28 February 2008
Booking through Thursday
Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)
Froniga, from The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge, was the first heroine (after Jane Eyre) I fell in love with. (I didn't love Jane, the character; I adored the book, but Jane herself, flinty Jane, frightened me a little. She still does. A little.) I adored the herbal lore, Froniga's conflicts between her dual gypsy and British heritage, the fine line between white witchery and the darker side, the descriptions of the aromas and colors in her garden... I can still remember my delight in the word "gillyflower." Then, as now, I missed the political context of the book, but I don't think it matters.
Honorable mention: Prudence, from Barbara Pym's Jane and Prudence, which I discovered in my thirties. Aside from the utterly delightful and wicked, almost-anthropoigical descriptions of country life in fifties Britain, with its vicars and jumble sales and tea, there's Prudence herself, with the contrasts between the city mouse to Jane's country mouse, eye shadow and jumble sales, marriage and spinsterhood (at age 29!) My favorite scene has Prudence sitting at a lunch counter and wondering if anyone is noticing the attractive woman reading Coventry Patmore. As you probably can guess, I was a (slightly older) single woman who often sat at counters reading, if not Coventry Patmore, then Montaigne, or Bronte...