Friendship: Real, Virtual And Fictional

Women's friendships, and why they do and don't endure, is a subject that I find fascinating.

So it's no wonder that my new novel Reunion is the story of three old friends approaching midlife, who get together for a few days at a beach house in East Hampton, New York, to relax and bond. During their brief vacation, each of the women faces a personal crisis, set in motion by past secrets and choices, which threaten their decades-long friendship.

My previous novel, a mystery called My Ex-Best Friend, also deals with similar themes of friendship, secrets and betrayals.

The reason I'm drawn to writing about women's friendships is that my close relationships with my own friends are such an integral part of my life. A handful of my cherished female friendships pre-date my marriage of 31 years, and the birth of my two daughters. In fact, the idea for Reunion was sparked after spending a summer evening in New York City a few years ago with my two best friends from high school, and three of our adult children. While Reunion is not autobiographical, some of the settings and traits of the characters are lightly drawn from real life, although exaggerated for dramatic effect.

With the release of my book, I've been contemplating the nature of friendship: real, virtual and imaginary. 2016-06-30-1467247094-3674608-BethBrophy_Reunion_BookJacket_frontsmallonly.jpg

I've always preferred to conduct my friendships off-line, in the real world. Until very recently, I resisted joining Facebook because the act of posting a note or photo or sharing information in a public forum seemed to have little in common with actual friendships -- you know, where you talk to friends face-to-face, read facial cues and interpret body language. Or where you share an experience together, such as taking a walk, or eating a meal, or seeing a movie. All these experiences seem far more satisfying, and intimate, than posting a message that hundreds of others can read. Even the word "friend" has been corrupted by Facebook, where the term connotes how many people can receive your feed, not who will show up for you in a crisis or just for the pleasure of your company.

Yet to promote my book about fictional friendships I've been harnessing all of the social media tools at my disposal -- Facebook, blogs, online book clubs, you name it. Anything to get the word out about my book. The irony of using virtual "friends" to help advance my own personal agenda is not lost on me.

And even a skeptic like me has to admit there's been an upside to all this social media. It's been fun to hear from people in my "friend" group. I like when friends like my blog post or tell me they enjoyed my book. And pushing a computer key to "like" me on Facebook is far more efficient than sending me an email or picking up the phone. And while Facebook has not turned into the colossal time sink that I feared, I find myself scrolling through my feed every morning, and sometimes also every evening, to see who has posted what.

So I'm still confused about what being a friend really means in our current world of social media. But I have a book to sell, so count me in. Or better yet, friend me.