My “Top Three” (Of Both)

We are back home – home still for now – in Bedfordshire. Lots happened last week. We hope our house move down to Dartmouth will happen in late July or early August…

[Dartmouth, Devon. Photo by me, June 18, 2022.]

Tired from all we have been doing down there last week preparing for the move, and the drive back yesterday was over five hours long, after a few recent “heavy-ish” posts I thought a somewhat “lighthearted” one might be called for…

[From Instagram.]

The “bookstagrammer” above doesn’t tell us who “he” is… which is obviously part of the fun here. It is Instagram, after all. But “he” must REALLY be something special, that’s for sure. LOL!

Nevertheless it is an intriguing writing issue. As writers there is no way a male author can avoid writing women or a female author can avoid writing men unless each tries to write stories populated by only other men or only other women. That latter is hardly reasonable in most tales.

I posted on this topic I recall in 2018/19 (how time flies!), when I shared with you my favorite fictional characters in novels – both men and women. That of course does not mean they are ”the best” or “the greatest” characters ever, but merely have resonated possibly the most with me since I started reading “adult” literature as a teen. As that was a while ago now, for this post here’s a quick review (with the original posts’ links below) of my “top three” of both:

Men:

3) Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility);

[Illustration from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. The illustration is by Hugh Thomson (1860-1920). The caption for the picture is “He cut off a long lock of her hair.” (According to the customs and etiquette of the time, permitting him to take a lock of her hair as a keepsake would be considered improper on her part unless the two were actually engaged.) Public Domain. Wikipedia.]

2) Christopher Newman (The American);

1) Leslie Slote (The Winds of War & War and Remembrance).

And next…

Women:

3) Natasha Rostova (War and Peace);

[Watching an episode of Ten Percent, the Amazon British adaptation of Call My Agent!, last night and was surprised to see Clémence Poésy make a guest appearance. She is Natasha Rostova in a 2007 version of War and Peace, which is probably my favorite version. From my Instagram stories. Photo of our lounge television.]

2) Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice);

1) Cora Munro (The Last of the Mohicans).

Those have not changed since I wrote the original posts. Some may surprise you. Some may not.

Here is a new twist, though, prompted by that bookstagrammer’s post. “Colonel Brandon” as a man was written by a woman (Jane Austen). In turn, of the women, only “Elizabeth Bennet” was written by a woman (again, by Jane Austen).

Of the women above written by men, “Natasha Rostova” was based by Tolstoy (he admitted) largely on his sister-in-law, so she has a clear real-life basis. (Clémence Poésy above having been cast as “Natasha” was criticized by some because she is a blonde – one of the first I think blondes to play the role in a major adaptation – and “Natasha” was dark-haired in the novel. How petty and silly some can be.) “Cora Munro’s” sourcing by James Fenimore Cooper is unclear (I have not seen it stated outright from where “she” comes), but it is difficult to believe like any woman character ”she” did not develop from some woman/women he knew, encountered briefly, or had even just read about; and his wife did read the manuscript pre-publication, and was at times his “pen” as he dictated to her, so she must have had some uncredited “input.”

As a man, I do not believe another male author who claims to have written a woman character out of “thin air” (any more than I believe a woman could do so of a man). I don’t know how doing it could even be mentally possible, to be honest. Our minds are so cluttered, there is always some “source” individual(s)… even if “she” comes out of the “subconscious” from “someone(s)” you may have thought you had “forgotten.”

However, as for “comic book” women… written by men… uh… well, LOL!

Hope you are having a good weekend (and a Happy Father’s Day), wherever you are. 🙂