Meg Wolitzer and Emily Bitto chatted to Bethanie Blanchard about the themes of love and friendship in their novels. Emily's debut novel The Strays is about the intense friendship between two young girls in Melbourne 1930s. Meg's novel The interestings is about a group of teenagers in the 1970s and how their relationships progress into middle age.
The strays' main character is Lily who is an outsider befriended by Eva, the daughter of an avant-garde artist. Lily desperately wants to be part of this bohemian circle. She cannot see how damaged Eva is by this family. Lily's desire to be extraordinary blinds her to everything else. But when it comes to love Lily settles for an ordinary man. Romanticising the life of the artists doesn't necessary mean you have to choose a romantic life for yourself.
Meg's book is about a group of teenagers who meet on Summer Camp in the 1970s. They call themselves The Interestings and believe they are superior to everyone else due to their talent and ambition. But it is love that keeps them together. Meg wanted to explore platonic love in her book. It's a theme that doesn't get explored much in literature. The relationship between Jules and Ethan is a deep friendship that never turns romantic.
Both books deal with specialness and the deep burning desire to be extraordinary. The relentlessnes of specialness becomes a burden for the characters In the end of The Interestings one character declares that they are not all that interesting at all.
Meg has also written an excellent article titled The Second Shelf about the difference between how the world sees books about love that are written by men and women.
Emily will talk at Ashburton Library as part of our Emerging Writers series on 13 October. Book here.