TEN FIERCE FEMALES!

Hello, and Happy International Women’s Day everyone! What a stunning thing, to be able to dedicate an entire day to the celebration of all women, across the world! Women are the backbone of this entire planet, and even now in 2019 we are looked down upon, still fighting for rights and respect that should have been given to us from the get go. But we are fierce, and we keep on fighting, and we stand united together today, and every single day, and that in itself is nothing less than a miracle.

Whether you’re a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, straight, transgender, non-binary, cis-gendered, Caucasian, Native American, Hispanic, Latino African, Asian – and so on, no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you identify, today, and every day, should be a celebration of our own selves. If you consider yourself a feminist, as I do, then you’ll know that feminism is intersectional, and nobody gets left behind.

Today, for International Womens’ Day, I decided that it would be nice to compile a quick list of some of the fierce, literary ladies that I love! There’s no particular order to these, just ladies that I thought deserved a little recognition.


ALICE LIDDELL

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite fairy tales and classics, and has been ever since I was barely old enough to walk on my own two feet. It’s a story that my mother read to me as a child, and one that stayed with me when I was old enough to keep at it myself. I collect various different editions of the book, as well as retellings, mugs, and all sorts. Luckily for me, I have a few of my closest friends who do the same – Jenny, in a similar light, collecting copies and even having an Alice Corner in her very own kitchen at home, as well as dressing up as the leading lady herself for World Book Day! – meaning I always get an opportunity to talk about this great character and wonderful world.

I love Alice, and the world in which Carroll has created, because it was the first introduction I ever had to a girl who, as a child – and even now, as an adult – I felt that I could see myself in. For starters, the obvious, in that she’s got an immense love and adoration for cats, which I most certainly do. But also, she had an imagination that ran so wild and free, that allowed her to create an entire world in her own mind, just when she happened to get a little bored. She’s a curious child, that being her most dominant personality trait, and an aspect of her character that always stood out to me. Many people argue that Alice is a very transparent character, lacking in a personality, somewhat due to the Wonderland being shown to us specifically through her eyes, meaning everything is just as new to her as it is to the reader, but I never personally viewed it that way. She’s just a child, after all, and her mind is run rampant with these crazy, inexplicable things she’s now seeing! As a child, Alice showed me that it was okay to be curious, and to want to learn things, to explore, and to ask questions – something that, so often, girls are reprimanded for, even today. This book, and Alice herself, taught me that I can embrace strange things, and that it’s okay to be a little odd – which, as a girl who was so often bullied for being weird, was something of a Godsend to be reminded. Even in her own ways, when faced with the Queen, Alice showed me that you should never back down if you truly, wholly believe in something. Even when the Queen was being ghastly and cruel, dishing out punishments and slandering the good names of many of the inhabitants of Wonderland, on absolutely no basis whatsoever, Alice remained firm in her resolution to question all of her accusations, and to never let her vilify her on technicalities and miscommunications. Alice remained headstrong, if a little bit stubborn, and always stood up for herself and her friends in Wonderland, and her curiosity and creativity never wavered.

While there’s always going to be questions raised and discussions to be had regarding the nature of what Wonderland is supposed to represent, I think Alice remains a great character who many young children still look up to and admire, and she’s example for young girls that it’s quite alright to question things, to not always take things sitting down – even in the face of authority – and that, sometimes, a good book, a cat by yourself, and your imagination running wild is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.


LUNA LOVEGOOD

Harry Potter – JK Rowling

Much like the rest of the world, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and Luna Lovegood has always been, hands down, my favourite character. Much like Alice in Wonderland, JK Rowling’s books were some of the first that I ever read as a child – again, with my mother assisting on the first couple – and people often draw comparisons between my love of Luna and Alice. And, I get that of course! After all, they’re both pale, blonde sorts who have a penchant for the weird and wacky. And Luna, above all else, helped me grow a little more comfortable in my own skin as a child, and taught me to never accept cruel jabs and mocking, but also to let the teasing and the harshness of others bounce off of me; she taught me to pay no mind to those who thought they were better than me, and to remember that it’s exactly that kind of attitude that makes them the lesser person.

The Harry Potter series stayed with me from a very young age, even until today, and helped shape me as a child, a teenager, and even as an adult. Now that I’m older, with a growing perspective and outlook on the world, my opinions that I once developed as a child are ever growing, ever changing, and I certainly don’t feel the exact same now about certain characters, plots, and attitudes as I did back then. But even then, to a degree, I owe that in part to these books and these characters; they taught me to open my mind and to exercise free thought, to never let anybody else think for me, to have a little perspective because that not everything is exactly as it seems. Luna, in particular, was a definite turning point in the series, too. Her introduction came just as the books steadily grew ever darker, the stakes much higher for Harry and the rest of the Wizarding World, and Luna’s presence allowed such a brief reprieve from all the angst and the drama, her airy, dreamy attitude a well deserved break from the harsh reality of what Harry was facing. Luna is presented to us as a girl who, frankly, nobody can get a handle on, her strange outlook on life, posing an obsession with creatures that surely can’t be real, an affinity for losing herself in her own thoughts and imagination, entirely zoning out from a conversation. She is, to be blunt, odd. And yet, even as the strange girl who everybody calls ‘Loony’ – whose views often defied reality and basic common sense and often left our very own book-smart Hermione pulling her hair out – is also presented to us, right from the get go, as somebody who won’t stand for being mocked or teased, and who isn’t afraid to speak her mind in any scenario. She stands up to our Golden Trio, Ron and Hermione in particular, when she feels as though they are mocking or belittling her, and she even dares to speak out to them against the beloved Hagrid – a Ravenclaw through and through in her prioritising of lessons and her education. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and be on opposing sides even to her own friends, and she finds a joy in the strange and unexplainable. She’s proven, over the course of the series and as each book develops, that she is kind, and gentle, and works her way into Harry’s heart, starting out as Ginny’s closest friend, and soon becoming one of his own, too. Though a Ravenclaw, she helps us get a better insight into the workings of the houses and the sorting hat, not necessarily fitting into the image that so many of us had of what a Ravenclaw should be. She proves that intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes, and that creativity and imagination are also notable, and an example of the different ways our way intellect can be expressed.

Luna stands with Harry, and the rest of both Dumbledore’s Army and The Order of the Phoenix all through the course of the books she’s present in, and it’s a crying shame it took Rowling so long to introduce her. She is strong, independent, and a fine example to young children, and adults too. She never wavers or backs down, and in spite of all the loss she has faced over time she only uses her experiences to harness her own strength, her bravery shining and ever present through the series.


VIOLA EADE

The Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness

These books will tear you into a million pieces, but absolutely in the best way. The Chaos Walking series is full of so many nuanced and dynamic characters, all flawed in their own way, including Viola Eade herself. That being said, she certainly stands out as such an empowering, utterly compelling heroine, and one that will stay with me for a long time to come. It’s hard to talk about her, to talk about the things she endured and suffered through, without spoiling the series for those still yet to read them, but I’ll do my best.

The Chaos Walking series follows Todd Hewitt, in a dystopian future in which all men can hear each other’s thoughts – otherwise known as noise – and women cease to exist; a scary world indeed. That is, of course, until Todd meets Viola, and until the two of them, together, work through their new found alliance and try to understand who they can and can’t trust, just why all of these men can hear each other’s thoughts, and as they work towards finding the truth about what happened to all of the women.

From that very brief, and very lazy (if I do say so myself), synopsis of the series, its evident that these books take place in a world that sorely undermines women. Of course, that’s not an unfamiliar world at all, in spite of all its differences. We live in a climate that absolutely undermines and disregards women, and if we aren’t careful we may well find ourselves living in the very landscape that Ness created within these books. Viola, however, a mere teenager, is fierce and defiant through every single thing she faces. She suffers through so much loss, torture, and all-around heartbreak over the course of the trilogy, and never allows it to break her. As compelling a character as he is, Todd is an intriguing protagonist as he presents himself as the sort of character that you can’t always trust. In fact, based on some of the decisions he makes, you aren’t always rooting for him; especially where Viola is concerned. He’s not only a teenage boy, but one who has been manipulated, gaslit even (for lack of a better term), and has his whole entire universe turned on its head time and time and time again. If he doesn’t know who to trust, and can scarcely trust himself, then how can we? How can Viola? And yet, her resolve remains strong. She takes charge, becomes a leader, and fights not only by Todd’s side but, when necessary, against him too. She stands up for the things that she truly believes in – never because she is told to think or feel a certain way, she doesn’t let her emotions or her uncertainty get the better of her, but she always digs down deep inside her own soul, into her own belief system and her own moral code, and that’s how she comes to make the decisions she makes. Every single other character in this book switches allegiance and leaves you second guessing yourself multiple times, and they’re all so often shown as falling prey to the whispers and the lies that surround them, letting others get into their head and make them question everything. Viola overcomes these mind games, these tricks, and often at a great, personal cost, but she always does what is needed to be done, even when it hurts. She fights her way through a world that so desperately wants to see her suffer, and it never dampens her spirit or turns her cold. She’s a healer above anything else, and even in the face of war the only thing she truly wants to do is to help, to empower, to heal and to spread love and goodness through a world that has only ever known war for as long as she’s been alive.

Viola Eade is such a complex and captivating character, absolutely one of my all-time favourites, and she’s truly a testament to Patrick Ness and his own, raw talent, and I can only hope she becomes a symbol of empowerment and a role model for many young girls to come.


STARR CARTER

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

If you haven’t read this book by now, what are you doing? Pick it up immediately, and allow your life to be changed.

Starr is the protagonist of Thomas’ debut novel, and I think that she may well be one of the most important people in this whole list. Each of these women have empowered and inspired me one way or another, but Starr is a cut above the rest, certainly one that should be set aside and held to a higher standard. That, of course, is a testament to Thomas’ writing and this novel as a whole, but also to the reality of what inspired it; all around us there are young black girls and boys just like Starr, living her truth and experiencing exactly what she experienced. It isn’t a pretty truth, but it’s certainly one that needs telling. Starr Carter is a young, black girl who watches one of her closest friends be short, and murdered, at the hands of a police officer. She is then faced with the same problem that so many black people are, sadly, faced with in America today: should she speak out in defence of her friend, and face the onslaught of media coverage that is sure to follow, or should she stay quiet, lead a safe life, and choose to live with knowing that she is the only other person who knows the truth of what happened that day?

Starr goes through a series of emotions over the course of the book, battling with herself, her friends, her family, and the media, a whirlwind of a struggle about what is right and what is wrong, facing the harsh, painful truths of how black people (but especially black youth) are viewed in the America of today. This book might be a work of fiction, but it’s inspired by true events, and written from the perspective of a black woman herself, someone who know the kind of racism and disdain that Starr is faced with every day, even before Khalil is murdered. What Thomas did here was incredible and groundbreaking for a number of reasons, and there’s not a single character within this novel that isn’t unimaginably compelling, layered through and through. Starr, however, remains the standout character, not only by being the protagonist and the narrator of this story, but for the strength and power she exhibits all the way through.

We see her grow from this young, teenage girl who just wants to go to school, keep her head down, and make out with her cute boyfriend in between classes; a girl who bickers with her siblings and wants to do Harry Potter and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air marathons; a girl with hopes and dreams and aspirations, a family that loves her, and friends whose company enjoys. We see her go from an ordinary teenage girl, to a girl with the whole weight of the world on her shoulders, thrust into the limelight, subject to public execution and even disdain from the police force, the media, and some of her closest friends. Through all of it she falters and she questions herself, wonders whether or not she’s doing the right thing, or whether or not she should let things lie, and there are certainly moments where she allows it to beat her down and to leave her feeling raw and broken and alone. But, by the end of it, she still stands tall; she faces her demons and she stands up for what is right, for Khalil, for every single black teen or adult that has ever been subject to the unjust abuse that she and her friends have. And yet, by the end of it all, she’s not this war-torn, battered young girl, hardened by her experiences. No, she was always strong, always brave with an unparalleled ferocity within, and she’s still just a child – one who has seen things, and one who has had to grieve more times than any child should ever have to, but still a girl with hopes, dreams, a boyfriend that she likes, real friends that deserve her energy, and a family who loves her. Her name has power, and she embodies every inch of it until the very end.


JOHANNA HOFFMAN

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy – Mackenzi Lee

Well ahead of her time, Johanna Hoffman was one of the standout characters for me in this particular sequel. It’s hard to pinpoint a female character in this particular book that I don’t love – both Felicity and Sim are equally as phenomenal – but I could only choose one, and so I did.

Johanna, a childhood friend of Felicity’s, long since having drifted from her, has a wealth of privilege at her very feet. She’s white in the 1700s, and certainly of a higher class than many. Some would look to her and consider her lucky, but indeed, she is not. She is still a woman, a woman whose rights and whose agency is often disregarded as though it were not relevant in the first place. An orphan, she has no claim to her own fortune or inheritance, not unless she should choose to marry – because, naturally, it is a man’s world and we merely happen to be here.

Johanna is an intriguing and delightful character, similar to Felicity, our leading lady, in so many ways, while simultaneously being the polar opposite. The two spent their childhood years adventuring together, sharing their hopes and dreams to become scientists and explorers and the like, getting their hands dirty and paying no mind to what was or wasn’t expected of a young girl. Where Felicity believed that Johanna soon grew out of this ‘phase’, and that she believed herself better than her, that she thought of herself as nothing as a woman to be wed, we see that in actual fact Johanna has come into her own in a much more memorable way. Johanna firmly believes that she should be entitled to have the best of both worlds (and quite right, too), and that she should never have to sacrifice her femininity for the sake of being a free, working lady, or vice versa. I think, the best way to accurately sum up Johanna as a character, for me, is this quote in its entirety:

Every time you rolled your eyes and every little smart remark you made about how silly it was for girls to care about their looks. You refused to let me–or anyone!–like books and silks. Outdoors and cosmetics. You stopped taking me seriously when I stopped being the kind of woman you thought I had to be to be considered intelligent and strong. All those things you say make men take women less seriously–I don’t think it’s men; it’s you. You’re not better than any other woman because you like philosophy better than parties and don’t give a fig about the company of gentlemen, or because you wear boots instead of heels and don’t set your hair in curls.”

There are so many layers to a person’s feminism even today, with many people believing that to be a feminist that you have to behave one way or another, when in reality that’s the exact mindset that feminism is working towards putting an end to. The whole point is that a woman should be free to be whoever she wants to be, and that we shouldn’t be cornered into tiny little boxes of this, that, or another. If a woman wants to wear make up, frilly dresses, and get married? Marvelous, and so long as it’s her choice, then nobody should think any less of her for it. Should a woman wish for a life of adventure, of grit and intellect, then so be it. And, if a woman, such as Johanna should want both? Then go and get it, girl.


DAISY JONES

Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe this one’s a little premature, given that this is such a recent release, and has barely even started to make its mark on the world, but I love Daisy. She’s by no means perfect, and in fact is incredibly flawed, always making the wrong choices, both for herself and for others, and falling down a rabbit hole of despair. She is an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a hopeless case to so many, but her story is so nuanced, so layered, the suffering that she has seen all through her childhood and teen years a clear indicator as to why she became the person that she did, and why she made those decisions along the way. This was my first real dive into Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing, but Daisy stood out as an enrapturing and powerful female lead. She isn’t necessarily the kind of character that many readers are going to like – no doubt she’ll be subject to so many of the crass, aggressive insults that are so often hurled at women when they don’t fit into societies norms of what a woman should be – and, indeed, she’s not somebody that I can personally relate to and connect with on a particularly personal level. While there’s certainly small details, tiny insights into her life that I can relate to (which we absolutely won’t be getting into, don’t worry), I think what makes her such a standout character is that she is nothing like the person that I am, or the person that I aim to become, and yet she parallels so many real artists out there, so many people in the spotlight who have been down the same dark, winding paths that she once followed. She’s a perfect caricature of the people that we see printed on magazines and newspapers, whose faces are plastered all over social media and news outlets, children and adults alike, all around the world, aspiring to be like Daisy, or to know a Daisy. Her lifestyle, and the poor choices she makes along the way, aren’t always inspiring, and they certainly aren’t pretty, but they are a reflection of real life, and real people, and the dark turns we can take along the way, the pressures of our peers and of celebrity status, the pull of addiction, and the niggling agony of the trauma encountered along the way.

Yet, in spite of all the darker, more painful aspects of Daisy’s characterisation, she was fierce, she stood up for herself and for her right to be Daisy. She was a feminist in the 70s – a difficult feat even today, never mind 49 years ago – and she knew her own value, her own strengths and worth, and she was careful to never let anybody make her feel small or insignificant – and, when they managed to, it nearly broke her. ‘Nearly’ being the operative word, because Daisy was nothing if she wasn’t strong, and she survived all of it. Daisy was a woman who wanted to lead, to be front and centre and unapologetically so. She wore as much and as little as she liked, and she had no qualms about it – certainly, she couldn’t care less what men thought of the way she presented herself – and she would swear like a sailor, to her hearts content, and express herself exactly as she wished. Daisy was herself for herself, not for anybody else, but she was also gentle, a woman who knew when to dial it down a notch and peel things back. She knew how to behave around children, and was well aware of the example she set. She was messy and flawed, and she made countless mistakes, but at her core she was still good.


ABBY SUSO

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

I realise this is a controversial thought, and apologies to anybody who disagrees, but the Abby that I personally loved definitely came from the first book of the SimonVerse, moreso than the second, so she’s the one I’ll be focusing on. I wasn’t a massive lover of Leah on the Offbeat, and I had a lot of issues here and there with the plot, the characterisation, etc, which is why for the time being I’m going to be talking about Abby in Simon, instead.

I loved Abby. Right from the get go, I adored her. I thought she was sweet, funny, intelligent, and she seemed to have a heart of gold. In Simon, Nick, and Leah’s world, she was the new girl, the girl who had arrived at school one day, having just moved to town, a slight dent in their usual routine. And yet, she became an immediate part of Simon’s world, the two of them hitting it off instantly and becoming fast friends. Nick and Leah were his best friends, those that he’d known from a young age, and yet the love shared between Abby and Simon was never anything less than the love he shared with the other two. She came into his life a little later, sure, but she made an impact and she was there to stay; she cared for Simon and he did for her. Throughout Simon’s story she proves herself to be nothing but a loyal friend, standing by him and supporting him when he needed it the most.

Anyone who has seen Love, Simon (the movie adaptation!), will know that there are several instances in the movie that have been changed from the book. Some are incredible changes, like the individual scenes we’re given between Simon and his parents, those standout moments where we get to see a young, gay boy, struggling with coming out and feeling utterly alone, connect with his parents in a way that so many young people within the LGBT+ community hope to be able to achieve some day. That being said, there are other changes that have never sat quite right with me; the finest example being the way Simon’s friends treated him after he was outed by Martin.

Instead of supporting their friend, instead of being there for him in his hour of need, they cut him out entirely. They watched as he was bulled and humiliated in front of the entire school, when they could have stood by his side and supported him. Frankly, I think no matter what, whether someone is your friend or not, that kind of behaviour should never be condoned or ignored. In the book, it isn’t. Abby, in particular, stands out as marching up to Simon’s antagonisers, immediately coming to his defence. She’s the first person that Simon ever confides in about his sexuality (aside from Blue), and she never makes him feel like anything has changed, and in fact encourages him and supports him, helps him to feel more comfortable within his own skin and his own sexuality. When he’s outed by Martin, she’s the first person to phone him and text him, to check in and see how he’s doing. She’s the friend, out of everyone, that tries to encourage Leah and Nick to offer him a few warm words of comfort, and tries to coax them into being a little supportive. Where Leah is shown to be a little selfish about the whole ordeal, unjustifiably hurt that he chose to come out to Abby instead of her, Abby takes a gentle approach with her friend and provides a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, at any given moment that he might need it. The iconic scene featuring Ms. Albright in the movie, where she faithfully comes to Simon’s aids against his bullies, is featured similarly in the book, only with the presence of Abby (as well as Brianna and Taylor, too).

Indeed, we see Abby get upset with Simon, too, of course! After all, Martin blackmailing Simon impacted Abby too, and as someone who already knew that he was gay, she had every right to know the truth about what Martin was putting him – the both of them – through. The way the film handled it never sat right with me, her anger was entirely justified, but she still left him to suffer, entirely alone (as did Nick and Leah) through one of the most difficult periods of his life. In the book, she approaches him about it and is perfectly civil, kind even, and is up front with him. She’s gentle, even in her anger, and she tells him that he had no right to make those decisions for her, that he should have been honest with her; she’s fierce, she’s protective, and has Simon’s back until the very end, but she won’t take any shit, and she’s willing to stand up for herself even against her friends. As opposed to the movie’s approach, Albertalli addresses this particular betrayal really well, and we actually get to see Simon still in a scenario where he isn’t entirely alone, and his friends haven’t abandoned him (perhaps with the exception of Leah, at times), but he’s still held accountable for the mistakes he did make along the way, and a lot of that is due to Abby being open and honest with him, putting herself first when necessary. All the while, Abby stays on speaking terms with him, still remains his friend – maybe even his best friend – while never compromising her own integrity or self worth in the process.

I think, in the long run, Abby is a character that I’d love to see a piece of myself in – or, at the very least, somebody that I aspire to be like. She’s gentle, sweet, and caring towards her friends. She’s got a lot of strength within her, having faced her own struggles over the years, whether those are in relation to her family, friends, or her own sense of security, but she keeps her head up and puts all of her heart and soul into looking out for and caring for others. She’s got a great sense of integrity and morality, shown time and time over the course of the book, despite being told from Simon’s personal narrative – and, truthfully, Simon can be an incredibly selfish narrator at time, as much as we all love him! She’s witty and intelligent, a little bit on the nerdy, playful side, while still always being on hand to offer solace and a safe space for a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and ready to offer out a little bit of level-headedness and advice where necessary. She’s someone who prioritises her friends and the happiness and safety of others, but won’t let them walk all over here in the process.


LIZZIE BENNET

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

It was inevitable, really, wasn’t it? I could never have done this list without her! I can’t imagine anybody here needs to learn about Elizabeth Bennet, and certainly you won’t all need an in depth discussion on why she inspires me, but all the same. Elizabeth Bennet, and all of the Bennet ladies in their own right, is something of a staple within feminism and empowering, female, literary heroes. She shows you that a woman can be flawed and make mistakes, while still being deserving of respect. Much like Johanna, as previously stated, she is a woman ahead of her time in that she is independent, and does not place her value on that of a man’s opinion. She does not weigh her worth up against other people, and she has no time or interest in finding herself a husband, unlike her sisters. She’s witty, intelligent, and bravely stands up for her herself throughout the course of the book. Though we are, of course, rooting for her and Darcy to be together, I still find myself cheering her on every single time she puts him in his place, and educates him on his bad behaviour. She is fiercely protective of her sisters in particular, and has a very strong sense of sisterhood and an all encompassing, maddeningly empowering, level of spirit and adoration for her fellow ladies (bar a select few, of course).

Headstrong and increasingly unconventional for the times she was living in, Elizabeth leaves her fellow siblings, her mother, and various suitors awestruck when she rejects various different marriage proposals throughout the course of this novel. Living in a society that places the utmost value on marriage, and where the sole purpose of a woman is to be married and to have children, this is an enormous step for Lizzie to take, and a large part of what sets her apart as such a wildly proclaimed feminist icon. Indeed, even for Austen to have written such a character in the 1800s is impressive in its own right.

Lizzie is a woman who not only stands firm in her beliefs, but also a woman who grows through the course of the book. She isn’t always right, and her decisions aren’t always sound. She can be short-tempered and stubborn, and often reads a scenario wrong (as is the case with Wickham), but she always comes around in the end, and takes the opportunities to learn and to grow from a situation. While she is not one to follow the crowd, and is perfectly happy doing what she wants to do, and being the woman that she wants to be, she learns along the way that sometimes taking the time to listen and to truly evaluate a situation, and to leaving your heart open to forgiveness, is often the step that will lead you on the right path.


JULIET ASHTON

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer

In a lot of ways, Juliet is very similar to Elizabeth Bennet. Naturally, they have both been played by the delightful Lily James on one occasion or another, but there’s more to it than their likeness.

Juliet is a lover of reading, and an author to boot, two facts that lead her on her journey throughout this book. Written solely through letters between Juliet and the various other characters within this novel, we have a clear view of exactly the kind of person that Juliet is, with various different narratives and perspectives of her at our disposal.

Juliet proves herself resourceful and intelligent, a mind full of curiosities and creativity, ever eager to have a book in her hand, or her own story on the tip of her tongue. Juliet is yet another of these incredible ladies that prove that you do not need to fit neatly into one person’s perception of you, and that you don’t have to adhere to certain norms and expectations, but that you can be many different things at once. She is kind, generous, and tender to those she cares for, but never timid or anything close to being a pushover. She’s headstrong, perhaps a little too forward and, at times, certainly very stubborn, but she still forthright and tactful in her approach. One of Juliet’s more endearing traits, for me, is that in spite of her job, and in spite of the work that she does – and even the dark times that they’re living in – she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is as light and breezy as they come, always happy to tease, and joke, and flirt with her friends and the inhabitants of Guernsey. She keeps an open mind regarding Sidney’s sexuality, having absolutely no issue whatsoever with his attraction to men (and subsequent relationship with one), and her loyalty to him is never even remotely called into question. She happily laughs and jokes and makes a fool of herself, and loves nothing more than a good old gossip with the other ladies and gents of Guernsey.

This is yet another book that calls forth a woman’s right to be feminine and strong, and Juliet is certainly that. She takes sheer joy in dressing herself up in a beautiful gown and dancing the night away, while also showing little-to-no reservations about trudging along the Island at Dawsey and Kit’s sides, helping them get their hands dirty. One of my favourite elements of this book was the fact that Juliet had not one, but two suitors, in Dawsey and Markham. Of course, many books fall into the tired trope of love triangles and unrequited affections, but the only way in which it bothered me in this book was not the fact that the triangle existed – oh no, that called for some great mix-ups and hilarious interactions – but the fact that Markham was, quite frankly, insufferable. And yet, he was almost the perfect antagonist to a woman such as Juliet. To refer back to the aforementioned Lizzie Bennet parallels, he’d certainly give George Wickham a run for his money – though, admittedly, Dawsey is certainly no Darcy. The contrast of Juliet against characters like Markham, his controlling nature and his disregard for the things that mattered so dearly to her, was incredibly well written and portrayed, and it was great (and a little daunting) getting to see a character such as him, that so accurately echoes so many of the men that we’ve all encountered in our own lives. The only difference was that Markham didn’t expect Juliet to be such a perfect match for him; which is to say, she could hold her own perfectly well, and knew exactly how to put him in his place and knock him down a peg or two. And, in all honesty, her relationship with both men just showed us a fine example of a strong woman that doesn’t need a man, but sees no harm in wanting one.


CELIE

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

I’ve talked about this book over and over again, to absolutely anybody who will listen, and I can only hope that it will make a mark and encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to please pick it up. This is not an easy read, but it is a necessary one. Celie’s journey throughout the course of this book is a heavy and heartbreaking one, a story that had me in tears on multiple occasions, but one that leaves you in awe of her strength, her capacity to love and even to forgive, and the courage required to endure as much as she did, and still come out on top.

Celie starts out her story as a timid, passive woman; the kind of woman who had been so beaten down, so abused and belittled, that she no longer has the means to stand up for herself, fight back, or – dare I say it – even say no. Her story is told from the perspective of her own letters, hand-written to God, starting out from as young as fourteen. Over the course of the book, the recipients begin to change, each change an indication of her growth and her progress within herself.

Celie is a woman afraid, and The Color Purple is a haunting tale of a woman desperately clinging on to whatever threads of humanity she has left, desperately trying to claw her way free from the men in her life.

Celie’s journey is an attempt to free herself from the confines of man, but also the confines of her own mind, her memories, and all of the things that continue to define her and pull her down. She spends the course of this novel fighting to become the person she wants to be, on a path to discovery, relearning the shape of her own body and her own mind. We join her as she discovers new levels to her own sexuality, and attraction to women; in a world that beats her down for being black, poor, and a woman, she embraces her love of women, too, and defies them one last time. Getting to watch Celie gain a level of satisfaction within herself, her looks, her sexuality, her social status, felt so empowering and so uplifting, and in spite of all the pain that flitted across these pages, I found myself so incredibly uplifted and empowered by the end of her story. There really are not enough words in this world that could accurately describe just how powerful a story this, or how unimaginably formidable, Celie comes to be.


And there we go! This is by no means every fierce female that I’ve fallen in love with via the pages of a book, nor will they be the last, but I had to try and limit myself to just ten, and so here we are.

Who are your favourite literary ladies? Are there any characters, authors, or women in your life that empowered and impacted you over the year? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!

And, if you’re someone who is interested in talking about the literary lady loves of your life, please don’t hesitate to get involved in mine and Esme’s second book rec lottery; this month’s theme is *ding ding ding* you got it! Books with Badass Ladies. We want to hear about all of your favourite female leads, what it is about them that you love and that inspires them, and we’ll be featuring them in next month’s blog! Please, go get involved, and happy reading! 🙂

5 thoughts on “TEN FIERCE FEMALES!

  1. esmoogle says:

    YAAAAAAAAS THIS POST IS WONDERFUL!!!!

    I think there’s only one I haven’t read? But is definitely on my list, so I have no doubt I will agree with you when I get around to it 🙂

    I especially love Juliet being on here! In fact, all the ladies here are incredibly different – you haven’t just picked ‘fierce’ and gone for tough women, but ladies who are strong and smart and brave for very different reasons!

    Liked by 1 person

    • anovelidea says:

      Thanks lovely!!!

      Yeah! I think it’s high time we redefine what it means to be a fierce and strong woman, because being tender and shy can be just as brave as being loud and outgoing!

      I couldn’t resist having Juliet on there, she really is SO great, an underrated fav ☺️

      Like

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