The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper
Female friendships can be messy, can’t they? Especially when the friendship starts when we are young and moves through our maturing years regardless of any defining experience of relationships, wealth, or education. The Geography of Friendship investigates that romantic notion of female friendships having irrevocable bonds that exist throughout hardship and glory days and throws that theory of ‘everlasting’ out. It also examines the concept of history and how the past can and will define our lives.
The Geography of Friendship is Sally Piper’s second novel and she has twisted those ideas of identity into a thrilling story about three women deciding to re-create an experience shared twenty years earlier. In their late teen years, the three friends had set out to complete a five-day hike in an isolated part of Victoria. (Piper is a self-confessed nature lover.) Even before the bush walk begins, they encounter an aggressive and predatory male. The women react differently to this threat and we are given insight into their responses of fear, anger, and dismay. Twenty years later, the women decide to follow their original steps in order to re-shape the original memories. As the walk continues and the pace of the writing becomes quicker, sharper and more loaded, it is clear that these women had put their friendships on hold for good reasons.
Piper has achieved that glorious, decisive moment in any great novel where the reader becomes desperate to know the ending. If you loved Jane Harper’s Force of Nature, prepare yourself for anther page-turning adventure. Piper’s novel is testament to the bonds of complicated friendship and to the sense that the Australian bush is relentless, isolating and utterly terrifying. And, truly, there is no romance in that.