Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten on Tuesday: Ten Characters I Love on the Page

Many thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for these prompts and coordinating this meme! Go check out what other bloggers have posted -- it's a great way to find new reads and new writers to follow.

This week's prompt is to complete the sentence, Top Ten Characters Who ____. This made me think about characters I love on the page, but don't really want to meet, or get to know in real life. Some of the most vivid and interesting characters to read about are not the sort of folks you want to rub shoulders with in the day-to-day world. In person I tend to gravitate to nice people, thoughtful and empathetic people (with suitably scathing senses of humor), but when reading it's the scoundrels and neer-do-wells that I love. Here are ten of them. Mostly men, but a couple of women too. It could easily have gone the other way -- a limit of ten means I'm only scratching the surface.

1)  Jake Marlowe from The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Sexy, learned, sensitive and literary. Jake is everything you could ever want in a 200 year-old heartthrob. Except he's a werewolf with some pretty kinky sexual proclivities and a monthly need to kill. And, make no mistake, if you're there and he's transformed, things won't look so good for you. Fascinating to read, far too deadly for a friend.

Still reminds me I need to read By Blood We Live, the third book in The Bloodlines Trilogy.

Pill popping, vodka swilling, thief and gangster -- Boris jumps off the page and demands your attention. In real life? I'd be crossing to the other side of the street. Yes, I am that risk averse.

Psychologically wounded and struggling to exist as a kid in an all too adult world, Jonny elicits my sympathy and my motherly urges. As much as I feel for and with him, I think in real life I'd find him impossible, spoiled and deeply wounded. He needs someone to take care of him, but I am old enough to know I wouldn't be a good choice.

4) Thomas Cromwell from Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

A modern man in his conception of self, a master of realpolitik and a brutal striver. I like his approach to the world, but he's determined and cutthroat. I don't want to know Barak Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel or any of the nerd kings running big corporate behemoths either.

Charming and ruthless, Fosco is always entertaining, but if you threaten him, it's over. He'd be a great dinner guest at someone else's party. Bring him into my own house? Only if I knew I could get what I needed from him without making myself vulnerable and that's never as easy as it seems.

Brooding and so in need of love. I would fall for Jackson in a heartbeat, but only if he showed up looking exactly like Jason Isaacs. Since I am under the impression that Jason is a real person, entirely separate from Jackson, the impossibility of merging the soul and the physical means I would rather keep him tucked away in Kate's novels where I can visit him anytime I like.

FWIW, my husband embodies all that I love about Jackson crossed with the best parts of Mantel's Cromwell. Meaning, I live with someone who's better than any fictional character.

7) Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Brooding, romantic, totally in love with Jane yet scheming to be a bigamist. I loved him at thirteen, but now I think he's a villain who deserved to lose his house, his hand and his sight. 

8) Bernie Gunther from Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr

A German with a conscience in Hitler's Germany Bernie is a good guy in an awful world. But ever notice what happens to women who cross his path? The meet terrible ends. Nope, he's someone to avoid even, if he is interesting. I'm still planning on reading every novel Kerr writes with Bernie in a starring role, but I'll be glad to leave our relationship fictional.

I love Arya. I want to be Arya, sort of. She's fierce and she's a strong, non-gender constrained girl who may yet become a strong woman, if G.R.R. Martin fulfills his stated promise to his wife. She's a survivor of terrible horror. Still, she's a killer who's been warped and damaged by all she's seen and done. I'm not sure we would be BFFs if we ever met. I wouldn't tolerate the violence that's become a part of her soul.

10) Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Fascinating, socio-pathic, deliciously evil, Amy is a woman who will keep you turning pages, but don't ever want to think could exist in reality. The sad truth is I'm sure there are women very much like her wandering around; I just hope I don't meet and fall under the spell of one. 
Who do you love to hate in books?


  1. This looks like a great list, though I only am familiar with three of these. I entirely agree with you on Count Fosco - he'd be nice to know, but only superficially. For heaven's sake, don't get in the way of his plans!
    But aren't you a bit harsh on Rochester? I do agree that he merits his place on this list - I don't thing that *I* would necessarily fall in love with him - but I don't judge him quite as harshly as you do. I clearly see his motivations for acting as he did, and he has definitely learned his lesson just by falling in love with and being rejected by Jane. But again, I don't think that I'd like to meet him in real life either. (Goodness, I just realized I could write a post entirely on Rochester - and a pretty long one at that :-P )

    And Arya - oh poor girl. I feel so bad for her.

    1. I'm harder on Rochester than I used to be. He does love Jane, and been twisted and wounded by his relationship with Bertha. Yet, how can we go easy on someone who is willing to dangle Blanche in front of Jane as a courtship device? Someone who locks his wife away in the attic and poses as a single man to everyone in the neighborhood as well as the woman he loves? Brings his 'ward' or perhaps his love child into a household that contains a violent and dangerous lunatic? I agree, it is very easy to be swept up in the romance of his spiritual relationship to Jane, and I believe Charlotte Bronte was enamored of him, but if you look at each of his actions they add up to a man who is at best deceitful and weak. At worst he is selfish, narcissistic, and heedless of the concerns of his social world. Remember, by the mores and standards of the time he would be considered a pariah for his duplicity. Even by current social standards would you want to get involved with him? Perhaps I was really struck by how much I adored him as a teenager versus how much I wouldn't want my daughters, who are now about Jane's age, to be involved with him. Clearly, as you point out, it would be easy to write a post, even a dissertation or two, about Rochester, Jane and what Charlotte Bronte is really advocating in the book!

    2. Yeah, I definitely see what you mean. Part of me really wants to defend him, and I'm really not sure why. I think it's because I ADORE Jane and want her guy to be decent. It all boils down to my entire love and respect for Jane herself.

  2. This is such a great idea for a list! I've only read a few of these though. Rochester is definitely a flawed guy! I love Arya, but I agree I would't want to deal with her in real life.

  3. Edward Rochester thought he deserved a chance at happiness. Well, as long as Jane is happy to be with him too! :)

    Books Love Me

  4. Oooh! Great choice for your topic! There are tons of characters who I LOVE on the page, but in real life I might avoid them. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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