So, it is no real secret that I haven’t been following the Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday Topics
of late. Lots of reasons for this – I have my own ideas, their picks tend to have a heavy Young Adult focus, etc, etc. Anyway, I worked out that it’s been about a year since I did my first Top Ten Tuesday
and then coincidentally the category for this week was a re-run of Top Ten Fictional Heroines
which was my very, very first one. I have thought of so many over the last year that I forgot to include the first time and then I read How to be a Heroine
which got me thinking about it even more and so I decided to do my follow-up piece, here are another ten fictional heroines who have inspired over the years.
Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
You don’t have to be an adult to be a heroine, Scout Finch proves that. Eight years old and already she sees to the truth of her flawed home town. She learns the difference between physical and moral courage and her father’s rejection of the former in favour of the latter. Scout Finch learns some uncomfortable lessons about the adults around her but her words are full of grace and as she speaks with her adult’s hindsight, we can tell that she has grown into a fine woman. I look forward to Go Set A Watchman.
Never judge a book by its television adaptation. Actually the BBC version wasn’t all that bad, once you’d switched the subtitles on. Mary Yellan is a glorious heroine – she is never mealy-mouthed but she has a keen sense of what is right, what is wrong and what she is going to do about her situation. Jamaica Inn is not a happy book but Mary is not the type of girl to just sit around and complain about things – this is a woman ready to take control.
All three Fossil sisters, Ballet Shoes
I never could pick my favourite Fossil sister – I don’t actually know how they got left off my last list of heroines. I mean, they’re fantastic sisters to each other despite the lack of biological link (always over-rated when it comes to building a family), they’re fantastically self-sufficient and they are each wonderful in their own way. Pauline learns about how not to be a diva and to behave with graciousness, Petrova learns to love herself despite her lack of dramatic ability and Posy is committed and determined to achieving her ambitions. I loved them all – I wanted to be Posy when I was little but then Petrova was like me in that she wasn’t that fussed on ballet either but then Pauline was the one with the glamour. I am a huge fan of Noel Streatfeild and these are the girls who started it.
I have mentioned more than once that I was a hideously awkward teenager and indeed this carried on well into my twenties. I love Rose because her struggle to accept herself is one that I recognise and her triumph is the ability to shout out loud that she likes being female. It may sound silly but Rose’s story is one that has always stuck in my mind – I first read her aged eleven and it was so nice to know that self-acceptance was out there somewhere.
Oh Katherine Swynford. I sometimes feel that she is Girl with her Head in a Book‘s guardian angel – she is certainly responsible for a hefty proportion of the site traffic. Even if this were not the case though her story is incredible. I am really not great with romances, I have never read a Mills and Boon novel in my life and Cecilia Ahern books made me want to become a copy-editor because the writing was so wincingly awful. Katherine Swynford’s story is the one exception which is particularly impressive given that it involves adultery, a plot factor that I always tend to find particularly offensive. While Anya Seton’s book first ignited my interest, it was Alison Weir’s book that made Katherine seem truly impressive. She is like the antithesis of the Wicked Stepmother, mothering her own children and her Lancaster borrowed ones with equal affection – her love story with John of Gaunt is incredible and the dynasty she inadvertently founded continues to this day, she was an amazing woman and her story well deserves to be celebrated.
Paige Mahoney represents a type of heroine who has become very common – there’s Katniss from The Hunger Games
, that girl played by Shailene Woodley in Divergent
, Bella from Twilight
etc. They are so modest, so self-effacing and yet somehow or other they are also like so Awesome. Yet while Katniss and Bella irritate like a hard to reach itch, Paige is actually all right – she is an Awesome Heroine who is genuinely awesome. She is a dreamwalker from the Seven Seals, she has powers and she has courage and she fights for what is right and so far she has not got caught in any love triangles. I am really looking forward to getting my hands on The Mime Order
I read Dragonsbane when I was ten and on the Library Quiz team for my class. We had to read Matt’s Million as well as this one and then answer questions on them against another side – we lost out at the quarter finals but the having a go was genuinely great fun (normally this is gracious losership but in this case it really was true!). I absolutely loved Dragonsbane‘s heroine – I had refused to wear dresses or skirts since the age of five, so Cimorene really was my kind of princess. She taught herself sword-play, cooking, library-keeping and when she decided that she did not want to marry the prince, she went off to work for a dragon. She is not a prisoner but rather Kazul’s housekeeper, the two of them have a very friendly relationship and I loved that the dragon eventually served as bridesmaid once Cimorene had met someone who she actually did feel like settling down with. Patricia Wrede’s series is full of brilliant touches, there’s the Wicked Stepmother’s Drinking, Dancing and Debating Club (with the Men’s Auxiliary for Wicked Uncles), there’s the fact that dragons are allergic to wizards but best of all is Cimorene herself. When threatened with death by a genie who allows her to pick her preferred method of death, Cimorene promptly picks ‘old age’ and manages to talk her way out of it. She is a princess who Gets Stuff Done.
Lucy Pevensie, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Ah Miss Lucy, if you hadn’t been messing around with the wardrobe, none of this would have happened. I found the films to be quite disappointing but I have always loved Lucy. As an adult, I cringe slightly at C.S. Lewis’ attitudes towards women – he wasn’t so much misogynistic as he was ill-informed and I do wish that The Last Battle had happened differently. Still, the character of Lucy Pevensie made me think about how important it is to stick to what you believe in – no matter who was trying to convince her otherwise, Lucy always had faith in Narnia, in Aslan, in happy endings. I have always loved her for it.
Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web
You don’t have to be human to be a heroine. Charlotte is amazing – I first read this as a five year-old with my mother. I didn’t cry at the ending but I remember my nose feeling fuzzy. Not only did Charlotte improve my feelings towards spiders but again, she is someone who stood up for her friends and proved just what someone very small can achieve. Charlotte’s Web is one of the most very beautiful books of my childhood and at its core is the spider who has a heart the size of an elephant.
This is another heroine I can’t quite believe I forgot the first time around. Marian is one of my very favourite fictional characters but I wish to goodness that she could have married Walter rather than Laura. Marian is clever, witty, kind-hearted and brave. Laura is a wind-tunnel with the will of a wet paper bag. Marian’s courage and desire to protect her sister make her a far more active character than your average Victorian female in fiction – her heart is true and it is she who gives life to the novel, it is only when we realise that Marian is incapacitated that the danger sets in. Marian is the heroine who keeps things going.
Forgetting to include Flora Poste in my previous list of favourite fictional heroines is just an error – I don’t know how it happened. Flora Poste is very probably my favourite fictional heroine of all time, I would like to be her, I think she’s brilliant. People may mock her for her conservative opinions, they may deride her as anti-feminist because her story is completed by Getting the Guy but they couldn’t be more wrong. Flora could have got the guy at the beginning of the book but she didn’t want to, she wanted to prove that she could make it on her own. And she did. She sorted out the entire of Cold Comfort Farm and beyond and then when she was good and ready and her work complete, she called Charles up and declared herself ready to wed. That’s choice, good and proper. Flora is a heroine who does things on her own terms … and everyone else also has to fall in and do so, very fine terms they are too.
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