To me, there is little comfort in the world other than reading a good book— especially when that book involves a core female friendship which propels the novel and reminds us all of the importance of sisterhood. These friendships and sisterhoods may be between women who differ in values, backgrounds, or personalities, but they remain united in the face of tragedy, of hardship, or of simply distance/time. Let’s explore some of literature’s best and most inspiring sisterhoods.
ANNE AND DIANA FROM ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Anne of Green Gables was my favorite book growing up, and that may never really change. My beloved Anne Shirley and her glorious imagination, knack for getting into scrapes, and ability to see beauty in every corner of the world are very close to my heart. Not long after Anne (an orphan who has never had a proper home) arrives at Green Gables, she is introduced to her neighbor Diana, who has lived in the setting’s town of Avonlea all her life. Anne has a flowery and vivid imagination and blossoming ambition. Diana is much more practical and emotionally reserved than Anne. Nevertheless, the two form an instant connection as “kindred spirits” and swear to be each others’ “bosom friend.” Throughout the entire Anne of Green Gables series, Anne goes off to college, gets married, and moves far away; however, Anne and Diana’s connection remains strong through it all. They are ever-faithful, always writing to each other and reuniting whenever they can. They never begrudge each other their differences or successes, but remain sisters until the end.
BETSY AND TACY FROM THE BETSY-TACY BOOKS
I think this childhood series tells the stories of one of literature’s very best friendships. Betsy and Tacy meet at the young age of six when Tacy moves into the house across the street from Betsy. Tacy is fearfully shy; while Betsy is unashamedly gregarious. All along their journey as friends through childhood, high school, university studies, travel, and even career and marriage, the two’s bond never lessens. They are never jealous, but always supportive. Calling the series The Betsy-Tacy Books really does justice for the importance of their friendship and it’s ability to ever-last.
LILA AND ELENA FROM THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS
Lila and Elena both grow up as childhood friends in a poor neighborhood in Naples, Italy. Their unavoidable rivalry strengthens their personalities, both individually and together. Lila is feisty, clever, beautiful, and ambitious; but her parents take her out of schooling early on. She barrels through her life, depicted with detail throughout the novels, until she eventually disappears. Elena grows up to be a pretty, successful author, but her success is no measurement to the image she has of Lila. She continually worries that she is living in Lila’s shadow, that the inspiration for her great writing is actually Lila, and that the title of the first novel “My Brilliant Friend,” could refer to either of them. Their rivalry is bright and fiery, but they also encourage each other to be better. They drive each other to keep going, and to be the best that they can be.
AIBILEEN AND MINNY FROM THE HELP
Author Kathryn Stockett portrays a handful of wonderful friendships in her novel, The Help, the strongest of which is between Aibileen and Minny. While they are close friends, their personalities are totally distinct; which perhaps exemplifies the diversity that their employers overlook. Grouped together as “the help,” they are assumed to be interchangeable forces, rather than individual human beings. Aibileen’s kindness and steadiness, and Minny’s grit and resolve help each other through the trials and tribulations faced within the novel. Their constant is their friendship serves as one of the driving themes of the anonymously written collection of stories that is published in the end of The Help, and of the actual novel itself.
MEG, JO, BETH, AND AMY MARCH FROM LITTLE WOMEN
The Marches are sisters who could not be more different in terms of personalities, while coming from the same background. Their father is away at war, and they live at home with their wise, kind and ever-present mother. In the beginning of the story, Meg loves beautiful things, Jo is a tomboy, Beth is quiet and likes to stay at home, and Amy is a rather selfish artist. As the story progresses, they don’t lose these core traits; however, they all blossom into strong, caring, supportive little women. They suffer death, loss, and grave illness; never ceasing to celebrate friendship and love. They each have their own adventures as the novel goes on, but they always come back home to help lift one another up and enjoy each other’s company. Little Women is a must-read for anyone looking for a heart-warming novel with a powerful feminist message.
LILI AND GRETA FROM THE DANISH GIRL
This is an interesting one. Throughout Lili’s transition from Einar, Greta’s husband, into Lili, Greta’s is faithfully by her side. As a painter constantly searching out the beauty around her, she sees infinite beauty in Einar which leads to his feeling of comfort in pursuing his true identity. Lili becomes Greta’s fascinating model and best friend. Furthermore, Greta is an immigrant: she moved from California to Denmark at a young age, and can begin understands what it’s like to find a new place to establish your own identity. Greta is incredibly supportive of each surgery and every confidence crisis, no matter how difficult the situation is for Greta herself (losing her husband and the life she knew). The women go their own ways once Lili has completed her transformation surgery and becomes an full blown anatomical woman. Though their marriage inevitably ended, Greta not only helped Lili find her way, she was steadfast in her love and encouragement every step of the way.
ANNA AND KATE FROM MY SISTER’S KEEPER
Anna, Kate’s little sister, serves as organ doner for Kate, who suffers from leukemia. The two are very close, as Anna’s blood, quite literally, flows through Kate’s veins. She has saved her sister’s life multiple times, and Kate is very grateful. Though, at times, Anna feels like she can’t even be her own person because of her inevitable connection to Kate, and the fact that any endangerment to Kate is endangering Anna as well. At the end of the novel, it is revealed just how much Kate appreciates what Anna has done for her, and the two sisters symbolize how their close relationship breeds actual life between them the two of them.
LIZZY AND JANE BENNET FROM PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Elizabeth and Jane are the two eldest daughters in their rather ridiculous family. They reside in the cleverly-titled house of Longbourn. As the famous Mr. Darcy puts it, the entire Bennet family shows a “lack of propriety,” apart from Lizzy and Jane. They have to put up with their silly, flighty sisters, utterly obnoxious (but well intentioned) mother, and statuses as societally inferior, middle-class citizens. Lizzy and Jane always confide in and lean on each other through the heartbreak and tremendously tedious times. Jane looks for the very best in everyone, while Lizzy is more jaded and protective of her sister. They admire each other’s best qualities and try to emulate them. Pride and Prejudice is a classic— and a perfect example of true sisterhood.
What are your favorite literary sisterhoods? Are you looking for the Anne to your Diana, or the Lizzy to your Jane? Download Hey! VINA !
(Featured image via Anne of Green Gables)