Thursday at Kepler's: Local writers collaborate on 'A History of Female Friendship'


By Kate Daly | Special to the Almanac

Keeping it local, Woodside writer Theresa Donovan Brown and co-author Marilyn Yalom of Palo Alto are launching their first collaborative book at Kepler's Books on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m.

Their 400-page paperback, "The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship," is published by Harper Perennial and selling for $15.99.

The free event at Kepler's, 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, is the first stop on their book tour, which will also take them to Southern California and New York.

Friends for 20 years, the authors have not collaborated before. "What an exercise it was to write about friendship with a dear friend," Ms. Brown says.

They spent two years researching and writing, trading off chapters, and co-writing others, bringing different perspectives to what Ms. Brown describes as "an historical look at a huge subject over a huge swath of time [2,500 years."

She worked in the financial world after earning her MBA, raised a family and writes both fiction and nonfiction, recently publishing a mystery novel, "The Old Inn at Punta de Sangre."

A generation older, Ms. Yalom is also a family woman. She was a French professor at Stanford and is now a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at the university. Her previous books include "How the French Invented Love" and "A History of the Wife."

The co-authors trace friendships from ancient Greece through modern times, highlighting social mores and trends from medieval nuns to Eleanor Roosevelt's inner circle and up to BFF's (best friends forever) today.

Ms. Brown says one of her favorite chapters is "Quilt, Pray, Club" because it's about a pivotal period when American women started to gather outside the home. With "the club movement, and once women started writing letters back and forth, there was no stopping them," she says.

She feels that's when female friendship really flourished and helped spur on social changes such as abolition, temperance and suffrage.

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