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Imprint: Magpie

Subject: General Fiction

Girls They Write Songs About

Carlene Bauer


‘The instant feminist classic our generation has been waiting for’ Ada Calhoun, author of Why We Can’t Sleep

A fabulous power ballad to female friendship, Girls They Write Songs About is a thrumming, searching novel about the bonds that shape us more than any love affair

We moved to New York to want undisturbed and unchecked. And what did we want?

Rose and Charlotte arrive in 1990s New York, fresh out of university and fizzing with ambition. When they end up working at the same music magazine, Charlotte – earnest, bookish – is wary of brash, outspoken Rose. But hesitancy soon gives way to a unique friendship that will change both girls forever.

Determined to take advantage of every day in this thrumming, jubilant city, their lives become entirely entwined. Together they find love and lose it, hit their strides and stumble, see each other through marriages, motherhood, divorces, career glories and catastrophes. But what happens when your lives start to fall out of sync? What does it mean to give up on the dreams that held a friendship together?

Fiery, poignant and pulsating with energy, this one-of-a-kind novel is a love letter to the friendships that shape us, and the women who make us who we are. 


  • Publication date: July 7, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861544691
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: July 7, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861544707
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 320


'Excellent – strange and artful, full of texture and feeling – reads like a Sentimental Education for our time.'

Vivian Gornick, author of Unfinished Business

'The instant feminist classic our generation has been waiting for.'

Ada Calhoun, author of Why We Can't Sleep

'Charlotte's narration rings true for the discerning writer and editor she is; the prose is razor-sharp and utterly devoid of clutter... With deftness and candor, Bauer tells a moving and thoughtful story of how desire and ambition change over time and how to make sense of the messiness of carving out a path and life of one's own. A smart and beautifully rendered portrait of two women's lives.'

Kirkus (starred review)

'Finally, a book that stirs up the fire, hilarity, heartache and powerplant energy of female friendships. Remember how it felt to be young and invincible in New York City? Remember the friends who showed up at your gorgeously gritty apartment bearing new and sparkling worlds? Girls They Write Songs About carries the giddy, smart, shouted exuberance of free, young women right up and into the questions that haunt us as we grow: how, oh how, did I get here?'

Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book

'Humour and feminist passion power Girls They Write Songs About. Charlotte, the book's narrator, a 'self-questioning mystic trapped in a late capitalist body,' damaged by her mother's unhappiness, forges a new family of intense female friendships and kinships with beloved dead female authors. A riot grrrl anthem of a novel, one that celebrates female longing, accomplishment and sisterhood while never forgetting the high stakes of our internal struggle to respect ourselves.'

Darcey Steinke, author of Flash Count Diary

Praise for Frances and Bernard:



'The characters' charm and intelligence make them irresistible company.'

Daily Mail

'Bauer captures the style and language of the period with gleeful dexterity… Exquisite.'

Washington Post

'A story of conversion, shattered love and the loss of faith, recalling 20th-century masters like Graham Greene and Walker Percy… Bauer is a distinctive stylist who can write about Simone Weil or Kierkegaard with wit and charm.'

New York Times Book Review

'Warm, intelligent and addictive.'

The Simple Things

Carlene Bauer

Carlene Bauer is the author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl and the novel Frances and Bernard. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of BooksVirginia Quarterly Reviewn+1The New York Times Book Review, and Elle. She lives in Brooklyn.

Author page

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