Twenty years ago, childhood best friends Celia and Djuna went on a walk—and only Djuna returned. Ceila has spent her life repressing the memories of what happened on that walk. Now back in her home town, Ceila is determined to reckon with the truth. Myla Goldberg’s novel The False Friend is a brilliant exploration of friendship, memory, and the cruelty of children. Reading about Ceila and Djuna put us in mind of one of one of our favorite subjects: frenemies (part enemy, part friend). Below, a list of classic literary examples.
The Little Girls by Elizabeth Bowen: Dinah, Clare, and Sheila. Former childhood best friends reunite in old age to uncover a long lost chest only to discover they are no longer the friends they used to be.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Lily Bart and Bertha Dorset. Lily accepts an invitation from Bertha to join her and her husband on a cruise. All starts well but ends badly when Bertha accuses Lily of sleeping with her husband to cover up her own infidelity. As a result Lily is disinherited and, ultimately, ruined.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: Kathy and Ruth. The two both fall for their fellow classmate, Tommy. Ruth, the stronger personality of the two dates Tommy for years, despite knowing that he and Kathy are truly in love. Her reason for keeping them apart? She didn’t want to be left out.
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood: Elaine and Cordelia. Elaine reflects on her childhood, during which she was both tortured and beloved by Cordelia. Their strange friend-enemy relationship has profound effects on her future relationships.
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin: Rachel and Darcy. Friends since they were four, Rachel and Darcy had been one-upping each other their whole lives. But when Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiancé, the competition is taken to a whole new level.