The Independent: Be inspired by this celebration of female friendship, of women behaving badly, and of the need to make room in your life not only for the people you love, but for yourself.
Date: Jul 11 2015
Ailment: Torn between friendship and love
Cure: Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth
An intense friendship can be as powerful – and compelling – as a romantic love. When played out simultaneously, we tend to assume that the sexual partner will win out – particularly when it concerns individuals of a settling-down age. But this isn't always the case, and sometimes both relationships may be unravelled by the competition. Those torn between two such intimacies should read Unsworth's rollercoaster of a second novel: perched on the horns of Laura's dilemma, you'll be able to decide which way to jump.
Laura lives with Tyler, an American girl hailing from "tornado country" in a grungy flat in Manchester. They both have dead-end jobs, despite being highly educated (Tyler is given to quoting Yeats and Beowulf in unguarded pre-dawn moments) – preferring a "quick path to oblivion" to a career. Wise-cracking and charismatic, Tyler is able to conjure up a party in the most challenging of circumstances. Laura loves her friend's hedonism, and leaps on for the ride. Meanwhile, Laura is half-heartedly writing a novel about a priest who falls in love with a talking pig.
Her fiance, Jim, is somewhat straight in comparison. A concert pianist, he values his bloodstream, and decides to give up drink and other intoxicants altogether. When there's a scheduling clash between his latest concert and Tyler's birthday, he can't quite accept that this might keep Laura from him for the whole weekend, having forgotten his own all-night partying days.Laura compromises in the end, but no one is entirely satisfied with the arrangement, and it's clear that something has to give. Will Laura have to drop her addictive friendship in order to instead embrace a sensible marriage?
Her eventual choice is both liberating and empowering. Be inspired by this celebration of female friendship, of women behaving badly, and of the need to make room in your life not only for the people you love, but for yourself.