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In Praise of Friendships


One of the best aspects of the Folley & Mallory books is friendship. While there are absolutely romances in these books, there are also friendships, which can be no less complicated than romantic love. Virgil and Auberon are partners in their work, and have slowly become friends, after the loss of Virgil’s prior partner, Joel. Over the course of the books, those two are more like brothers; they sure do give each other hell.

Eleanor Folley and Cleo Barclay also come to be friends, which seems more rare to me — we don’t often see ladies as straight-up friends, because so often women, when placed together, cannot be side by side, but must be in competition with one another, be it over a job, a man, or a bridal bouquet. I didn’t want Eleanor and Cleo to be that way; I wanted each to be confident in themselves and share that confidence with a solid friend, someone they could count on when the going got tough — which it did right off for Eleanor. (And heck, when confidence dips in one, have the other come in to support.)

In Rings of Anubis, Cleo is one of the agents who has kept the mummy known as The Lady safe all these years, so she’s the one Eleanor must deal with if Eleanor wants access to The Lady, which Eleanor very much does. Eleanor respects Cleo’s work, just as Cleo respects what Eleanor believes about the mummy; Cleo is just as fascinated by the ancient body and eager to finally have the opportunity, albeit covert, to explore it and determine exactly what’s going on with it.

In The Honey Mummy, we see that the friendship of Eleanor and Cleo has deepened; with Eleanor stationed in Paris and Cleo in Cairo, they share a correspondence, which leads to Eleanor gifting Cleo with something special when they are once again reunited. The Honey Mummy turns the tables on Cleo Barclay — as she helped Eleanor with a personal matter in RoA, now Eleanor helps her with something equally personal. Cleo is asked to open her private life the way Eleanor was, which in turn leads to Eleanor revealing something new and dangerous to Cleo.

I greatly enjoy writing this friendship. While Cleo and Eleanor do talk about the gentlemen in their lives, they have a relationship that reaches beyond them, that exists outside of them. It is a friendship rooted in respect, trust, and science.

When I think of these two ladies, I think of other great friendships between women: Kate and Lanie (Castle), Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables), Mary and Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy), CeeCee and Bertie (Beaches, shut up), the Golden Girls (!), Thelma and Louise, Celie and Sofia (The Color Purple), Lorelai and Sookie and Rory and Lane (Gilmore Girls), Ruth and Idgie (Fried Green Tomatoes), Enid and Rebecca (Ghost World), Claire and Geillis (Outlander), Harley and Poison Ivy (but are they dating?!), Hermione and Harry (what), Phryne and Mac, Little Women Little Women Little Women, and…I could probably be here all day.

What are some of your favorites?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • A.C. Wise February 26, 2016, 11:56 am

    Leslie Knope and Anne Perkins on Parks and Rec! The friendships in general on that show are strong. Everyone seems to genuinely care for each other, and they actually communicate with each other, another thing that’s sadly rare, especially in television comedy.

  • Rachael February 26, 2016, 3:48 pm

    Cordelia Vorkosigan and Alys Vorpatril in the vorkosigan saga, though I wish it got more time on the page. There are a lot of solid female friendships in those books.

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