By Serena Clarke, author of All Over the Place
We all know that the friendships between women are special. Some of our favorite books reflect the way we love our best girlfriends. The Joy Luck Club, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Friday Night Knitting Club, The Jane Austen Book Club… (Women in quirkily-named clubs seem to be all the rage lately – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, anyone?) Then there are the movie versions of those books – from Beaches to Thelma and Louise and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
In the run-up to the release of my book All Over the Place, I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, and less time keeping up with my friends. It’s all in a good cause of course, and they know I’m busy making a dream come true – but I miss them! There has been an unexpected consolation, though. Online, I’ve become friends with women all over the world – writers, bloggers, readers and reviewers, all of them book lovers, and many of them with a steady supply of man candy to share. (You know who you are!)
These friendships – online and in real life – give me encouragement, inspiration and a safe place to talk things through. No, we’re not complaining, wallowing or over-analyzing! It’s healthy to share, you know. And if sharing includes your latest crush, we can cope. Recent confessions from my girls include Channing Tatum, Colin Firth, Brax from Home and Away, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Pattinson, Tom Selleck, Orlando Bloom, Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh, James Hetfield from Metallica, and Hughs Laurie and Bonneville. You may have to do some Googling on this – just call it research!
So far, science has nothing to say on Channing versus Cumberbatch, but it backs me up on the value of sharing. A UCLA study has shown that for women, the commonly accepted ‘fight or flight’ is not necessarily their primary response to stress. Instead, they suggest that women respond with a cascade of chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. Thank you, oxytocin and estrogen! And numerous studies have found that these social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol – which helps us to live longer, healthier and happier lives. That’s what I call girl power.
In All Over the Place, Livi loses her two best friends when she leaves New Zealand after a reality TV disaster. But the friends she makes in her new life in London give her support, advice, chocolate, and a new place to call home. They also complicate things a little for her…but isn’t that just how it goes? We love our girlfriends through it all, and hope they’ll do the same for us. And, as Livi finds out, they’re the first people you call on when times are tough – or when you finally get your happy ever after.