I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass – Maya Angelou.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!
Today is the day where we globally celebrate women, in one go. To be honest, a lot of women – myself included – celebrate women 365 days a year, 366 on a Leap Year. I’m using the official day as an excuse to write about some of my favourite women from the books I have read over the years. The majority of the books I read have strong female protagonists; they are a big reason why I read these books as I relate to the characters, their feelings and their actions much more than I do some male characters. I love reading about women in all kinds of situations, from heroines like Katniss Everdeen and Audrey Rose Wadsworth, to royalty such as real duchesses from our past and fantasy queens. Strong female characters in books are so important for young girls growing up, just as the representation of women in adult fiction is crucial for every reader across the board, especially in the likes of crime fiction and adult fantasy. If all readers see the positive depiction of women in their everyday reading, people are more likely to relay these social interactions in real life.
Although I am certain there are thousands more women in books who are courageous, strong, independent and role models for the young and old, the following females are the ones who stand out on my personal bookshelf. I wanted to have a mix of genres, not only to show my variety of reading but to illustrate that strong women aren’t always the protagonist of the story. Without babbling on any further, these are some of my favourites.
Mary Elizabeth Braddon was one of the first authors to create sensational fiction. She helped launch the strand of female writing which feminists refer to, even today. Lady Audley, as the protagonist, is a fabulous woman, if a little mad. She is, however, intelligent, and a woman who is a murderer, but you can’t help but see her as a fierce woman, too. Lady Audley is the beginning of fighting out against a world of patriarchy, where she takes things into her own hands, and yes, goes well overboard in getting her own way, but doing something out of the ordinary is how to get noticed for something more than beauty and status, at that time.
Kettricken is by no means a protagonist in The Farseer Trilogy, but she is exceptional in her role within the Six Duchies and as the leader of her people. She is the crux that keeps Prince Verity living, despite the freezing cold in the North. Her strength carries her people through war, just as it carries Fitz and the small crew she forms through a quest like no other. It is Kettricken who decides when to pause and when to keep moving; she is the one who is the true ruler of the Six Duchies despite having to go into hiding in her own lands. It is her who keeps her emotion in check during the difficult times of her marriage and miscarriage, always putting the sorrows of the kingdom before her own. She is a true queen in every sense of the word.
She is the pillar of heroines when it comes to YA literature, and it is no surprise. She volunteers to go into a bloodbath aka The Hunger Games in order to save her little sister without hesitation. Katniss is a survivor; she is in no way a malicious killer who strives to be the best in the country. She does what is necessary, making unlikely friends along the way. Her kindness to Rue is what makes her special in this dystopian world; she protects her like her own when she “should be” killing her in order to survive. She strives for a better world for herself and people like her, battling enemies as well as her own demons.
As a victim of rape, she does not see herself as a victim. She returns to her attacker and gets her own back, in a very detailed manner. She is her unique self, never fitting in with the crowd and always staying one step ahead of the game. Her intelligence is phenomenal, especially in computer science. Her hacking techniques are out of this world and she is one woman you would never want to be on the wrong side of. Despite being told not to get involved in the murders that plague her home, she insists on leading her own investigation, wanting to get justice for the lost girls in a patriarchal society where the police doesn’t seem to care.
It was a toss up between Inej Ghafa and Nina Zenik to talk about from the Six of Crows. Inej was the first choice because she has physical strength in a book full of action. However, I wanted to talk about Nina because she remains true to herself, no matter the cost. She gorges on cakes, wears anything she thinks is beautiful and is the most positive character in the crew. Nothing phases her, whilst she goes above and beyond for her friends as well as those who see her as the enemy.
AUDREY ROSE WADSWORTH
Audrey Rose is my latest favourite on my bookshelf. As the protagonist of Stalking Jack The Ripper, she is well ahead of her time. Born into the nineteenth century, she believes women can do whatever they want; Audrey Rose certainly does. She defies the societal norms by getting elbow deep into bodies and blood, wanting to follow hooded murderers deep into the night and openly fancying somebody of the opposite sex without courting them in the official manner. She is headstrong and stubborn, putting her own needs before any man’s. Adventure is in her nature, as is striving for the best life for herself.
I’d love to know who your favourite women are from your bookshelf. Are they from classics such as Little Women and Jane Eyre, or are they your favourite YA heroine, or someone in between? Let’s celebrate the women born from imagination, as well as those who are very much real heroes.
Love, Faye xo