Book summary: In the Name of Friendship

2006 BY MARILYN FRENCH

In the Name of Friendship dares to investigate how the women’s movement changed the lives of those it touched and what hurdles it left to cross.

Set in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, this wise novel is a group portrait of four disparate women who forge life-altering friendships despite personalities that vary as greatly as their vocations and ages. The novel weaves together a series of family crises with the friendships that help the four women refashion their lives. Maddy, the seventy-six-year-old real estate agent and matriarch of the group, struggles with the gradual death of her angry and rebellious Vietnam-marked son; fifty-year-old Alicia fights to reconnect her gay son with her newly retired husband; seventy-year-old musician Emily strives to bridge the gap with her estranged niece right at the moment her composition career starts to finally bloom; and Jenny, the thirty-year-old painter and baby of the group, questions the life she has created with her successful painter husband and tries to decide if she wants more from life.

With this unusual group of multi-generational ladies, French tells a truly rare tale about four women who accidentally come into each other’s lives and in the process form an enduring friendship. It is a story of supporting one another, of looking at the grim conflicts created by cultural expectations of women, and realizing you are not alone—truly a tale of continuing hope.

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