I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “OMG I have been waiting ALL WEEK to read another LIST written by Katie at the behest of The Broke and The Bookish!” I live to serve, my friends. This week we got to pick our top ten characters from any genre. I decided to go with Historical Fiction because I love it so so so much. Also, I’ve read a lot of it, so I have a lot of character options. Ready? Let’s do this.
1. Belle from Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway. Remember a few weeks back when I was discussing locales I’d like to see featured in more books? And one of my choices was a HAT STORE?! BELLE RUNS A HAT STORE! She also takes Honor in when she’s got no place to go, makes her a pretty (yet Quaker friendly) bonnet, and is awesome. Oh yeah, and she totally helps escaping slaves in the Underground Railroad. Let’s recap shall we? Badass lady habberdasher and abolitionist who takes in the less fortunate. Yeah.
2. Fergus from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Fergus shows up in Dragonfly in Amber as a street urchin who has grown up in a brothel. I don’t know if you noticed or not (I’m about to brag in a big way)… But I’ve got a fondness for street urchins. You may or may not have seen my post on the Insatiable Booksluts last week… Oh you hadn’t? Yes go check it out.
3. Jack from Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. It’s hard to not like Jack. He’s got spirit, he’s smart, he is singularly motivated by his love for Aliena. It doesn’t hurt at all that in the Starz miniseries, Jack was played by Eddie Redmayne. Swoonsville.
4. Francie Nolan from Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Oh Francie! I love this girl. She loves to read, and it’s her escape from the mean streets of Brooklyn. She loves her father in spite of his alcoholism. She is met with disappointment after disappointment in her life and comes through it all to make a life for herself. I just want to hug her.
5. Dinah from Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. I really just want to make this girl a t-shirt that says “My Brother Got An Award-Winning Musical And All I Got Was This (AWESOME) Book.” Uh, if that statement doesn’t make sense to you, you ought to go read that post. Dinah is Joseph’s (as in the Technicolor Dreamcoat) sister. Those jerk brothers that sold him into slavery also slaughtered her husband’s entire village. Jerks.
6. Idgy from Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes. I absolutely adore Idgy. She’s spunky and feeds the hungry and helps out her friends. She’s also completely in love with her best friend, but respects Ruth’s boundaries and gets her lady love elsewhere. (This is why you should read the books, people. They always de-Lesbian Hollywood scripts. More’s the pity- it added so much depth to the character…)
7. Hannah from Philippa Gregory’s The Queen’s Fool. Hannah’s got a lot on her plate. She’s accidentally psychic and as such is recruited by the Tudor court. Being a royal fool to Mary I poses its own set of challenges… Hannah is secretly Jewish and in the court of a Catholic Queen so staunch in her beliefs that she orders the execution of all sorts of Protestants in England. Dicey time to be a religious dissenter, especially given Mary’s father’s penchant for beheadings.
8. Rudy from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Rudy was such a great character. I mean, the kid is Jesse Owens’ biggest fan- growing up in Nazi Germany. My favorite scene is when Rudy smears himself in soot and imagines his career as an Olympic runner. Little kids don’t know that blackface is offensive (and really, in Nazi Germany, the fact that he was idolizing a black athlete at all was more controversial than the potentially offensive choice of makeup.) I love him for going against the grain, even though it’s dangerous. He’s got a good heart that even the Nazis can’t kill.
9. Suora Zuana from Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts. Suora Zuana is admitted to a convent against her will, but finds herself a place there where she is prized for her books and her knowledge of healing. I love a girl who can’t be parted from her books! She’s also a bit of a rebel and pulls a Shakespearean style stunt. Fantastic.
10. Joan from Diana Woolfolk Cross’s Pope Joan. Talk about ballsy. This lady wants to learn so badly that she dresses like a man and joins a monastery. She’s also a great healer and sort of accidentally gets elected Pope. I know. It’s nuts. In the best possible way.
There we have it. My Top Ten Historical Fiction Characters. What do you think? Any you would add?