August 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm , by Lisa M. Gerry
In Sally Koslow’s third novel, With Friends Like These, four women—Quincy, Talia, Chloe, and Jules—struggle to maintain their ten-year friendship. Some have babies, some don’t. Some have money, some don’t. Some have happy marriages, some…not so much. But those differences haven’t seemed to matter until now—when what the women thought were lifelong loyalties are betrayed.
What do you consider to be the central message of With Friends Like These?
It’s that friendship is fragile. And it gets increasingly complex as our lives become more complicated. It’s somewhat more straightforward when we’re in our twenties, but as our lives progress we have partners, children, financial constraints, ambition and professional rivalry. We would like to be able to do the right thing by our friends, but sometimes our more immediate goal is pleasing our families.
Was there one character you most related to?
I put parts of myself, people in my imagination, as well as little tiny molecules of people I’ve known in my real life into all four women. I tried to draw on my better and worse parts to create four characters that were realistically flawed. I don’t think there are any villainesses here. While a reader might relate to one more than others, I tried very hard to come up with situations that reflect real dilemmas people face.
Because two of the characters ultimately betray their best friends, some critics may say these women reinforce some of the negative stereotypes about women—the back stabbing and cattiness. How would you respond to that?
Well, I think that stereotypes come out of truth, and I think that life is not all Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Women are no worse than the other gender when it comes to looking out for themselves. I feel this book is a pretty accurate portrayal, but I would urge readers to read to the very end because it’s about forgiveness and regrets. We do often live with a lot of regret, and I think that when we’re 25 years old or even 35 years old we might think that if we lose a friend, there’s somebody else to replace that person. And that’s simply not the case. Sometimes you have a whole phantom limb where that friend used to be—and you feel that for the rest of your life. To a certain extent the book’s a cautionary tale.