The irrepressible Susan Kicklighter has tagged me in the 10 Favorite Characters meme. This meme asks authors to list their ten favorite literary characters… and to tag ten more authors afterward.
This meme was surprisingly difficult for me. I have no trouble rattling off ten books that have meant the most to me, but characters are a different thing entirely. My favorite book, for example, is Howard’s End by E. M. Forster, but I honestly can’t name a single character in it to whom I feel a particular affinity or affection. Crumbs.
So after a lot of thought–by which I mean fifteen minutes and an extra gin and tonic–here are my ten favorite literary characters that I did not create. Because Alexander Smith is my favorite, but he doesn’t count.
Mr. Venus, The Articulator–Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Mr. Venus is the only character who sprang to my mind immediately and without effort. I love this character. I don’t know why. His hangdog earnestness, his change of heart, his frankness and fascination about human anatomy… it all hits me in exactly the right way. I adore Mr. Venus. Let me share my favorite quotation of his:
Mr Wegg, if you was brought here loose in a bag to be articulated, I’d name your smallest bones blindfold equally with your largest, as fast as I could pick ’em out, and I’d sort ’em all, and sort your wertebrae, in a manner that would equally surprise and charm you.
Tyrion Lannister–A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
Who doesn’t love Tyrion Lannister? He’s the universal hero, and Peter Dinklage has made him ten times more adorable. I’m only sorry that GRRM doesn’t have the fire to write him at his best, anymore. (Or do you, George? I’m waiting for book 6…)
Beorn–The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein (props to Radagast)
I can’t say that Beorn has many distinctions as a character, other than having a comfortable house, women on call, and turning into a bear at will. Okay, maybe if you’ve read my books you understand exactly why I feel all warm and squishy when I get to his part in The Hobbit. I also want to mention that I had the hots for Radagast the Brown before Peter Jackson turned him into a clown. Bad job, Peter. Bad job.
Neville Longbottom–Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
I was a Neville girl from the beginning. I am so happy that J. K. Rowling gave him the credit he deserves. There is a school of thought which holds that Neville is the actual hero of the Harry Potter books, and I am perfectly content to let that school makes its arguments.
Serena Blandish–A Lady of Quality by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wait. You haven’t heard of this book? It was the second best-selling book of 1896. It is by The Secret Garden and A Little Princess author Frances Hodgson Burnett. It turns Victorian tropes on their heads. The heroine is a badass. She does everything wrong: fornication. Marrying for money. Murder. And she is perfect. READ THIS BOOK ALREADY.
Colonel Brandon–Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I just… I just… holy cow. He fought a duel and it’s NOT a major talking point? Mist me, please. I would like to note that the Emma Thompson movie version of this contains the one and only performance in which I find Alan Rickman attraction. And oh my, is he ever attractive in it.
Anne Elliot–Persuasion by Jane Austen
Anne. Darling Anne. A little wan? A little quiet? A little passive? Yes, but strong in her wan, quiet passivity. I think that Persuasion is the best book Jane Austen wrote, so I am putting Anne here.
Henry Chinaski–Post Office by Charles Bukowski
More conflict. I am in process of reading the Henry Chinaski novels in Henry’s chronology. I hated Ham On Rye with such a passion that I couldn’t put it down–until about halfway through, when I realized that I actually loved it. In Factotum I reveled in Chinaski’s awfulness. In Post Office… his humanity made me cry. For a few select moments, it is one of my favorite novels. So here you are, Henry. For Post Office only. Will you hold up in Women? We’ll find out.
Janie Crawford–Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I always forget about this book, which is completely wrong because it is one of the best books I have ever read. Janie is brave and persevering and… everything. I love Janie.
Claudia MacTeer–The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I pick Claudia only because she is our chaperone in the breathtaking ride that is The Bluest Eye. If she is Toni Morrison’s voice, her observations about Maureen Peele, about Pecola, about Cholly and Pauline, then she is one of my ten favorites. This novel always binds me and takes my breath away. I can’t read it enough times. I love your voice, Claudia MacTeer.