After recently reading a stack of show-stopping novels that have female friendship at their beating heart, this Collection brings together some of the best books about sisterhood.
True to life, while many of these recommended reads see some relationships enter rockier territory from time to time, as a whole they present a hearty — and often heart-warming — picture of the nature, joys, and complexities of sisterhood. Read them all, and you’ll experience an exhilarating rollercoaster of relationships.
For the best books about sibling relationships — from feel-good charmers, to those covering more fraught relations! — explore our Collection of fabulous fiction about siblings. You might also take a fancy to this feast of fiction about friendship.
But back to sisterhood. Let’s launch right in with The Hive. In the words of Debs, our MD, this is a “dark, delicious, debut psychological thriller”. A “read-in-one-sitting, on the edge of your seat page-turner” that sees its protagonist navigate the highs and lows of life online with the help of a “powerful sisterhood”. I’m sold!
A recent personal favourite, noir-ish An Afterlife for Rosemary Lamb is centred around the unlikely sisterhood that forms between three female outcasts who live on the margins of a small-town Australian community. With secrets, lies and the mystery of a missing girl unfolding in gripping and unexpected style, this is a page-turner that’ll make you think.
The same is true of Amanda Craig’s The Three Graces. With its beautiful portrayal of octogenarian sisterhood, evocative Tuscan setting, and exploration of pulls between the old and the new, the past and present, it comes recommended for readers who love to be immersed in rich literary feasts.
On that subject, for a feast of Gallic goodness that shows the complexity of female friendships through time, read After Paris.
Love whip-smart-witty contemporary fiction? Senta Rich's Hotel 21 is a satisfyingly sassy page-turner about trust and life-affirming, sisterly friendship, as explored through a kleptomaniac hotel cleaner who’s cut off all connections to other people until she meets her new colleagues. This really is a joy — funny, moving and, in a word, beautiful. You won’t forget these women in a hurry!
Staying on the feel-good theme, we recently adored The Women Who Wouldn't Leave. Showing how a community under threat comes together to find glorious unity, its portrayal of intergenerational bonds between two women at opposite ends of life’s journey is hands-down heart-warming. I simply adored grumpy-to-gracious Matilda!
And now for something entirely different. Set in the Caribbean, Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay is a masterwork of speculative fiction that explores humanity and hope in the devastating wake of climate change. With women leading the ferociously brave efforts to forge a new future, sisterhood is at this novel’s heart, with a stirring sense of warrior women stepping into the unknown to save the world.
For an explosive coming-of-age story, try Melissa Coss Aquino’s Carmen and Grace. Centred on an underground drug empire in the Bronx, while the unforgettable Carmen and Grace are cousins, their relationship is one of sisterly love, protection and complexity.
Electric with the obsessive sisterly bond between two Canadian college students, Laurie Petrou’s Stargazer is an un-put-downable page-turner for readers who love female-focused literary thrillers.
While we’re here, we’d also like to highlight a few winners from the YA arena — novels about sisterhood that were ostensibly written for younger readers, but transcend age boundaries. Take Piglettes for example, which sees three French girls discover liberté, égalité and sororité in a witty story of female friendship and empowerment. You go, girls! Or should that be “Allez-y les filles!”
Then there’s Jessie Burton’s Medusa – an illustrated, fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land is a soul-stirring, heart-healing YA novel-in-verse in which sisters separated by the Atlantic are united by grief for the father they never knew they shared.
A gender flipped version of SE Hinton’s YA trailblazer The Outsiders, Jennifer Mathieu’s Bad Girls Never Say Die also defies the restrictions of age boundaries — think sisterhood across social divides and brave struggles for self-determination.
Finally, we leave you with Cinderella is Dead, a flamboyant feminist reinvention of Cinderella that sees justice-seeking heroine, Sophia, find a sisterly companion (and more, maybe….) when she connects with flame-haired Constance.