Wednesday, 3 August 2011

We Can be Heroes Blog Tour - Catherine Bruton picks her Top Ten Female Characters in Books.

eToday I have a great guest post to share with you as part of the We Can be Heroes blog tour.  Author Catherine Bruton has written a wonderful post detailing her top ten female characters in books.  I really enjoyed reading this post. As we all know, I have a trillion favourite book boys, but  and I often feel that my favourite female characters are totally outnumbered! Catherine has made some great choices here.  If you haven't yet heard all about We Can be Heroes, take a look at the synopsis below.

I'll be reviewing We Can be Heroes  next week, so make sure you stop back for that!

We Can Be Heroes by Catherine Bruton
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd.
Release date: August 1st 2011

 Moving. Funny. Explosive. And most of all, unexpected...As powerful as Frank Cottrell Boyce's Millions. My dad was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York. But the stuff in this book isn't about that. It's about the summer my mum went away. The summer that me and Jed and Priti tried to catch a suicide bomber and prevent an honour killing. There's stuff about how we built a tree house and joined the bomb squad; how I found my dad and Jed lost his; and how we both lost our mums then found them again. So it's not really about 9/11 but, then again, none of those things would have happened if it hadn't been for that day. So I guess it's all back to front, sort of...

Catherine Bruton picks her Top Ten Female Characters in Books

 ‘The pen has been in their hands...Men have had every advantage in telling their own story.’ That’s what one of my favourite female characters, Anne Elliott, says in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. Basically she reckons that because most writers were male, girls just didn’t get very well represented in literature.

It’s an interesting idea. But does that mean that only female writers can create fabulous female characters?  And is there really a dearth of great ladies in literature? Surely not. But when I sat down to think of my ten fave female book characters I admit I struggled at first.  Because some of the books I love most – ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ – have pretty rubbish female characters in them, to be honest.  So I  sent out an SOS for inspiration on Twitter and pretty soon I was up to my ears in great  and glorious literary gals. From heroines, to villainesses, naughty girls, madwomen and inspirational females - here’s my top ten. And, I’m pleased to be able to inform Miss Anne Elliott  that  they are  only the tip of the fictional  female ice-berg!

I love Scout in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. The main character in my novel ‘We Can be Heroes’ is very much inspired by  Scout and I’ve taught  and known lots of little girls  just like her who are ferociously intelligent and imaginative but sometimes miss the blindingly obvious!   They are my favourite kind of girls -  big hearts, big mouths,  big brains and magnets for mischief.

 For similar reasons, I also love My Naughty Little Sister and Penny Dreadful the eponymous heroines  created by  Dorothy Edwards  and Joanna Nadin, cos you’ve got to love a naughty girl, haven’t you? Joanna Nadin is a friend of mine and so I happen to know that some of Penny Dreadful’s antics are inspired by the real life exploits of her daughter  who is great pals with my own little girl.  In fact, my Elsie Maud will be  making a guest appearance as Penny’s Nemesis in ‘PD – No. 3’which comes out next year,  so am I allowed to put her down as one of my faves too, because Elsie won’t forgive me if I don’t? 

Sadly, I was a boringly well behaved  girl  in my own youth (apart from the locking the teacher in the cupboard incident which I referred to in a previous blog!) So, I also love Hermione Granger   because I was a lot like Hermione at school (apart from the magical bits, alas!) –  and because she manages to make bookish blue-stockingness sexy and cool. Go, Hermione!

 Anyone who has ever suffered the pangs of unrequited love  will share my love of  Viola from ‘Twelfth Night.’ Just read that bit about pining in  ‘green and yellow melancholy’ and sitting  ‘like patience on a monument smiling at grief’ –  as usual, the bard  gets it spot on! AND she gets her man in the end which will give you hope if you are pining away for love of an unattainable lad – or lass!  I love Anne Elliott for very similar reasons – and  Molly Gibson from Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Wives and Daughters’ both of whom have happy endings that make me melt every time.  Seriously, check them out, oh lovesick ones!

Back to the bad girls, I have a sneaking fondness for Victoria from the ‘Twilight’ books – I guess cos Bella Swann irritates me so much that I too would gladly tear her limb from limb! Go Vicky, I say, and then R-Patz can be mine and mine alone (yes,  I’m too old for him but in this particular fantasy I’ve lost twenty years and 10lbs and we make the perfect couple)!

I’ve always  been fond of a bit of madness so I love Antoinette Cosway from ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’. She is Bertha Rochester, the madwoman in the attic from ‘Jane Eyre’ but re-imagined by the incredible Jean Rhys who herself came from the Caribbean and suffered from mental illness.  Antoinette’s  psychological bullying at the hands of Rochester and slow descent into madness is beautifully and heart-breakingly evoked against a backdrop of simmering racial tensions, voodoo and more sexual imagery than you can shake a stick at (we English teachers love a bit of sexual imagery – just ask my Year 11s who think I am obsessed)! 

And while we’re on the mad ladies theme, I LOVE Blanche Dubois from ‘A Streetcar  Named Desire’  by Tennessee Williams and the narrator from Sylvia Plath’s quasi autobiographical (virtually completely autobiographical?)  ‘The Bell Jar’. Blanche’s sense that fantasy is so much more beautiful than crude reality (‘I don’t want realism ... I want magic... Put the paper lantern over the light ...put on the colours of butterfly wings and make a little temporary magic’) I find devastating and poignant and actually very convincing  – possibly I should be worried about this!

Oh, no but that’s ten already (actually eleven if you count Anne Elliot – and I do!)  and I’ve hardly got started. I mean there’s The Wife of Bath whose advice on relationships (let women be in charge and everyone is happy) is as sound as any I’ve ever come across; and Lady Macbeth; and Lyra from ‘Northern Lights’; and Anne of Green Gables;  and Dorothea from ‘Middlemarch’  - yes, please can I have her -  I love Dorothea;  and Anita from ‘Anita and Me’ and ... and... and ...

So the pen may have been in men’s hands  in Austen’s day but  it seems to me that nowadays  novelists have  got his-and-hers iPads and  the list of luscious literary ladies just goes on and on. So,  I’d love to hear  who your fave fictional females are and why!

Some of the books containing Catherine's favourite female characters

Find out more about Catherine and We Can Be Heroes on the website:

The We Can Be Heroes blog tour continues tomorrow at Readaraptor!


  1. Thanks for sharing this list! I love that she included Scout, who happens to be my favorite literary character...I named my dog after her! I love that the main character in her novel was inspired by Scout. I'll have to add this one to my TBR list.

  2. Pretty much modelled my entire character on female literary figures:

    Miss Havisham- brilliant steadfastness and icy rudeness
    Elizabeth Bennett- just far funnier than her drippy sisters
    Flora Poste-it's always good to be convinced of your own 'rightness'
    Maisie- because I always knew more than the grown-ups



  3. My favorite female character has been Meg from A Wrinkle In Time. I have loved her since I was in grade school. She is insanely smart, unapologetic about it and would do anything for the people she cares about. After I read the book for the first time I wanted to be like her and even started a science and math journal.
    For solely kick-ass purposes, I adore Mac from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. I am in awe of how fierce she is.

  4. Awesome list! Scout would definitely be in my top 10. (As would Flora Poste; great comment Lucy!)

    Hadn't heard of We Can Be Heroes before but it looks awesome, will definitely be trying to check it out.

  5. I used to be completely obsessed with Lyra when I was younger, oh my goodness ... she's just the epitome of a strong female character ... and I LOVE how much she grows by the end of the series (although it's a totally bittersweet ending *cries*).

    Also, Hermione Granger is awesome!! :D

  6. This sounds like a great book! I love books based on real evets.

  7. So many great characters mentioned. Wonderful guest post :)

  8. great post! I have to admit though... I have no idea who Victoris is in Twilight... or who Scout is... I Must read that though cos I loved the main character that Catherine refers to in her book! :D
    Thanks for pointing to my blog stop too! :D

  9. is this a kids' book? it happened to notice it today in a bookshop and i didn't buy it because i wasn't sure about that..seems pretty nice though!:)

  10. It's age 11+

    You can read my review of the book here:

    and maybe see if it's for you! :)


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