Celebrating platonic love and friendship
Posted on February 14, 2022
Like it or not, the month of February means that the veneration of romantic love is inescapable. Even more than usual, this one relationship is treated as the most important in our lives.
Romantic love is a wonderful phenomenon, but not the be all and end all, so we wanted to redress the balance a little, shining the spotlight on a love we all benefit from and nurture, but rarely take the time to shout about in the same way: friendship.
We’ve become somewhat familiar with ‘Galentine’s Day’ in the last few years. First invented in the eponymous Parks and Rec episode in which female friends gather for a ‘Ladies Celebrating Ladies’ brunch, February 13 has become a day when women get together to acknowledge the significance and power of their friendship.
Maggie and Wilma of Claire Macleary’s Harcus & Laird series (Cross Purpose, Burnout, Runaway, Payback – and coming soon, Death Drop) are a favourite female duo who do just that, though they are bonded by more sinister events than brunch. Their friendship develops when Maggie takes over the detective agency of her late husband and enlists the help of Wilma. Throughout the series they face darkness and danger as they’re dragged behind the closed doors of Aberdeen. Though their friendship is often pushed to its limits by the challenges they face, they face it all together.
Of course, friendships can be more complicated than women supporting women. Our friends are there for us when romantic relationships don’t work out, but friendship breakups can be just as painful, and the friendships themselves just as complicated.
Our Women Writers Revisited series on the Brontës delves into the complex truth behind each of the Brontë sisters and, amongst other things, investigates the mythology surrounding their sisterhood and friendship. For decades, the Brontë sisters have been pitted against each other by biographers, but these three books treat each as an individual author in her own right, as well as acknowledging the often testing nature of their shared lives.
Male friendships also deserve to be recognised as sources of love and support. In Chris Dolan’s Everything Passes, Everything Remains, the friends he travels across Spain with support each other not only on their physical journey, but through mental health challenges and grief, too. Here, companionship – time spent with those who simply ‘get’ you – is just as transformative as their epic cycling trip. This is summed up beautifully in the following extract, in which Chris Dolan speaks of supporting a friend on the trip who has experienced a recent loss:
“Liam and I recognise when the pain gets too much. Without a word between us we know when to back off, when to let him cycle on, or (extremely rarely) behind, with his own thoughts and grief. When to judge the moment of re-engagement. Crack the joke, ask him for one of his shaggy dog stories. In Venda de Barreira Eddie stayed in his room and, tellingly, even declined to come down and watch the football.”
If you’re spending today with friends, whether virtually or in person, we think that’s a love worth celebrating too. To help you do just that, we’ve dedicated our February Playlist to the joy of friendship.
We encourage you to send it to your pals, single or otherwise, to show your love. Why not make your own platonic love mixtape and send us a link on Twitter (@SarabandBooks)?
We’d love to see how you’re celebrating your friends today!