20 Jun 2010

Heroes and heroines

Sometimes a character stays in our our minds long after we have finished reading the book. We think and rethink of  his or her exploits, wonder why he did or didn't do certain things and all in all treat them as if they really lived, which they did actually - in the writer's imaginations and also in their readers'. Who are your favourite heroes and heroines? I certainly have a number - but I think number one among them is Mr Darcy, of Pride and Prejudice, although when I think of Darcy, its the movie version of Darcy that comes to mind - the one who acted with Kiera Knightley.

Then there's Ashton from The Far Pavillions - one of the most romantic novels of all time, on par with Gone With the Wind and Dr Zhivago as well as All this and Heaven too.  I first read The Far Pavillions  by M.M. Kaye way back in the 70s and fell in love with the handsome, brave, loyal Ash. Set in India in the 19th Century against a background of war and splendid Indian palaces, it is a long saga of the life of an orphaned boy Ashton Pelham- Martyn who was brought up as an Indian - Ashok - up till the age of 12.  In fact he never knew his parents who were both killed during the Indian Mutiny and he was rescued by his Indian nurse who to save his life, brought him up as her own. When he was discovered by British troops and they realised that he was actually an English boy - he was taken away from all that he loved in India and sent to England to be "educated" and "civilised". Because of his fluent Hindi and his knowledge of India he was sent back to India after he graduated from university to act as interpreter in the British army. This is a richly woven tale of intrigue, love, betrayal, friendship and loyalty. I find Ashton one of the greatest heroes ever found in writing. A truly great read which I have read over and over again over the years.

There are so many more favourite characters - many from Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, some from Georgette Heyer's novels and a few from Nora Roberts.My love has always been for historical novels and I find that heroes from these books are normally very dashing and I love them not only for their looks but for their sense of humour, bravery and intelligence. One such is Eugenides, from Megan Whalen Turner's series - The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and the King of Attolia and last in the series - A Conspiracy of Kings.

Women characters who act as the main protagonists too are many - and like Darcy in Austen's beloved novel, Elizabeth is a wondefully lively character. She reminds me a bit of Jo in Little Women. Or Rosalind from Shakespeare's As you like it. I never really liked the bossy Emma or the quiet Fanny from Mansfield Park, though I enjoyed the books nevertheless. And way back in my childhood days - I still remember Julian from Enid Blyton's Famous Five series, as well as George who was actually Georgina. I'm sure everyone has her/ his own favourite characters -  in fact, when I was growing up Julian was my hero - at laest until I met other heroes in my teens.


naida said...

A good character is unforgettable. I agree, Mr Darcy is a great character. I always liked that he looks within himself and puts his pride aside for Elizabeth.

I havent read The Far Pavillions, I have to add that to my TBR :) Ash sounds great.

Emma always made me laugh though, especially in the film version with Gwenyth Paltrow. Another great hero in there is the dashing Mr. Knightly.

I think Scarlett O'Hara is an unforgettable heroine. Mostly because she broke conventions.
And on the other hand, I always liked Rhett Butler for putting her in her place when needed...lol.


Kat said...

I agree with you there naida - Rhett Butler is a wonderful hero but at times I did feel that he is a bit too male. You should read The Far Pavillions! I think the book is really old - don't know if you can still find it. I like Ash because apart from his good looks, he is very human, with human failings. I think if I were to meet the real person, he'd be a very good friend. Cant fall for him because his heart would already belong to Anjuli, the heroine.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

A fantastic post!!!! You have named my all time favorites too. :D I read The Far Pavilions aloud to Jeff. How great to share that aweseome read with him!!!

You're a beautiful teacher, Kat, and I am blessed to have met you through blogging.

Hugs, JJ