The best books about the wonder and complexity of friendships, love and belonging

Who am I?

From the moment my grandmother told me that books were not created by magic, but that real people write books (I was five years old) I knew that I wanted to become a writer—as surely as did Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Themes of the joy, the complexity, and responsibility of friendship and family, of working together despite great challenges to overcome obstacles for purposes beyond ourselves, and of doing that while sometimes working through stages of grief all resonate with me, are all part of my life. The books I’ve recommended, as well as the books I’ve written, contain those themes.

I wrote...

Ladies of the Lake

By Cathy Gohlke,

Book cover of Ladies of the Lake

What is my book about?

Forced to leave her beloved Prince Edward Island, Adelaide Rose MacNeil discovers three kindred spirits at boarding school. As “Ladies of the Lake,” the sisterhood vows allegiance for life. But that is before: Before love and jealousy come between Adelaide and Dorothy, the closest of the friends. Before the dawn of World War I upends their world, casting baseless suspicion onto the German American man they both love. Before a terrible explosion in Halifax Harbor rips the sisterhood irrevocably apart.

Seventeen years later, Rosaline Murray receives an unsuspecting phone call, drawing her into a past she’d determined to forget. To memories of a man she once loved... of a sisterhood she abandoned... and of the day she stopped being Adelaide MacNeill.

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The books I picked & why

The Words We Lost

By Nicole Deese,

Book cover of The Words We Lost

Why did I love this book?

The Words We Lost is a powerful portrayal of the surprising gift of kindred spirits, of the trust required to grow deep friendships, and of the intense emotions when friendships are interrupted by death—all things I’ve been dealing with in the recent loss of a dear friend. 

This book is a beautiful study of the long and complicated, individual journey of grief, and of the persistence needed to restore broken trusts. Trust, friendship, betrayal, grief, and the journey to restoration of trust and friendship are all themes close to my heart—themes beautifully portrayed in the contemporary story of The Words We Lost.

By Nicole Deese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Words We Lost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three friends. Two broken promises. One missing manuscript.

As a senior acquisitions editor for Fog Harbor Books in San Francisco, Ingrid Erikson has rejected many a manuscript for lack of defined conflict and dramatic irony--two elements her current life possesses in spades. In the months following the death of her childhood best friend and international bestselling author Cecelia Campbell, Ingrid has not only lost her ability to escape into fiction due to a rare trauma response, but she's also desperate to find the closure she's convinced will come with Cecelia's missing final manuscript.

After Ingrid jeopardizes her career, she fears…

Band of Sisters

By Lauren Willig,

Book cover of Band of Sisters

Why did I love this book?

I love this group of very different women from Smithfield College who band together amid the Great War and set sail to nurse in war-torn France. 

Armed with good intentions but few practical skills and little knowledge of what they’re getting into, nothing is as they imagined—not the lodging, the lack of welcome, the unimagined obstacles, or the many differences in personalities that challenge them. Still, they buckle down to learn critical skills by doing, overcome countless obstacles while surviving dangerous characters and circumstances, work through their own personality clashes and prejudices, and accomplish more than they or anyone expected. 

The gift and beauty is that in banding together to accomplish the impossible they develop deep and lasting friendships. Band of Sisters is rich in inspiration desperately needed in our time.

By Lauren Willig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Band of Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines...A triumph."
- Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story-a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network-from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith's Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers…

Book cover of Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey

Why did I love this book?

Sensible Shoes is the insightful and rewarding journey of four women, strangers in different stages of life—each with very different difficulties, needs, and backgrounds—who meet at a retreat center to embark on a spiritual journey of exploration and growth. 

Meeting weekly, they not only explore and implement new spiritual practices, but gain both personal and collective revelation. Overcoming preconceived opinions and judgments, they develop trust in one another to share intimate truths from their isolated lives.  Bearing one another’s burdens, they develop strong friendships and goals. 

Beautifully written, this is the first book in a four-book series but works well as a stand-alone. It would be a treasure to read in a group setting with other women and to implement the spiritual practices together.

By Sharon Garlough Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sensible Shoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over 100,000 Copies Sold Worldwide!
Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention

Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation:

Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is.

Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.

Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage.

Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.

You're invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find…

The Beantown Girls

By Jane Healey,

Book cover of The Beantown Girls

Why did I love this book?

Good friends stick together through thick and thin. That’s the premise I took away from The Beantown Girls. 

When one of three forever best friends from Boston learns that her fiancé is missing in WWII action, she determines to go to Europe and against all odds, find him. She convinces her two best friends—women with very different personalities, very different gifts, and skills—to join her as Red Cross Clubmobile girls in what could be a grand adventure or a terrible risk to their lives. 

They never expected to care so deeply for the soldiers they go to help, to encounter the horrors and deprivation of war they do, or that their friendship and camaraderie will be tested and yet become the thing that carries them through.

By Jane Healey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Beantown Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller.

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II's brightest heroines-the best of friends-take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She'll work in city hall, marry her fiance when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiance is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona's long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiance's fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to…

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Why did I love this book?

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters live and breathe in my heart. 

In Anne of Green Gables, orphaned Anne Shirley is taken in by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of quaint Avonlea on beautiful Prince Edward Island. Anne’s many social challenges, her antics—well-meaning but with frequent disastrous (and humorous) results, her close friendship with neighboring Diana Barry, and her many hopes and longings and dreams warm and delight my heart. 

Like Anne, several characters in my own stories—as well as I—longed from childhood to become a writer. In my book, my heroine, also an orphan from Prince Edward Island, strikes up a correspondence with the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. 

Anne of Green Gables is a book rich in characters that will never grow old—a perfect pleasure.

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, France, and Canada?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, France, and Canada.

World War 2 Explore 1,545 books about World War 2
France Explore 779 books about France
Canada Explore 295 books about Canada

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