Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Characters Who I'm Surprised How Much I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog and each week provides a book-related topic on which to go all listy.  This weeks topic is to make a list of the Top Ten Characters Who X... with X being a random variable chosen by each individual blogger.

I'm going to call out some characters that surprised me particularly in how much I liked or enjoyed spending time with them.  I'm pretty horribly judgmental of characters and I'm sometimes unsure why some characters speak to me and others don't. Here Goes:

1. Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I'll start with a character that most everyone knows.  She's selfish and thoughtless and criminally self-unaware but I always rooted for her and defended her when my friends blamed all of her and Rhett's problems on her. I think it's her backbone, her screw you attitude to life that makes me smile and like her despite my better judgement.  "There is one thing that I do know and that is that I love you Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we're alike.  Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd , but able to look things in the eye and call them by their right name." Rhett Butler, GWTW Movie.

2. Sand dan Glokta from The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie
These books have a lot of despicable and complex characters but Glokta is one of the most despicable.  He doesn't even have any pretensions of wanting to do anything that would be good for mankind or be a better man.  However, again, I think I was attracted by his survivor attitude and his snarky sense of humor. I kind of even developed a little crush on him...

3. Johnny Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Johnny is the protagonist's father and he does very little but let his family down and drink himself to death. He is handsome, talented and sentimental but he is too weak to deal with the pressures of supporting a family on the brink of poverty.  The reader sees him only through his daughter's eyes and my heart broke along with hers for him and his family.  Smith really made me care for him though he is a destructive presence.

4. Merricat and Constance Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Charming, Creepy, Whimsical and Sinister.  These are the four words I used to describe this novel and which also do a good job of describing the characters.  One of them is likely a murderer and severely unhinged but I really liked them anyway. Way to go Shirley Jackson.

5. Jean from Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Locke is the main character in Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards series and Jean is his sidekick.  Locke is the charismatic and brilliant one.  He's also the one who falls apart in Red Seas Under Red Skies while Jean cowboys up.  I didn't really pay much attention to Jean in book one of the series (The Lies of Locke Lamora) but he became my favorite character in book two.  Yup, I like him more than Locke.  Again its the admiration for a steely spine under adversity and sorrow.

6. Maisie Dobbs from The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
There is nothing I hate more than a Mary Sue character but despite her tendencies that way, I do love Maisie Dobbs.  I'm not sure I can even explain it.  Maybe it's because she keeps herself pretty isolated and can be kinda of a pushy bitch which I think pulls her out of the Mary Sue realm.  Also a survivor.

7. Dexter from Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Umm...He's a serial killer but I had no problem feeling connected and sympathetic to him as a character.  Way to walk that line Jeff Lindsay!

8. John Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
He's a Master, an exploiter of workers and children and he's got a bad temper!  But Man is he dreamy.  I don't know how much of this might be being influenced by Richard Armitage in the BBC Mini-series, probably a good bit but he's easy to get behind in the book too despite some pretty off-putting behavior.

9. Mildred Lathbury from Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Mildred is a Vicar's daughter, devoted to doing good works at the church and taking care of all those around her.  In other words, we are nothing alike but I felt such an affinity and admiration for her.  I think what makes me like her so much is her sense of humor and once again her ability to survive even when life is a little bleak. 

10. Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Don't get me wrong.  I don't really like Willoughby but I do feel kind of sorry for him in the end as it is clear he truly did love Marianne. I probably would like him more if his only bad deed was being weak and marrying for money but there's the thorny issue of getting a girl pregnant and then abandoning her.  I do feel like Austen was a little torn about he and Marianne's relationship.  Is anybody truly happy she ends up with Colonel Brandon?

That's it for now.  I think I've learned that I really admire characters who are exceptionally good at withstanding hardship.  Interesting and not surprising. Do you have any characters who you are surprised you like so much? What is it about them that you think that you like?

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