Accepted wisdom holds that women are too competitive to be friends, that husbands satisfy all emotional needs, that close friendships pass with girlhood. Women themselves know otherwise, suggest Block, a psychologist and author of Friendship, and Greenberg, a freelance writer. For many, friendships with other women provide vital psychological sustenance. Such friendships may indeed be at a more developed level than those among men, though little has been written of the female world in which common bonds of home and children have traditionally brought women together. But now the changing dimension of women's lives has put new strains on old bonds, note the authors: business rules make friendships more tenuous, the need for mentors and for male friendship more urgent, the desire for friendship in marriage insistent. Black and Greenberg cover these areas in an evenhanded, perceptive way, using case histories and interviews to show that ``women are . . . bonding around their changing needs and are cultivating lasting friendships that transcend any one issue.'' November
Block and Greenberg explore the nature of women's friendships. They show how historically women's friendships have been viewed as trivial and on the whole inferior to men's. In contrast, research shows that women have more satisfying relationships than their male counterparts. Women's capacity to be open with one another and to reveal their weaknesses facilitates the development of intimacy and allows them to experience much support and comfort from one another throughout their lives. The authors discuss various types of women's friendships, how they develop, and how they are affected by societal values. Most women will find the book expresses things they already know, but may nevertheless find it informative and helpful. The discussion of the mentor-protegee relationship is especially interesting. Bonnie Hoffman, A.C.S.W., North Fork Counseling Service, Mattituck, N.Y.