The Ups and Downs of Literary Friendship
December 3, 2010 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for books focusing on tight-knit groups of friends.

Over the past few months I've read Lev Grossman's The Magicians and Tana French's The Likeness (of which a recent AskMe regarding the former led me to The Secret History by Donna Tartt) and have enjoyed all thoroughly.

The main aspect that drew me in to all 3 was the focus on a tight-knit group of friends and exploring their interactions throughout the plot (with rather sinister back-stories in a couple of the cases). Thus, I am seeking some more recommendations for books focusing on a similar sort of premise.

Genre is mostly immaterial, I'd say, though I will add that most science fiction-type novels tend not to interest me. However, I would consider an excellent one containing the aspects I mention above.
posted by 1901gunner to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Stephen King's It.
posted by griphus at 1:14 PM on December 3, 2010

These are for a slightly younger age range and, truthfully, have a lot of similarities to The Secret History, but I really enjoyed both Daniel Handler's The Basic Eight and Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2010

It is not perfect-- the handling of rape is often called out as problematic-- but Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry series is very much in that vein.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:18 PM on December 3, 2010

Mary McCarthy's The Group
posted by ella wren at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

"And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer -- as fabulous as it is long. It is important to note that this is character-driven, not plot-driven.

Circle of Friends
by Maeve Binchy -- my favorite of hers.
posted by jgirl at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe not as literary, but The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Alters Everywhere by Rebecca Wells fits your parameters.
posted by Fairchild at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Fairchild at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2010

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:29 PM on December 3, 2010

Sean Dixon's The Girls Who Saw Everything.
posted by scruss at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2010

Margaret Atwood's "Cat's Eye," but I warn you, it's dark.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:39 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tania Kindersley, "Don't Ask Me Why". A second vote for "Cat's Eye".
posted by jeather at 1:45 PM on December 3, 2010

I'm not the biggest fan of this point, but it's the first that came into mind: Duplicate Keys by Jane Smiley
posted by Ideal Impulse at 1:46 PM on December 3, 2010

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean has a tight-knit group of friends, though they don't start out that way.
posted by hought20 at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2010

This is a pretty strong theme in The Lord Of The Rings, particularly the relationship between Sam and Frodo.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:53 PM on December 3, 2010

I was stopping by to recommend "Cat's Eye" as well - it's exactly the type of book you're after.
posted by katie at 1:57 PM on December 3, 2010

Jonathan Tropper's Plan B.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:00 PM on December 3, 2010

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
posted by episodic at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mystic River is about a trio of friends/former friends.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2010

Whether they count as "friends" or not is debatable, but Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh?
posted by purlgurly at 2:31 PM on December 3, 2010

Last Orders - Graham Swift
posted by dayintoday at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2010

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
(includes the sinister twist, and then some)
posted by equivocator at 3:36 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Drop City
Tales of the City
posted by KokuRyu at 4:57 PM on December 3, 2010

OK, all my book suggestions have already been mentioned (so another vote for Never Let Me Go, Cat's Eye, and The Basic Eight), but if you'd also like a movie like this you should watch Shallow Grave.
posted by grapesaresour at 6:51 PM on December 3, 2010

Uncommon Women and Others, Wendy Wasserstein (a play)
An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel
John Dollar, Marianne Wiggins
The Grass Harp, Truman Capote
posted by Paris Elk at 2:23 AM on December 4, 2010

Nora Roberts's books often focus on groups of friends - her In the Garden trilogy, for instance, of which the first is Blue Dahlia. Lots of interaction and dialogue. Avoid her earlier books though.
posted by paduasoy at 3:09 AM on December 4, 2010

A lot of children's / young adult books deal with friendship groups - not sure if you are excluding these from your criteria. Cynthia Voigt's Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers for instance.
posted by paduasoy at 3:13 AM on December 4, 2010

"The Girls From Ames" by Jeffrey Zaslow
"The Class" by Erich Segal
"Outer Banks" by Anne Rivers Siddons

A good movie that perhaps you've seen is "The Deer Hunter".
posted by sundrop at 8:46 AM on December 4, 2010

Wow, y'all are terrific! Have some more of your suggestions to look through, but looks like a number of great books to add to my (ever-growing) to-read pile.

Please feel free to make any more suggestions, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread.

@ equivocator - I've also read Never Let Me Go this year and it's a great one. And you're right, it fits into this vein of what I'm looking for as well!

@ paduasoy - I'm definitely not opposed to good YA novels that don't seem too "childish" (e.g. I enjoyed most of The Hunger Games trilogy and very recently Gayle Forman's If I Stay, though I tried out a couple books in the Artemis Fowl series on a suggestion and found them too tween-oriented for my taste), so I'm definitely willing to check out your suggestion as well
posted by 1901gunner at 8:49 AM on December 4, 2010

Remarque's "Three Comrades" is one of the best books that I read in my childhood. I think it is a better book that "All quiet on the western front"

Amazon link.
Wikipedia link.

The Wikipedia link has spoilers.
posted by justlooking at 11:12 AM on December 4, 2010

Seconding IT by Stephen King.
posted by drewgillson at 8:37 PM on December 4, 2010

The Tomorrow series by Australian writer John Marsden absolutely fits the bill. A series of seven books set in an Australia invaded by an anonymous foreign nation, it revolves around a group of teenage friends who are cut off from their homes and decide to fight back against the invaders. The bonds between the friends are the bedrock of the story - which is terrific. The kind of series you read back to back, breathless, writhing with anticipation to find out what happens next. Strongly recommended.

Also bonus points for being not-that-well-known outside of Australia/NZ.
posted by schmichael at 5:23 AM on December 5, 2010

Cat's Eye yes, but especially The Robber Bride, also by Atwood.
posted by clavicle at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2010

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