With her critically acclaimed debut novel, Still Life with Husband, Lauren Fox established herself as a wise and achingly funny chronicler of domestic life and was hailed as “a delightful new voice in American fiction, a voice that instantly recalls the wry, knowing prose of Lorrie Moore” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times). Fox’s new novel glitters with these pleasures—fearless wordplay, humor, and nuance—and asks us the question at the heart of every friendship: What would you give up for a friend’s happiness?
For Willa Jacobs, seeing her best friend, Jane Weston, is like looking in a mirror on a really good day. Strangers assume they are sisters, a comparison Willa secretly enjoys. They share an apartment, clothing, and groceries, eking out rent with part-time jobs. Willa writes advertising copy, dreaming up inspirational messages for tea bags (“The path to enlightenment is steep” and “Oolong! Farewell!”), while Jane cleans houses and writes poetry about it, rhyming “dust” with “lust,” and “clog of hair” with “fog of despair.” Together Willa and Jane are a fortress of private jokes and shared opinions, with a friendship so close there’s hardly room for anyone else. But when Ben, Willa’s oldest friend, reappears and falls in love with Jane, Willa wonders: Can she let her two best friends find happiness with each other if it means leaving her behind?
Fox's funny and bittersweet new novel tackles the fragility of friendship. In high school, heroine Willa was best friends with Ben, but the two drifted apart after their freshman year of college. The adult Willa is now best friends and roommates with Jane, who is like her in every way. After Ben and Willa reconnect at a high school reunion, he confesses that he was in love with her when they were teenagers. Though they fail to begin a romance, they do resume their friendship. But when Ben meets Jane and they start dating, a love triangle forms, with Willa serving as the essential, but confused third wheel. As Ben and Jane's relationship becomes more serious, the attraction between Ben and Willa grows, and all three must cope with the consequences. Instead of making Willa's story maudlin and clich d, Fox (Still Life with Husband) steers her characters toward a surprisingly realistic and complex conclusion. A thoughtful, delicate book.
Friends Like Us
Insightful, realistic, witty, highly readable.