I looked at this at Deborah's, and as it was about books, I went, "I have to do it!"
Here's what she says about it:
The idea is that without thinking about it too much, and within the space of 15 minutes, you name 15 books that will always stay with you.
I confess I couldn't do it in 15 minutes: I had to think about books I love rather than just ones I've read recently, which would otherwise be at the top of my mind. 11 out of 15 authors are female: all except three have female protagonists.
So here are mine:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Of course. It was the first "real grown-up" novel I ever read, and - like every other teenage girl - fell in love with Mr Darcy. But as time passed and I reread it over and over again, I grew to like opinionated, spunky Elizabeth much more than the relatively colourless Darcy.
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: There is so much to like about this book, but that bit where Scarlett says, "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again" (quoted from memory) is probably the best. For once a heroine who didn't wait for a man to rescue her, but went out and created the life she wanted. The funny part was I didn't really like her - she was too self-absorbed, too petty. But I sure admired her, and by the end of the book (or rather around where I came across that quote above) I realised that she really was a heroine.
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Atticus Finch seemed like the perfect man to me, and I would have married him, old as he was, and teenager as I was when I read it. The character of Scout was outstanding though: and again it didn't hurt that she was a fiery little girl who gets into fights and hates wearing dresses.
- The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood: This is one of only three books on this list that I've read just once; having become acquainted with it only last year. But it's about time to reread it, I think. I love how the story is told: there's a story in a story in a story. I love the vulnerability and courage of the heroine, I love the slow exploration of the characters.
- Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: This is my favourite Hardy book, both because it is less gloomy than any of the others, but also because the heroine is smart and bold inspite of being pretty and frivolous.
- Absent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott: Mary Westmacott is actually the pen name under which Agatha Christie wrote her six non-crime novels. I wish she had written many more: I like them even better than many of her detective novels. This novel is about a middle-aged woman who is travelling through the desert and has to spend a couple of days alone in a hotel in the desert because of some transport breakdown. With nothing to do, the protagonist spends time thinking about the past, and discovers a great many things about her own life. You could call it a psychological thriller! And apparently Christie wrote this book in three days flat.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Heathcliff must be one of the most interesting and mysterious characters ever created. His was a love that was all-encompassing: yet he was such an unsavoury character. But I love this book because of the two Catherines: the mother who marries a man she does not love, and the daughter who pays the price for her mother's mistakes.
- Emma by Jane Austen: Another favourite by Austen, and sometimes I think I like it better than any of the others. A heroine who is smart, almost arrogant, yet sport enough to laugh at her mistakes: Emma is definitely a favourite fictional character.
- The Colour Purple by Alice Walker: I wrote about this one recently, so here's a link.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: The first time I read the book, I found it revolting. I suppose I was too young then to appreciate the ending. Then I read it again. And again. And still wonder at the line "Rules about who should be loved. And how much." (Or something. I paraphrase from memory.)
- The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: This is my favourite Dickens book, and I remember developing a crush on Sidney Carton when I first read it. Madame Defarge was a fearsome villain, lovingly sketched.
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Another one I read not so long ago. If you haven't got hold of it yet, do.
- Vanity Fair by W.M. Thackeray: "A novel without a hero", the cover says. For a long time, I considered this meant that the novel was about the two women in the story, Becky Sharp and Amelia - who was so wishy-washy that I don't remember her last name, before or after she married the handsome young idiot. But apparently the phrase referred to the fact that there were no upstanding moral characters in the story: every human is ultimately revealed as petty and lacking, even the stalwart Dobbin. The complex characters - and the ambiguous ending - made the story curiously lifelike.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I've already written about this one here.
- Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse: My favourite Wodehouse book: a romance as opposed to the comic stuff he is so famous for. Jill was a perfect heroine: pretty, smart and courageous. But I loved Wally, who is not only smart and successful but also makes Jill laugh and is a great friend, and he stays by Jill's side until she is ready to love him in return.
- Death by Chick Lit by Lynn Harris: I had to put this one in: a very funny book set in contemporary New York about a female author who becomes involved in a series of murders of other "chick lit" authors.
Here: a post on fictional characters I love, many of them from the same books as above.