I’ve always gravitated to the strong female characters in a story. I’d come away from a book feeling empowered-I could take on the world! Isn’t it wonderful when a character resonates so strongly within you that you feel your own character has been shaped by theirs?
I remember, as a teenager, reading Catherine Marshall’s Christy. She wasn’t much older than I was then, but Christy left home with little more than faith and love to teach in the wilds of the Smokey Mountains. She entered a world of poverty and beauty but discovered great personal strengths within herself that helped her succeed and flourish in this new world. Something of Christy has stayed within me all my life, giving me strength to overcome many of life’s obstacles, though mine pale in comparison to hers!
Jane Austen’s novels were an incredible discovery years ago. Books that I thought would be dull-as-dirt required reading in school turned out to have wise and witty heroines dealing with a cultural system that was far from female-friendly! But Jane, with her amazingly dry and insightful wit skewered the society around her while elevating the female character in fiction. These gals weren’t stupid…well, some of them were- but not our heroines!
From Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), to Emma(Emma), to Anne Elliot(Persuasion), and most definitely to Elizabeth Bennett (Pride andPrejudice). These are women so strong that fiction writers have copied and imitated their characters in countless books! What woman wouldn’t be proud to have ‘Lizzy’s’ strong and honest character? Even before she takes herself to task for pride…and finds Mr. Darcy to have ‘no immodest prejudice” she is clearly a woman worth emulating.
I was a mother and wife when I discovered Gift from The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne had overcome incredible challenges in her life and still, she had this settled, calm core that cut to the most basic and fulfilling natures of womenkind. Her book is not fiction, but it did inspire me to create the characters in The Shell Keeper: strong women-whether they knew it or not-with character to spare and the willingness to put themselves out there, in the name of friendship. As a result, they empower both themselves and each other.
I hope that I can live up to all of these wise and wonderful women. I think as long as I’m willing to learn, I have a chance! Do you have fictional friendships that have stayed with you and inspire you still? If so, please share-I’d love to hear about them!