Once again, I’m participating in Armchair BEA this week and today’s topic is all about the characters in books.
“It’s time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now’s your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who’s your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?”
There is not one specific characteristic or component of a character that “does it” for me. I am a complex woman and with that have many sides to me. So to avoid sounds evasive, I can identify with most of the female characters I meet. What causes a book to fall flat for me is the story, the tone, my mood-which is another topic altogether.
Let me explain my conundrum.
The characters that come to the top of my head that explain what I’m getting at is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which I read recently. There are two sisters Isabelle and Vianne. One is outspoken, the other quiet. And guess what, I identified with both. Another favorite character that has both dualities is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince.
My go to characters are strong women, obstinate women, women who fight for their rights, have a voice and opinion. Feisty and resilient. The Isabelles:
Elizabeth Bennett, Florence Gordon, Nell Stone (Euphoria), Ifemelu (Americanah), Lily Kintner (The Kind Worth Killing), Amazing Amy (Gone Girl), Mireille Duval (An Untamed State), Chloe (The Shore)…to name a few
But on the other side of that woman are the quiet types, steady, stealthy and that calm doesn’t mean they are meek or a doormat. The internal battle is where most of the fighting occurs. Knowing when to use their voice is well planned out. The Viannes:
Nella Oortman (The Miniaturist), Anna Benz (Hausfrau), Marie-Laure (All the Light We Cannot See), Joan Castleman (The Wife), “the wife” (Dept. of Speculation), Peggy Hillcoat (Our Endless Numbered Days). I think even Amazing Amy can fall into this category as well. Maybe that’s what makes her so unforgettable!
I used all women characters here but I feel that way for all of the books I read. The characters have to have some depth, some heft to them for me to get on board. Sure I like stylistic elements in writing and the prose has to sweep me off my feet but it’s ultimately the characters, their actions, their words and voice (loud or quiet) I remember most.
“To withhold words is power. But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power.” ~Terry Tempest Williams When Women Were Birds