Thursday, August 2, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner (CB): Friendships/Partnerships

Say a big nice warm welcome back to my guest blogger, CB! Today, she is going to expound on friendships and partnerships in some of her favorite books!

The kind of relationship in books (and other media) that gets me all excited and prone to SQUEE and such -- well, you know after my last post that it's not going to be romance, right? Right! My favorite, favorite kind of relationship in books is deep friendship and/or partnership. Bonus points for both!

Of course, there's no reason that friendship and/or partnership can't coexist with romance, and it often does; this is my favorite kind of romance as well. Tor and Aerin, in Hero and the Crown, have a highly satisfactory lifelong friendship that eventually turns into romance. Calvin and Meg, in Madeleine L'Engle's books (starting with Wrinkle in Time), have interplanetary hijinks that cement a deep friendship that is also romantic. (I think Calvin and Meg have always been my Very Favorite Couple Ever, honestly.) Kit and Nita took ten books or so to get on with it, but their wizard partnership and friendship in the Diane Duane So You Want to Be a Wizard books eventually deepen into romance, surprising approximately no one either in the books or out. (I adore all the books listed in this paragraph. If you haven't read all of these books, you need to.)
A Wrinkle in Time TrilogyThe Hero and the Crown (Damar, #2)So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards, #1)

The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #1)From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler

But non-romantic friendships have a special place in my heart. Mixed male-female nonromantic partnerships exist, though they are often sibling/relation-based -- the brother and sister in The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, or Colin and Mary in The Secret Garden, or Mae and Jamie in Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon trilogy. Harry Potter and Hermione Granger! (Though honestly? In the movies I thought Harry and Hermione had crazy romantic chemistry...)

Male bromances (well, partnership-friendships) are, of course, a staple of literature, at least as far back as David and Jonathan of Hebrew Bible fame. Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Bunter and Lord Peter Wimsey. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. Reuven and Daniel (if you have not read Chaim Potok's The Chosen, for an amazing story of friendship between boys, you really should -- one of my all-time favorites). Gen and Costis from Megan Whalen Turner's YA Attolia books (this series is also one of my favorites, although the first in the series, The Thief, is quite a bit weaker). All wonderful, spectacular friendship/partnerships.

I wish there were as many strong women friendships/partnerships! They're a bit thinner on the ground, at least once you get past grade-school books (Anne of Green Gables and Diana! Meg-Jo-Beth-Amy March!) -- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vor and Chalion series (both of which I adore) have some of this -- Cordelia and Alys in the Vor books, Iselle and Beatriz in Curse of Chalion. The lovely, playful cousins Kate and Cecy in Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer'sSorcery and Cecelia (which is a really, really fun book, although I didn't like the sequels quite as much). And -- I swear I will try to cut down on the frequency of talking about this book (I just read it and I am all excited about it) -- Code Name Verity is a perfect example of the kind of partnership-friendship that I wish we saw more of.

What's your favorite book friendship/partnership? Any really good female ones (or male ones, or mixed, or romantic ones) I should know about?


  1. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. First off, what a wealth of knowledge you are about books. Your insight is such a great fit for this blog. I'll give my own little antic dote, which comes from a movie I just watched, not a book. It was THIS MEANS WAR. It had Reese Witherspoon, and two guys with big lips (one of them is Bane in Batman right now). The movie was exactly what I expected it to be, this shout out is not meant to be a ringing endorsement. I'm glad I watched it - it had its strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the whole movie for me, though, was the bond between the two guys. Of course, the girl comes between them at some point in the movie, and I was totally rooting for the guys to get back together, and if the thing with the girl worked out for them, great, whatever. Their friendship was more interesting that the romantic storyline. The book I'm reading right now, ENDER'S GAME has a strong brother/sister relationship that I think is going to prove critical to the entire story when I finish it. Thanks for all the great book suggestions!

    1. Thanks Shawn! Yeah, Ender's Game is another with a strong brother/sister relationship. I love that book!

  3. Great thoughts! I think a lot of the friendships/partnerships you mentioned are overlooked because of a cultural obsession with romance. It's great that you took the time to acknowledge some of the qualities that make these relationships so fulfilling and awesome to read about! I don't know if human-creature relationships qualify, but I LOVED how Phillip Pullman explored the relationships between the human characters and their respective daemons. Somehow he made those relationships so incredibly intimate, despite the cross-species nature of them. Thanks, again for sharing!

    1. (Hi Adam!! Hope you're doing well!) Oh, YES! I'd even categorize that as something even more special, something that doesn't fall into easily demarcated categories like romance or friendship -- Pullman created something different and strange and not like what we usually experience, which is really something I think the best fantasy/SF does.

  4. This great comment is from Robert (per me as unfortunately he is unable to post):
    I am currently reading "Last Summer" by Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) in which friendship between four teens vacationing at the beach for the summer is examined. Think of Albert Camu's "The Stranger" on Fire Island with four sociopathic teenagers. Sound creepy? It is, but it examines teen friendship/romance in a most interesting way. It was published in 1968 and is a bit difficult to find nowadays, but worth the effort. I have a great local library that borrowed a copy for me from another library 450 miles away. It really makes me appreciate what a splendid thing a library is.

  5. A frienship within a storyline is so important, whether that be romance or other as it helps the reader to connect with the characters and their 'real' emotions. It makes the characters seem human and believable, and being able to connect with them is so important.

  6. i just love bromance and friendships. especially those which could become at a certain point - three to fourty books away ;) - even romantic.
    a great factor why i love them so much is the trope of instant love that goes around nowadays. it frustrates me to no end. it's so unrealistic in books - and pretty boring. give me a couple that first started out bickering or even couldn't stand each other, develops a shaky respect, that develops into friendship, that blossoms into a lifelong romantic commitment any day. it's that much more satisfying.
    then there is the whole bromance thing. it's one of the best things to happen to a slash-fan like me ^^ i can explore millions of different scenarios through fanfiction after the book/s is/are finished. bromance often is left open for lots of speculation - well you never know perhaps watson and sherlock did have the hots for each other off screen *grins*
    and thanks for the list of books.