1. Sorcha - Daughter of the Forest
After reading Daughter of the Forest, Juliet Marillier has quickly managed to become one of my new favourite authors. Blending Celtic mythology, fantasy and beautiful prose, the worlds she manages to create are nothing short of magical.
Now add to that a strong heroine who survives what life throws her way against all odds, then you'll have the basic idea just what forms the backbone of Sorcha's (the protagonist of the novel) character. I loved her for the sacrifices she willingly and not-so willing had to make and for giving up almost everything she had in order to save her brothers.
You can read our review here.
2. Elizabeth - Pride and Prejudice
Ah, what would this list be without Elizabeth? I have yet to come across someone who hasn't read and fell in love with the brave, forthright and courageous woman who lived in a time when money, social status and high society were considered far more important than love and happiness (actually, THAT pretty much sounds like today's society, but that's another column for another day).
Oh, she's not without her flaws, but one has to admire her strength and resolve as well as her steadfast refusal to wed someone that she just doesn't love and risk being shunned by all and sundry. She's a timeless heroine so many of us love and wish we could be. Plus, she gets Mr Darcy doesn't she? You don't need any more reasons than that.
Buy your copy here.
3. Sophie - Sophie's world
Sophie's World is quite the gem of a novel. The heroine, Sophie? Even more of a gem in her own right. Pairing up a 14-year old girl and philosophical teachings seem like such a bizarre combination, but Jostein Gaarder (one of my favourite authors) manages to make this combination work explosively well.
Sophie is precocious, inquisitive and refreshingly interested in knowing how the world she lives in works. I found it very easy to engage with her simply because she's so willing to be taught and to broaden her horizons and eagerly laps up anything that is thrown her way. Possibly naïve, but still. I like and admire her for wanting to pursue knowledge instead of going after life's little quick fix little pleasures. I'm also possibly quite biased towards her because I have soft little spot for philosophical topics.
You can read my review here.
4. Hermione - The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I'd give a brief little introduction about the book series, but I'm pretty sure that most of you must have read or at least heard about the Harry Potter series (If you haven't then where have you been?).
What's not to love about Hermione? She's book smart, magic-smart, witty, incredibly intelligent, brave, courageous and hooks up with the very loveable, shaggy and mop-haired Ron (that's how I picture him). Totally defying conventional stereotyping, which is why she is such a winner in my books. I'm pretty convinced that I wouldn't have enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series if it wasn't for Hermione.
Buy the first book in the series here.
5. Tita - Like Water for Chocolate
Tita is the heroine in Like Water for Chocolate, a story about magic, cooking, family tradition and forbidden love. Gifted with an exquisite talent for cooking, Tita is the youngest of 3 girls who is forbidden the right to marry and is forced to stay behind to tend to her cruel and overbearing mother.
When she falls in love with Pedro, she's forced to watch as her mother hands her eldest daughter to him. For the next 22 years Tita's pain is woven into every meal she cooks, effusing and affecting everyone else's emotions in the process. Tita is one of my favourites simply because she endures and survives 22 years of hell and deals with her life, losses, longing and love all through the one outlet that helps her to get through it all - cooking.
Read my review here.
6. Clara - The House of Spirits
Isabel Allende has always been one of my favourite authors - and it's not just because of the lyrical prose or the presence of mystical and magic realism elements that are so prevalent throughout her novels, but because the heroines in her novels radiant such a strong sense of self-worth and confidence (even in the midgst of trial and tribulation) that reading their stories are such a joy.
As the matriarch in Allende's generational story about four women whose lives are inexorably intertwined and linked with one, Clara is the elusive and mysterious clairvoyant, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.
Although the story is told from alternative viewpoints, the voice which really stood out the most for me was Clara's. Her strength and undeniable love for her family helps her to keep her family household together despite and in spite of the variable amount of forces try to drive their order apart. I loved this even more than Daughter of Fortune.
Buy your copy of the book here.
7. Jane - Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre is another one of those stories that simply don't need an introduction. Most of us adore the handsome and brooding Mr Rochester, but so many of us look past the highly spirited Jane whose strength of character, back bone and acute sense of right and wrong shines throughout the novel.
One simply has to admire a character who has often been trampled upon, but whose fighting spirit and sense of integrity makes her one of those characters whose true beauty really radiates from within.
Buy your copy of the novel here.
8. Maya - Forbidden
Anyone who has been reading my newsletter or reviews lately, will know that I've been raving about this book to no end. Without going into too much detail, the book tackles a rather controversial topic (consensual sibling incest), but does so in an incredibly touching, non-sensationalistic and graceful manner, that you'll just warm to the characters and their story instantly.
As far as female protagonists go, Maya (the sister in the story) was instantly likeable. She's the kind of character you would trust to look after your kids and has a source of strength within her that is incredibly compelling. The ending of the story (and this is really what makes the novel) is what really made my heart break, and I really, really applaud and admire her for the choice that she made, because I know I wouldn't be able to do what she did at the end.
Read my review here.
9. The nameless heroine - The Blood of Flowers
I was at once sceptical and fascinated by the thought of this book. As someone who tends to gravitate towards character-driven books, knowing the name of the character is definitely an important factor when reading a book. Turns out, it wasn't all that necessary. At least not with The Blood of Flowers
The character, in this case a young 14-year old girl, had a personality that shone through in spite of her not being given a name. Following the death of her father, the young talented carpet designer and her mom travel to the city where they are taken in as servants by her uncle and his wife.
Using all her skills, creativity and artistic genius, the young, impetuous girl quickly puts her skills to use. I loved her character. She's young ,impetuous and impulsive but she possesses such a strength of spirited character, she made me wish for a second that I was her in this book.
She makes mistakes (lots of them), and pays the ultimate sacrifice for them as well, but her I can do this and survive anything life throws my way attitude had me rooting for her all the way. Every now and then, I still go back to read her story.
Read our review here.
10. Chiyo/Sayuri - Memoirs of a Geisha
It's been a good while since I've read this book, but for all the time that has passed since I've read this book, Sayuri's character has been a character that has stayed with me up until today. As a young girl, Chiyo (who becomes Sayuri later on), is adopted and sold into a life of servitude where she will eventually be trained to become a geisha.
Seperated from her sister, she has to endure a whole spate of roadblocks, obstacles and misery before she can even begin to remotely get somewhere in life. She's not an easy character to love, but for me character growth and development is incredibly important and watching and experiencing her grow up, encountering setbacks and becoming a victim to cruelty, jealousy was at once riveting and heartbreaking.
Most importantly? Getting to share in the elation of overcoming all that to carve a future for herself in an environment where women aren't altogether truly valued.
Buy your copy here.
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Right, it's your turn now. Who are some of your favourite fictional heroines and what is it that you love about them?