Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Breath of Fresh Kick-Ass

After reading the first Fifty Shades book, it was a breath of fresh air to go back to reading fiction with strong female characters in the lead, often with a partner-in-crime to equal their awesomeness.  Not every book I read has a strong girl or woman in the forefront of the story, but looking at my bookshelves, I realize how often I'm drawn to just that (thanks, Mom).  Twilight was one of my notable exceptions, but Meg made the argument during a discussion today that at least Bella comes into her own by the end of the story.  

I'd like to share a little something with you.  Here is my quick list of female characters in fiction who I might not necessarily want to be just like, but I'd certainly leap at the chance to be friends with.  Some were created during a time when women weren't allowed to vote or own property, some were created in the past decade, but all of them are the kind of role models I would like the little girls I know to have in their lives.  In other words, females who kick ass with their brawn or their brains, regardless of the size of their role in the story.

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion may be my favorite Austen novel, but quick-witted Lizzie is still my favorite Austen character, and the kind of woman I'd want to know if I lived in that period.  She may be headstrong and a bit judgmental, but she isn't afraid to speak her mind and does her best to be true to herself while remaining diplomatic (with the exception of dealing with a certain someone).  Lizzie loves to read, loves knowledge and loves her family.  She is passionate and brilliant and can hold her own, regardless of her verbal sparring partner's rank or gender.


Alexia Tarabotti from The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger
Alexia is a model of decorum despite being an oddity and an outcast in some circles.  She's got mad curves in a time when girls fainted from the combination of corsets and lack of food, and she's terribly practical.  On occasion she may have to use muscle, but most of the time she can solve a problem with that gorgeous brain of hers or some fabulous steampunk weaponry.  She's also a bit of a fruit fly and I really love that about her.  Oh, and I mustn't forget, **spoiler alert** when she does find her perfect match, he is truly her equal and loves her for being intelligent, strong and curvaceous.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Hermione may be too much of a perfectionist for her own good, but she really is brilliant and she is one fierce young lady.  Loyal, practical and compassionate, she is exactly the girl you'd want around in a crisis (or just on your side, in general) and really develops throughout this series, becoming more flexible about imperfections and rule-breaking.  Also, she has my hair.


Maggie Quinn from Maggie Quinn: Girl Vs. Evil by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Maggie is a whole lot of sass in a small, Irish package.  Smart, snarky and creative, Maggie fights evil with a psychic gift, her wits and a friend or two, but little else.  I haven't met a major character Clement-Moore has created that I didn't like, to be honest.  But Maggie was the first one I adored and I'd be her Lisa any day.

Harriet M. Welsch from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet was my first role model from fiction (explains a lot, doesn't it?) and I will probably end up with a daughter just like her.  She may be quirky and independent, but Harriet has a wealth of character flaws.  What makes her so fabulous, aside from being such a wonderful troublemaker, is that here was a young female protagonist who I could relate to, in all her individuality and wildness.  Which meant that I, too, could learn to recognize when I was wrong and be brave enough to say so, regardless of the reaction I would get.  But the most important aspect of this character for me was that she was always, unapologetically herself.

Did I leave your favorite off the list?  Does anyone have a favorite kick ass female character written by a male author?  I realize how limited my selection was just based on that, so I'd love to get some recommendations - from any genre.


  1. my new favorite is katniss (um...because she kicks ass! she is a lioness for sure!), but elizabeth bennett is my all-time favorite.

    1. How could I forget Katniss from The Hunger Games?! Definitely someone you want on your side. Katniss may not be the most self-aware person at times, but she is a survivor (and you have to consider the world she was raised in) and yeah, lioness perfectly describes her (both hunter and mama in her family)! Suzanne Collins has created some pretty amazing characters.

  2. I also really love Rick Riordan's books for kids (3 series): Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus ( Riordan has created both strong male and female characters and there is a whole range of personalities in his books. I'm also a fan of Greek and Egyptian mythology and want to pass that on to other kids.


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