Literary Ladies or the Women of the Written Word Who Continually Inspire

Though oftentimes there are complaints about the dearth of complex, empowering women in film, literature has long been the champion of heroines. This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post celebrates the heroines that have inspired us as readers. There was also an option to choose women of film and television, but books are where it all started for me so that’s what I’m focusing on.

*As usual, all following links lead to Goodreads*

1. Alanna of Trebond from The Song of the Lioness series: Alanna a.k.a The Lioness a.k.a The Woman Who Rides Like a Man a.k.a. The Lady Knight was and still is my hero. I found this series when I was a pre-teen and it was a really empowering series to read as a young girl. I still go back and re-read these books from time to time because I still connect with them.

2. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter series: What can I say? Hermione showed a generation of young girls that is was OK to be brainy–better than OK, she made it noble and necessary. But she didn’t stop at book-learning either, Hermione followed her friends into the proverbial fire and often saved them from it too.

3. Anita Blake from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series: She raises zombies, she executes vampires, and she wields sarcasm like a gun. Better yet, Anita is a character that struggles with her sense of morality and faith in the midst of temptation and fear. I have always appreciated her flaws as a character as much as her strengths, which is the hallmark of a powerful heroine.

4. Skye O’Malley from The O’Malley Saga: Bertrice Small was one of the first romance writers that I gravitated towards, and Skye O’Malley is arguably one of her finest characters. Skye creates an empire and revels in her independence, plus she has some serious seductive powers. Long before hashtags were a thing, Skye O’Malley was winning.

5. Mary Boleyn from The Other Boleyn Girl: The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorite historical novels. I’ve always been fascinated by the Tudor era, so I knew about Mary in passing, but Phillipa Gregory brought Mary to life in a vibrant and vulnerable way.

6. Diana Bishop from the All Souls Trilogy: I immediately connected with Diana in The Discovery of Witches because of her passion for archival research, which I was also doing at the time. Diana becomes quite a bit more than an academic throughout the series, but that will always be one of the principle reasons I love her.

7. Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium series: Lisbeth is one of the most bad-ass literary characters I’ve encountered, female or male. She’s troubled yet competent, secretive yet sexually open: the Millennium series is really her story.

8. Claire Randall from the Outlander series: One of Claire’s biggest strengths is her compassion and capacity to love. The time traveling thing is also great, but so many of her actions are defined by her kindness that cannot be mistaken for weakness.

9. Diana Mayo from The Sheik: E.L. James would be nothing without E.M. Hull. The original romance novel, Hull’s book created a whole market (don’t get me wrong it has some serious flaws a la Fifty Shades but is a much better read). Diana Mayo is headstrong and fiercely independent, which makes her an infinitely more interesting character.

10. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Lizzie Bennet has been a role-model for generations in large part because of her flaws–her biting wit, her stubbornness, and her, well, pride. Her flaws are precisely why Elizabeth Bennet is compelling and lovable, which makes for one hell of a heroine.

There you have it! My top ten notable heroines. With the exception of Stieg Larsson, all of these characters were written by women as well. I’m not sure if that says more about female writers or about my personal preferences, but it’s an interesting coincidence nevertheless.

Who were your favorite femmes?

Thanks for popping in!

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2 thoughts on “Literary Ladies or the Women of the Written Word Who Continually Inspire

  1. Hi. Great list! I’m surprised to see Mary Boleyn in the list. I find her quite forgettable because Anne is the more dominant sister.
    Lizzie is a popular choice but I prefer Emma Woodhouse because in my humble opinion, she shows more character growth. 🙂

    Like

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