Novels About Friendship, Community or Connection

These novels have friendship, community, or connection as a major theme. They will often emphasize the importance of having the support of other people in our lives.

This theme can also be seen in its opposite on the page Loneliness | Isolation | Alienation

For novels with the closely related concept of comradeship, see the page War | Military

Novels About Community, Connection, Togetherness, or Friendship

Ellen Foster | Kaye Gibbons

Ellen remembers her past with her abusive, alcoholic father and overwhelmed mother. She also describes some scenes with her present foster family. Her living arrangements changed several times in a few years.

The Wind in the Willows | Kenneth Grahame

Mole is spring-cleaning when he gets the urge to see the world above him. He meets Water Rat, who explains the River Bank community. They next visit Mr. Toad, who becomes fixated on automobiles. Then Mole goes to the Wild Wood to see Mr. Badger, but he gets lost. Mole’s adventures continue as he interacts with the residents of the River Bank.

“Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit.”

Read “The Wind in the Willows”

Silas Marner | George Eliot

Silas lives in the village of Raveloe, working as a weaver. He had to leave his hometown fifteen years ago after being falsely accused of stealing. He turns his back on people and his faith and becomes a miser. The Cass family, prominent in Raveloe, deals with some scandal, the effect of which eventually reaches Silas.

“But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.”

Read “Silas Marner”

A Passage to India | E. M. Forster

In India during British rule, Dr. Aziz, an Indian man, meets Mrs. Moore and Miss Adela Quested. Aziz invites Mrs. Moore and Adela to visit the Marabar Caves. Aziz and Adela have an awkward moment and she runs off. When Aziz gets back he is arrested.

“’It is easy to sympathize at a distance,’ said an old gentleman with a beard. ‘I value more the kind word that is spoken close to my ear.’”

Read “A Passage to India”

The Chosen | Chaim Potok

During a baseball game Rueven gets hit in the face with the ball and gets glass in his eye. He becomes friends with the boy who accidentally hit him, Danny. Reuven’s father is a scholar of the Talmud who encourages his son to study secular things and analyze them. Danny’s father is a Hasidic rabbi who expects his son to follow in his footsteps, but Danny is interested in psychology.

The Bean Trees | Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor Greer saves some money for a car and leaves her small county in Kentucky. On her trip she takes in an unwanted baby girl. She takes what work she can get. She ends up in Arizona looking for a roommate, who turns out to be Lou Ann, a single mother lacking in self-confidence.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Mark Twain

Young Tom is a troublemaker and has an active imagination. Tom and his friend Huck are in the cemetery one night when they witness Injun Joe stab and kill a man.

Read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”

On the Road | Jack Kerouac

Sal Paradise, a young man working on his first novel, and Dean Moriarty, a charismatic con man who lives in the moment, travel across America seeking pleasures and rebelling against society’s standards.

Howards End | E. M. Forster

Helen Schlegel and Paul Wilcox have a brief engagement. Helen returns to Wickham Place where she lives with her sister Margaret. Paul’s family moves in next door to Helen’s, and Margaret becomes friends with Mrs. Wilcox. She wants to leave her home, Howards End, to Margaret when she dies.

“Only connect!”

Read “Howards End”

The Country of the Pointed Firs | Sarah Orne Jewett

A writer rents a home from Mrs. Todd in a small town on the coast of Maine. Mrs. Todd is an important member of the community, preparing and selling herbal remedies. The writer is told a story by Captain Littlepage, and old seaman, of a shipwreck he experienced. She meets other elderly residents who tell her stories of the past – theirs and the town’s.

“Her hospitality was something exquisite; she had the gift which so many women lack, of being able to make themselves and their houses belong entirely to a guest’s pleasure…”

Read “The Country of the Pointed Firs”

Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh

Charles Ryder meets Sebastian Flyte at Oxford. Sebastian’s family home Brideshead, a mansion, and Charles visits him there. Charles starts painting takes art classes at school. Sebastian starts drinking more and more, worrying his family. Charles is an agnostic; Sebastian’s family is Catholic. The Flyte family members have different views of their religion.

All Quiet on the Western Front | Erich Maria Remarque

Paul joins the army (WW I) along with several of his classmates. He realizes that neither school nor basic training have prepared him for war. The diary-like entries intersperse episodes of mundane life, including his leave, with the horrors of war.

“They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades.”

Read “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Giants in the Earth| O. E. Rolvaag

Per Hansa is leading his family over the Dakota plains. They’ve been separated from their travelling party. They need to get to Spring Creek to register a section of land they can farm. The community deals with all the trials of the plains such as land disputes, losing animals, long journeys for supplies, and the weather, among other things.

Kitchen | Mahoko “Banana” Yoshimoto

Mikage loves kitchens of every type. Her grandmother has died, so she is alone. A man she remembers from the funeral, Yuichi, stops by to invite her to his mother’s for dinner. She loves the house’s kitchen, and is intrigued by the mother, Eriko. They invite her to come live with them.

The Godfather | Mario Puzo

Vito Corleone is the head of America’s most powerful crime family. After he refuses to get involved with drugs, an assassination attempt is made on him. This prompts his youngest son, Michael, who has heretofore stayed out of the family business, to seek revenge.

“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.”

The Sweet Hereafter | Russell Banks

In a small New York town, a bus accident has killed fourteen children. The accident and its after-effects are described by four different narrators – Dolores, the bus driver; Billy, a widower who lost his twins in the accident; Mitchell, a lawyer who starts building a case against the city; and Nichole, a beautiful and smart fourteen-year-old who ends up in a wheelchair.

The Man in the Iron Mask | Alexandre Dumas

Louis XIV is the king of France. Aramis, a bishop, seeks to increase his influence, including participating in a plot to remove Louis XIV and replace him with his imprisoned twin brother. Fouquet and Colbert, financial ministers in service to the king, maneuver to secure their positions. Aramis and his three friends – Athos, Porthos, and d’Artagnan – have a history of adventures and continue in their loyalty to each other.

Read “The Man in the Iron Mask”

Bless the Beasts and Children | Glendon Swarthout

John Cotton is a teenage counselor at the Box Canyon Boys Camp. He has a dream where he and his charges, as buffalos, are taken into a corral and slaughtered. His group of boys are known as the “Bedwetters”, the ones who were left over after the camp members formed groups. The boys were traumatized by something earlier that day that they won’t discuss. Cotton and his boys decide to leave the camp and set out on a quest to help right the wrong that they witnessed.

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