Welcome to Day #6 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.
I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about some of my favorite fictional female characters in literature:
Like most booklovers, I have a collection of favorite fictional characters. They tend to be female, and they’re the ones I identify with the most–for a variety of reasons. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all of their (fictional) actions and opinions, they’re the ones I wish I knew in real life! Here are four of my favorites:
I vividly remember reading Louise Fitshugh’s Harriet The Spy for the first time. I was in second grade, sick at home with the mumps, and my teacher brought me copy from the library to help keep me occupied. It’s one of the first chapter books I ever read on my own, and I was instantly intrigued by Harriet. I have no idea how many times I’ve read Harriet The Spy, but it’s a book that I re-read every year or so, even as an adult. Harriet wasn’t your typical female heroine back in the early 1970s, and she had a life very different from my own. She never wore a dress—she always wore blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. She lived in bustling New York City. Most of the parenting in the family was done by her nanny. She didn’t always behave. And best of all, she had a spy route and a notebook! Reading this novel inspired me to start keeping my own journal—a habit I continued for at least the next twenty years. I also had my own spy route for awhile, although, unlike Harriet, I never actually entered anyone’s home (or used their dumbwaiter!).
The classic novel A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith is the first adult novel I remember reading—I think I was probably in sixth grade when I picked up my mom’s copy. I loved this coming of age novel, and I loved Francie Nolan. The main thing that Francie and I had in common was our love of books, although her day-to-day life was very different from my own—Francie grew up in the tenements of New York City with an alcoholic father who died young, and I remember being so fascinated with this account of one family’s life in the early 20th century. I also remember seeing the movie version of this book a few years after I read it and being so disappointed that the actress who played Francie just didn’t match up with the pictures I had inside my head!
Nell St. John is the main character in a now out-of-print book by Nancy Thayer called (oddly enough) Nell. I loved this book when it was first published in the late 1980s, and I still love it today. Nell is a divorced woman raising her kids near Nantucket, coping with everyday life and everyday dramas. She’s fairly unlucky in love, and she doesn’t always make the best decisions when it comes to relationships. From the first time I read this novel, I felt like Nell could be a friend– a good friend. I could picture myself reacting to her situations and problems in similar ways. I wanted to have her over for coffee! But here’s the odd part–I’ve never been divorced, I’ve never had kids, and I’ve never been to Nantucket! But something about this character connected with me on a very deep level, and that connection grows whenever I re-read it every couple of years. That’s great writing.
The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer is one of those books that people seem to either love or hate. Very briefly, it’s the story of Carrie Bell, a young woman who is engaged to her high school sweetheart, and who eventually realizes that although she still cares for her fiancé, she’s suffocating and needs to get out of the relationship. Before she can make any moves to break off the engagement, her fiancé is left paralyzed due to a diving accident. The rest of the book deals with her choices—does she stay, or does she go? Should she think of her fiancé, or of herself? When people read this book, it seems as though they either totally connect with Carrie or they absolutely can’t stand her. I’m in the first category—and it’s because of her flaws that I think I can identify with her so well. I know this character’s actions made me think about how far we should go to be true to ourselves, and how much we owe to the ones we love, or have loved. This is one of my favorite novels, and Carrie is a character who has stuck in my head for many years.
How about you? Which fictional characters are your favorites? Which ones have stayed with you long after you’ve finished their books? Please share!