I Know Just what You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women's Lives

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"Friendship "matters" to women; it matters a lot; women today -- with lives often in transition -- depend on friends more than ever. Many who once believed marriage was "the" center of life...now know that friends may be the difference between a lonely life and a lively one."

In "I Know Just What You Mean," Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman and novelist/journalist Patricia O'Brien provide a thoughtful, deeply personal look at the enduring bonds of friendship between women. Friends for over a quarter of a century, they bring to their book the unique mix of insight and humor that only such a long and rich relationship can produce.

""You might say we've been writing this book for twenty-six years. Maybe it's the logical outcome for two writing friends. It amazes us now to look back and see what we've been building: the story of our friendship is the story of our divorces, our children, careers, loves, losses, remarriages.We rarely made a move without each other's opinion or listening ear...We moved from youth through middle-age with the requisite accumulation of both wisdom and caution that -- when shared -- made each of us stronger than we would have been alone.""

Drawing on interviews with numerous women from all stages of life -- teenagers, young mothers, elderly women, women in politic and business, sports and media celebrities -- the authors reach beyond their own experiences, providing an intimate look at friendships that begin everywhere from kindergarten to nursing homes. They tell the touching, funny, and sometimes painful stories of women who don't shy away from confronting the problems and demands of friendship.

""When we asked women how theydefined what a close friend is, they leaped past such qualifiers to describe the impact: being known and accepted, understood to the core; trust and loyalty you can count on, having someone on your side. Having someone to share worries and secrets as well as the good stuff of life. Someone who needs you in return.""

The authors explore the problems of famous friends -- how do you stay close when your best friend is one of the richest and most powerful women in the world? They write about friendships that have endured through hardship and misfortune, survived the problems of competing with each other. Looking through history and Hollywood, real life and fiction, they get to the heart of relationships between women.

""Somewhere in the meaning of the word 'trust' is the assumption that a friend has your best interest at heart. Friends can be the collaborators, the instigators who make change possible. They are often the ones who urge us to take a leap, who jump with us or help us scramble back up the other side.""

Throughout the book, there is an ongoing dialogue between Goodman and O'Brien that is sure to resonate with every woman who cherishes her female friends.

""Talk is at the very heart of women's friendship, the core of the way women connect. It's the given, the absolute assumption of friendship. It can be serious or funny, painful or exuberant, intense or joyous. But at the heart of the connections made is one sentence that women repeat over and over: 'I know just what you mean.'""

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I know just what you mean: the power of friendship in women's lives

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Best friends for 25 years, Goodman and O'Brien use their own relationship to build this reflection on women's friendships generally, recalling the impact of men, work, babies, health, and feminism ... Read full review


Know About My Friend Pat
We Talk Therefore We Are Friends
Why Are Mens Friendships So Different?

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About the author (2000)

Ellen Goodman is an Associate Editor at The Boston Globe and writes a syndicated column that appears in more than 400 newspapers. Author of several books, including Turning Points and Close to Home, she lives in Boston.

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