much Austen, but she’s the best on this stuff — Catherine Morland goes to Bath and meets Isabella Thorpe.
Bestselling author Gill Hornby recommends the best books on falling out with friends to help you through the trickier times in life
Catherine is naive and flattered by the attentions of Isabella, who’s older, beautiful and more sophisticated. She trusts her completely, even when her instincts warn her against it. The revelation that she’s been manipulated is the first hard lesson of her young life.
Sometimes it’s just betrayal, pure and simple. Nora Ephron — up there with our Jane on female wisdom — wrote the novel Heartburn after the collapse of her own marriage.
Rachel is heavily pregnant, so it’s bad enough when she suspects her husband is having an affair. And it’s terrible when she realises she’s friends with the other woman. But the worst thing is this woman had actually asked for and been given one of Rachel’s favourite recipes — the very definition of an absolute snake.
More often, life gets in the way. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante are about the relationship between Elena and Lila, spanning over 50 years and set out in four volumes.
The two girls meet at school and both are bright. But the time and the place they grow up in have enormous and different impacts on their destinies. Work, love and luck cause endless conflict between them. Yet somehow, they always come back to each other. Because a friendship that real can never truly go away.