Thursday, 28 February 2008

Booking through Thursday - Heroine


Who is your favourite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

My intermittent attempts, during my teenage years, to launch my career as a novelist, were always first-person narratives, so I suppose it's not surprising that my thoughts immediately turned to three narrators. They have a good deal in common, including period. The first is Fanny Logan, quiet observer of the comings and goings of the Radlett family in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. From the perspective of middle-age, Fanny relates the story of her cousin Linda's "relentless pursuit" of love, and Polly Montdore's disillusionment with it. The second, who ought to be another cousin of Fanny's, since she has much in common with her, is Amy Savernake, in Joyce Windsor's A Mislaid Magic and After the Unicorn. I suppose Windsor's writing is too really sub-Mitford to be well-known, but I find Amy's "voice" appealing and her comments on her thoroughly eccentric family are not without asperity. Last of the three – perhaps you've guessed by now – is Cassandra Mortmain. As an aspiring writer, she actually sets down on paper her desire to "capture" her family (and the castle, of course), and she's been like a sister ever since I first discovered her in my teens.

Less self-effacing would be Georgette Heyer's eponymous heroine, Frederica. She's witty, efficient, unfazed by irritable cousins and manages the affairs of her orphaned brothers and sisters with humour and commonsense. Of course, I like most of the Heyer heroines: like Austen's, you can imagine settling down with them for afternoon tea and a giggle at the foibles of the world, and Cassandra, Fanny and Amy would fit right in. I'm sure we could budge up on the sofa, too, for Lizzie Bennet, and Flora Poste and...

16 comments:

Table Talk said...

It's year's since I read 'I Captured the Castle'. Thanks for reminding me. I must go back and re-discover it.

BooksPlease said...

I recently re-read I Capture the Castle, so how could I have forgotten to mention Cassandra? I loved this book when I first read it years ago and it's just as good now.

StuckInABook said...

What a wonderful selection! I did think of Fanny, though she didn't make my final three, but forgot about Cassandra and Flora - oh Flora! - brilliant choices.

pussreboots said...

Interesting list. Happy BTT.

Angela Young said...

Flora Poste, of course! And Fanny Logan, also of course! And also Cassandra. But I still love Lizzie the best.

Thomma Lyn said...

I love Lizzie, too! I haven't read the other books you mentioned. But they sound like good ones to check out!

Happy BTT! :)

Chris said...

Great list. Heyer's heroines are just as you say.

Winchester whisperer said...

Jane Eyre, Becky Sharpe, Jo in Little Women (!)

GeraniumCat said...

Thank you everyone for your comments, I had a lovely day thinking about all these wonderful characters and I'm glad you all approved. Jane Eyre and Jo only just missed being on the list (had to stop somewhere), but I've never got on with Becky Sharpe, isn't it funny.

mountainear said...

The first name that sprang to mind was Cassandra Mortmain. I have read 'I Capture the Castle' every year since I was aged 11 I think - and that is a lot of reads. I could read it again tomorrow. (In fact I think I might - it would be better than the vapid characters in Marghanita Laski's The Village', my current book on the go.)

I often wonder what sort of books the adult Cassandra would have written and what sort of woman she would have grown into. Any thoughts?

GeraniumCat said...

M'ear, the second half of your question touches on something I've been thinking about quite a bit recently, so I'll come back to in a proper post (I'll leave on comment for you when I do it!).
While I don't think Cassandra would have written anything like Jacob Wrestling, I think she might have been aware of pushing some of the boundaries, however disparaging she is about herself compared to Thomas. But maybe, like Dodie Smith herself, she might have been interested in writing for children as well as adults?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Echo Flora Poste.

Jill Crewe from the Jill pony books is rather fiesty for a 50s gal.

Oh, and I love Scarlet O'Hara.

Lesley said...

Oh yes- Fanny's an absolute brick!

GeraniumCat said...

I'm glad so many people like Fanny and Flora; I'd completely forgotten about Jill, M&M!

Hannah Velten said...

Just started to read Cassandra's 'voice' again yesterday...second time of reading - I'm writing a novel with a teenage heroine and thought I should look at a superb characterisation to get some tips! On that topic: Have you any other suggestions for me to read, I wonder? I'm looking for, preferably, mid-Victorian teenage narrators...

GeraniumCat said...

Hannah, not the easiest to find, but I've got a couple of ideas. I'll email you later.