Memorable characters

Loretta_5_1        From Loretta:
      
      Since LORD PERFECT came out, I’ve noticed an interesting and highly gratifying tendency in the emails readers send me.  The most FAQ is, “Are Peregrine and Olivia going to have their own story?”
      This makes me happy because it indicates that I’ve not only created some memorable characters, but actual readers are ready to pay actual money to read an actual whole book all about these characters.  For those of you who have not paid actual money to read LORD PERFECT:  Peregrine and Olivia are the young persons who cause so much trouble for His Perfectionship and The Most Notorious Woman in England. 
      Funny thing is, my favorite character in the Carsington brothers series is Marigold the heroic mongoose of MR. IMPOSSIBLE.  But I just don’t see her carrying a book of her own.
      This matter of characters got me thinking about the discussion that’s gone on this week regarding history and how much of it readers want.
      Like the other Wenches, I do a great deal of research.  I love doing it.  But only a small fraction of my impressive learning appears in the book.  For me, historical detail has to be doing something, not just sitting there like a stage set.  One of the main ways I use it is to reveal character.  The way a character responds to her culture, her environment, tells us something about her.  Daphne of MR. IMPOSSIBLE has claustrophobia.  Imagine what it would be like for her to crawl through the dark, narrow passages of a pyramid.  What would make her do the thing she most fears?  And what does her doing it tell us about her character?  (By the way, for a hilarious spoof of this book, check out the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels’ Thumbnail Theater.)
      I realized that in my own reading, what distinguishes memorable characters from others is the way they confront, fight, conform, or succumb to the world about them.  The clearer that world is to me, the clearer the character is.  Some characters’ ways of responding to their world have affected me so strongly that I’ve used them as starting points for my own books.
      Today, in the interests of not sounding like a broken record, I’ll skip Dickens.
      How about Becky Sharp of VANITY FAIR?  But how about that aggravating Amelia?  How many times did I want to shake her and say, “Wake up and smell the coffee?”  Whenever I create a clear-eyed heroine who won’t take crap from the hero–or any other man–I’m reacting to characters like Amelia.  At the same time, I’m giving the Becky Sharps of the world credit for surviving in a time and culture that doesn’t approve of uppity, ambitious women, and rejoices in their downfall.
      What about Dorothea in MIDDLEMARCH, trapped in the circumstances of birth, limited education, and the narrow choices available to women?  Her stupid marriage made me so crazy that I gave the same stupid marriage to my heroine of MR. IMPOSSIBLE–but I changed the heroine.  I made her smarter and braver than poor Dorothea with her “jewel box education.”  And I gave her a much better second chance at love, I think, than Dorothea’s.
      Do we notice a theme here?  Bad choices in the husband department?
      However, if I were true, true, true to the research, I couldn’t let all of my heroines live happily ever after in an enlightened, monogamous relationship.  The double standard was still going strong.  Any other standard was, to all intents and purposes, unheard of.  And women were viewed by men as lesser beings.  They still are, in all too many places.
      But I’m writing romances, not historical novels.  For a dose of what to do with history in another genre, I will turn to George MacDonald Fraser’s dirty, rotten scoundrel Harry Flashman of the FLASHMAN series.  These stories practically define politically incorrect.  But I love them.  I love Harry Flashman.  Part of his charm is that he knows what he is and admits it.  And somewhere in the back of my mind is the thought, “Could I ever turn a Harry Flashman kind of guy into a hero?”  Hmmmm.  Fraser uses history in every possible way:  to reveal character, to skewer hypocrisy and stupidity and folly, to enlighten, to shock…oh, let me count the ways.

Then there’s Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin, and Diana Villiers in the Patrick O’Brian series.

Lindsey Davis’s Roman era private eye Marcus Didius Falco–one of the top historical mystery series, in my opinion, though there are lots and lots of excellent ones.
     I have other favorite characters, too, though not all fit into the historical detail-gives-them-dimension thesis.  Some memorable characters are simply brilliant inventions, part of the unique world the author’s created–and I envy those authors.
      DEATH and the Luggage in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. 
      P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves.  And Bertie Wooster.
      There are more, of course, but why should I hog the blog?
      
      What do you think makes a memorable character?  What makes a make-believe person stick in your mind long after you’ve finished the book?  If you had to make a Top Ten list, which characters would be on it?

60 thoughts on “Memorable characters”

  1. Oh, top ten memorable characters – love things like this. Hmm. Who?
    Francis Crawford of Lymond in the Game of Kings series by Dorothy Dunnett
    Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy L. Sayers
    Lord Dain in Lord of Scoundrels (I’m not just being nice! And I’ve got to say Rupert C almost made it, he’s so gorgeous)
    Christian in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm (although ST in The Prince of Midnight is pretty special too)
    Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
    Jane in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
    Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice
    Natasha and Prince Andrei in War and Peace (I know that’s cheating – I now have 11!)

    Reply
  2. Oh, top ten memorable characters – love things like this. Hmm. Who?
    Francis Crawford of Lymond in the Game of Kings series by Dorothy Dunnett
    Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy L. Sayers
    Lord Dain in Lord of Scoundrels (I’m not just being nice! And I’ve got to say Rupert C almost made it, he’s so gorgeous)
    Christian in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm (although ST in The Prince of Midnight is pretty special too)
    Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
    Jane in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
    Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice
    Natasha and Prince Andrei in War and Peace (I know that’s cheating – I now have 11!)

    Reply
  3. Oh, top ten memorable characters – love things like this. Hmm. Who?
    Francis Crawford of Lymond in the Game of Kings series by Dorothy Dunnett
    Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy L. Sayers
    Lord Dain in Lord of Scoundrels (I’m not just being nice! And I’ve got to say Rupert C almost made it, he’s so gorgeous)
    Christian in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm (although ST in The Prince of Midnight is pretty special too)
    Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
    Jane in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre
    Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
    Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice
    Natasha and Prince Andrei in War and Peace (I know that’s cheating – I now have 11!)

    Reply
  4. Flashman forever! What makes him bearable is the way he loves his wife, the gorgeous, empty-headed Elspeth–and she’s no more monogamous than he is. 🙂 She’s the perfect balance for Sir Harry and his philandering, cowardly, but amazingly lucky life path. I can’t really imagine him as a romantic hero without turning him into someone else. (Hmmm, now that I think of it, there may be just a touch of Flashman in your Basil, hero of THE ENGLISH WITCH. Time for me to reread that book…)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. Flashman forever! What makes him bearable is the way he loves his wife, the gorgeous, empty-headed Elspeth–and she’s no more monogamous than he is. 🙂 She’s the perfect balance for Sir Harry and his philandering, cowardly, but amazingly lucky life path. I can’t really imagine him as a romantic hero without turning him into someone else. (Hmmm, now that I think of it, there may be just a touch of Flashman in your Basil, hero of THE ENGLISH WITCH. Time for me to reread that book…)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  6. Flashman forever! What makes him bearable is the way he loves his wife, the gorgeous, empty-headed Elspeth–and she’s no more monogamous than he is. 🙂 She’s the perfect balance for Sir Harry and his philandering, cowardly, but amazingly lucky life path. I can’t really imagine him as a romantic hero without turning him into someone else. (Hmmm, now that I think of it, there may be just a touch of Flashman in your Basil, hero of THE ENGLISH WITCH. Time for me to reread that book…)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  7. From Sherrie:
    Oh dear. I love top ten anythings. Trouble is, I can never stick to the rules. Either I can’t think of ten anythings, or I can’t stop at ten. In this case, I’m going to have to make a rule for myself. I won’t try to list any characters from Wench books. For one thing, I haven’t read them all. (group gasp) For another, I’ve led a tragically deprived life and there were actually a couple Wenches I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. So it would be unfair. So I won’t. So there.
    This is very much like those dreams where you are in school or at work and suddenly realize you are naked. Telling my top ten anythings is like exposing myelf. But here goes. I can only think of 6 off the top of my head:
    Justin Alistair, Duke of Avon
    Francis Crawford of Lymond
    Jamie Fraser of Outlander series
    Indiana Jones
    Captain Jack Sparrow
    Harry Potter
    There. I’ve exposed myself. Loretta, you asked what made a character stick in my mind. Often, it is the character’s sense of honor. I am a sucker for people who stick by their beliefs and uphold their honor, even if it brings them pain. Through pain comes growth, and I love watching the character work his or her way through that pain and becoming a better person for it.
    I love black sheep and reluctant heroes. I love silkily dangerous heroes. I love heroines who are super intelligent and know how to push the rules to the limit to get what they want and still remain a lady. I love outrageous heroes. I love sexy villains in one book who become the hero of the next.
    Well, that’s all I can think of for now. The minute I post this, I’ll think of twenty more favorite characters I should have mentioned. I’ll try not to come back and post a P.S. because that would make me a Blog-Hog-With-an-Opinion-About-Everything-Because-I Think-I-Am-So-Fascinating-Even-When-Nobody-Else-Cares. Besides, I detest Blog Hogs. (g)
    Sherrie

    Reply
  8. From Sherrie:
    Oh dear. I love top ten anythings. Trouble is, I can never stick to the rules. Either I can’t think of ten anythings, or I can’t stop at ten. In this case, I’m going to have to make a rule for myself. I won’t try to list any characters from Wench books. For one thing, I haven’t read them all. (group gasp) For another, I’ve led a tragically deprived life and there were actually a couple Wenches I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. So it would be unfair. So I won’t. So there.
    This is very much like those dreams where you are in school or at work and suddenly realize you are naked. Telling my top ten anythings is like exposing myelf. But here goes. I can only think of 6 off the top of my head:
    Justin Alistair, Duke of Avon
    Francis Crawford of Lymond
    Jamie Fraser of Outlander series
    Indiana Jones
    Captain Jack Sparrow
    Harry Potter
    There. I’ve exposed myself. Loretta, you asked what made a character stick in my mind. Often, it is the character’s sense of honor. I am a sucker for people who stick by their beliefs and uphold their honor, even if it brings them pain. Through pain comes growth, and I love watching the character work his or her way through that pain and becoming a better person for it.
    I love black sheep and reluctant heroes. I love silkily dangerous heroes. I love heroines who are super intelligent and know how to push the rules to the limit to get what they want and still remain a lady. I love outrageous heroes. I love sexy villains in one book who become the hero of the next.
    Well, that’s all I can think of for now. The minute I post this, I’ll think of twenty more favorite characters I should have mentioned. I’ll try not to come back and post a P.S. because that would make me a Blog-Hog-With-an-Opinion-About-Everything-Because-I Think-I-Am-So-Fascinating-Even-When-Nobody-Else-Cares. Besides, I detest Blog Hogs. (g)
    Sherrie

    Reply
  9. From Sherrie:
    Oh dear. I love top ten anythings. Trouble is, I can never stick to the rules. Either I can’t think of ten anythings, or I can’t stop at ten. In this case, I’m going to have to make a rule for myself. I won’t try to list any characters from Wench books. For one thing, I haven’t read them all. (group gasp) For another, I’ve led a tragically deprived life and there were actually a couple Wenches I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. So it would be unfair. So I won’t. So there.
    This is very much like those dreams where you are in school or at work and suddenly realize you are naked. Telling my top ten anythings is like exposing myelf. But here goes. I can only think of 6 off the top of my head:
    Justin Alistair, Duke of Avon
    Francis Crawford of Lymond
    Jamie Fraser of Outlander series
    Indiana Jones
    Captain Jack Sparrow
    Harry Potter
    There. I’ve exposed myself. Loretta, you asked what made a character stick in my mind. Often, it is the character’s sense of honor. I am a sucker for people who stick by their beliefs and uphold their honor, even if it brings them pain. Through pain comes growth, and I love watching the character work his or her way through that pain and becoming a better person for it.
    I love black sheep and reluctant heroes. I love silkily dangerous heroes. I love heroines who are super intelligent and know how to push the rules to the limit to get what they want and still remain a lady. I love outrageous heroes. I love sexy villains in one book who become the hero of the next.
    Well, that’s all I can think of for now. The minute I post this, I’ll think of twenty more favorite characters I should have mentioned. I’ll try not to come back and post a P.S. because that would make me a Blog-Hog-With-an-Opinion-About-Everything-Because-I Think-I-Am-So-Fascinating-Even-When-Nobody-Else-Cares. Besides, I detest Blog Hogs. (g)
    Sherrie

    Reply
  10. OK, Sherrie has given me the courage to post. Thank you, Sherrie!
    I too have lived a painfully sheltered life. While I was living it, it was not painful. The pain came much later, but I digress….
    My top ten characters, minus one… (Which means I can’t think of ten. Sheltered life, ya know.)
    1 & 2. Troi and Riker in Peter David’s Imzadi.
    3. & 4. William Tucker and Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
    5. Hermione from Harry Potter.
    6. Dominic Renbourne from The Wild Child.
    7 & 8. King Louis XIV and his twin in Man in the Iron Mask.
    9. Shawn Farrell (the healer) on the 4400.
    As for what I like in book characters. Give me a heroine that bucks the system, a hero that will stand by her side and a gorgeous, sexy villain you wish you could take to bed, but spit in his eye instead. 🙂
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  11. OK, Sherrie has given me the courage to post. Thank you, Sherrie!
    I too have lived a painfully sheltered life. While I was living it, it was not painful. The pain came much later, but I digress….
    My top ten characters, minus one… (Which means I can’t think of ten. Sheltered life, ya know.)
    1 & 2. Troi and Riker in Peter David’s Imzadi.
    3. & 4. William Tucker and Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
    5. Hermione from Harry Potter.
    6. Dominic Renbourne from The Wild Child.
    7 & 8. King Louis XIV and his twin in Man in the Iron Mask.
    9. Shawn Farrell (the healer) on the 4400.
    As for what I like in book characters. Give me a heroine that bucks the system, a hero that will stand by her side and a gorgeous, sexy villain you wish you could take to bed, but spit in his eye instead. 🙂
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  12. OK, Sherrie has given me the courage to post. Thank you, Sherrie!
    I too have lived a painfully sheltered life. While I was living it, it was not painful. The pain came much later, but I digress….
    My top ten characters, minus one… (Which means I can’t think of ten. Sheltered life, ya know.)
    1 & 2. Troi and Riker in Peter David’s Imzadi.
    3. & 4. William Tucker and Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
    5. Hermione from Harry Potter.
    6. Dominic Renbourne from The Wild Child.
    7 & 8. King Louis XIV and his twin in Man in the Iron Mask.
    9. Shawn Farrell (the healer) on the 4400.
    As for what I like in book characters. Give me a heroine that bucks the system, a hero that will stand by her side and a gorgeous, sexy villain you wish you could take to bed, but spit in his eye instead. 🙂
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  13. Let’s see, my top ten (omitting those already named):
    Sherlock Holmes
    Beau Geste
    Sir Percy Blakeney aka The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Melrose Plant (you can have Richard Jury) in Martha Grimes’s books
    J.D. Robb’s Roarke
    Mr. Spock
    Mr. Darcy
    Akela in THE JUNGLE BOOKS (nobody specified “human,” did they?)
    Oh, hell, I’ll break down and include a couple of the Wenches’ guys–Edith’s Warwick Jones and Arden Lyons

    Reply
  14. Let’s see, my top ten (omitting those already named):
    Sherlock Holmes
    Beau Geste
    Sir Percy Blakeney aka The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Melrose Plant (you can have Richard Jury) in Martha Grimes’s books
    J.D. Robb’s Roarke
    Mr. Spock
    Mr. Darcy
    Akela in THE JUNGLE BOOKS (nobody specified “human,” did they?)
    Oh, hell, I’ll break down and include a couple of the Wenches’ guys–Edith’s Warwick Jones and Arden Lyons

    Reply
  15. Let’s see, my top ten (omitting those already named):
    Sherlock Holmes
    Beau Geste
    Sir Percy Blakeney aka The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Melrose Plant (you can have Richard Jury) in Martha Grimes’s books
    J.D. Robb’s Roarke
    Mr. Spock
    Mr. Darcy
    Akela in THE JUNGLE BOOKS (nobody specified “human,” did they?)
    Oh, hell, I’ll break down and include a couple of the Wenches’ guys–Edith’s Warwick Jones and Arden Lyons

    Reply
  16. Oops! Just noticed that Darcy WAS mentioned after all, so I’ll add the wizard Numair Salmalin in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals Quartet (WILD MAGIC, WOLF-SPEAKER, EMPEROR MAGE, REALMS OF THE GODS).

    Reply
  17. Oops! Just noticed that Darcy WAS mentioned after all, so I’ll add the wizard Numair Salmalin in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals Quartet (WILD MAGIC, WOLF-SPEAKER, EMPEROR MAGE, REALMS OF THE GODS).

    Reply
  18. Oops! Just noticed that Darcy WAS mentioned after all, so I’ll add the wizard Numair Salmalin in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals Quartet (WILD MAGIC, WOLF-SPEAKER, EMPEROR MAGE, REALMS OF THE GODS).

    Reply
  19. I have problems with a top 100, so I won’t say these are my
    “top ten,” but they are certainly among the characters I find most memorable. I also chose to exclude any already mentioned, and since mostly male characters have been named this far, my list is all female characters.
    Beatrice (Shakespeare, Much ado About Nothing)
    Rosa Coldfield (Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!)
    Maggie Concannon (N. Roberts, Born in Fire)
    Anne Elliott (Austen, Persuasion)
    Julia Mortimer (Welty, Losing Battles)
    Scarlett O’Hara (Mitchell, Gone with the Wind)
    Ivy Rowe (Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies)
    Diana Westmount, Countess of
    Arradale (Jo Bev, Devilish)
    Alys Weston (MJP, The Rake)
    Wife of Bath (Chaucer, CT)

    Reply
  20. I have problems with a top 100, so I won’t say these are my
    “top ten,” but they are certainly among the characters I find most memorable. I also chose to exclude any already mentioned, and since mostly male characters have been named this far, my list is all female characters.
    Beatrice (Shakespeare, Much ado About Nothing)
    Rosa Coldfield (Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!)
    Maggie Concannon (N. Roberts, Born in Fire)
    Anne Elliott (Austen, Persuasion)
    Julia Mortimer (Welty, Losing Battles)
    Scarlett O’Hara (Mitchell, Gone with the Wind)
    Ivy Rowe (Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies)
    Diana Westmount, Countess of
    Arradale (Jo Bev, Devilish)
    Alys Weston (MJP, The Rake)
    Wife of Bath (Chaucer, CT)

    Reply
  21. I have problems with a top 100, so I won’t say these are my
    “top ten,” but they are certainly among the characters I find most memorable. I also chose to exclude any already mentioned, and since mostly male characters have been named this far, my list is all female characters.
    Beatrice (Shakespeare, Much ado About Nothing)
    Rosa Coldfield (Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!)
    Maggie Concannon (N. Roberts, Born in Fire)
    Anne Elliott (Austen, Persuasion)
    Julia Mortimer (Welty, Losing Battles)
    Scarlett O’Hara (Mitchell, Gone with the Wind)
    Ivy Rowe (Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies)
    Diana Westmount, Countess of
    Arradale (Jo Bev, Devilish)
    Alys Weston (MJP, The Rake)
    Wife of Bath (Chaucer, CT)

    Reply
  22. I have lots of favorite fictional characters, but two who I find the most compelling. The first is Francis Crawford of Lymond. You guys all know why. The second is William Monk in the Anne Perry mystery series. I love how he lost his memory and only discovers who he is over the course of many, many books, and doesn’t always like what he learns. That journey of self-discovery continues to fascinate me.

    Reply
  23. I have lots of favorite fictional characters, but two who I find the most compelling. The first is Francis Crawford of Lymond. You guys all know why. The second is William Monk in the Anne Perry mystery series. I love how he lost his memory and only discovers who he is over the course of many, many books, and doesn’t always like what he learns. That journey of self-discovery continues to fascinate me.

    Reply
  24. I have lots of favorite fictional characters, but two who I find the most compelling. The first is Francis Crawford of Lymond. You guys all know why. The second is William Monk in the Anne Perry mystery series. I love how he lost his memory and only discovers who he is over the course of many, many books, and doesn’t always like what he learns. That journey of self-discovery continues to fascinate me.

    Reply
  25. I guess what makes characters compelling for me is the way their character grows through the attempt to negotiate their intelligence and unconventionality with finding a place in the world. Though there are many more, the first 10 that come to mind are:
    Jo March (Little Women)
    Elizabeth Bennett
    Claudius (I Claudius-Graves)
    Harriet Vane (Sayers)
    Sherlock Holmes
    Amelia Peabody (Elizabeth Peters)
    Mary Russell (Laurie King)
    Reggie Davenport (The Rake- MJP)
    Penelope Featherington (Julia Quinn)
    Beth Armitage (An Unwilling Bride- Jo)
    I’m sure tomorrow I’ll think “how could I have left out……”
    Merry

    Reply
  26. I guess what makes characters compelling for me is the way their character grows through the attempt to negotiate their intelligence and unconventionality with finding a place in the world. Though there are many more, the first 10 that come to mind are:
    Jo March (Little Women)
    Elizabeth Bennett
    Claudius (I Claudius-Graves)
    Harriet Vane (Sayers)
    Sherlock Holmes
    Amelia Peabody (Elizabeth Peters)
    Mary Russell (Laurie King)
    Reggie Davenport (The Rake- MJP)
    Penelope Featherington (Julia Quinn)
    Beth Armitage (An Unwilling Bride- Jo)
    I’m sure tomorrow I’ll think “how could I have left out……”
    Merry

    Reply
  27. I guess what makes characters compelling for me is the way their character grows through the attempt to negotiate their intelligence and unconventionality with finding a place in the world. Though there are many more, the first 10 that come to mind are:
    Jo March (Little Women)
    Elizabeth Bennett
    Claudius (I Claudius-Graves)
    Harriet Vane (Sayers)
    Sherlock Holmes
    Amelia Peabody (Elizabeth Peters)
    Mary Russell (Laurie King)
    Reggie Davenport (The Rake- MJP)
    Penelope Featherington (Julia Quinn)
    Beth Armitage (An Unwilling Bride- Jo)
    I’m sure tomorrow I’ll think “how could I have left out……”
    Merry

    Reply
  28. I’m so glad I asked the question, because the answers are so interesting. And it’s amazing, with so many different personalities and tastes responding here, how many times I agree with the choices. This is why I couldn’t make a Top Ten list of my own.
    Nina, that is me at about age 5. It’s my current ID–like Sherrie’s lady with the whip. Love her glasses, BTW, Sherrie.

    Reply
  29. I’m so glad I asked the question, because the answers are so interesting. And it’s amazing, with so many different personalities and tastes responding here, how many times I agree with the choices. This is why I couldn’t make a Top Ten list of my own.
    Nina, that is me at about age 5. It’s my current ID–like Sherrie’s lady with the whip. Love her glasses, BTW, Sherrie.

    Reply
  30. I’m so glad I asked the question, because the answers are so interesting. And it’s amazing, with so many different personalities and tastes responding here, how many times I agree with the choices. This is why I couldn’t make a Top Ten list of my own.
    Nina, that is me at about age 5. It’s my current ID–like Sherrie’s lady with the whip. Love her glasses, BTW, Sherrie.

    Reply
  31. I have to say, I’m with Loretta: as much as I love Olivia and Peregrine (and I would adore books about each…or both), the devoted, patient, practical Marigold is my favorite.
    Rupert is my favorite of Loretta’s heroes, able to turf Jack (from The Devil’s Delilah) out of first place. But all of her characters live in my memory.
    As for a general top 10, I can come at that from so many directions that it’s hard to come up with a list. Most fascinating to read is one list; most resonant personally is a different list. Series characters whose books I could read in one fell swoop without getting sick of them is a third list. See what I mean?

    Reply
  32. I have to say, I’m with Loretta: as much as I love Olivia and Peregrine (and I would adore books about each…or both), the devoted, patient, practical Marigold is my favorite.
    Rupert is my favorite of Loretta’s heroes, able to turf Jack (from The Devil’s Delilah) out of first place. But all of her characters live in my memory.
    As for a general top 10, I can come at that from so many directions that it’s hard to come up with a list. Most fascinating to read is one list; most resonant personally is a different list. Series characters whose books I could read in one fell swoop without getting sick of them is a third list. See what I mean?

    Reply
  33. I have to say, I’m with Loretta: as much as I love Olivia and Peregrine (and I would adore books about each…or both), the devoted, patient, practical Marigold is my favorite.
    Rupert is my favorite of Loretta’s heroes, able to turf Jack (from The Devil’s Delilah) out of first place. But all of her characters live in my memory.
    As for a general top 10, I can come at that from so many directions that it’s hard to come up with a list. Most fascinating to read is one list; most resonant personally is a different list. Series characters whose books I could read in one fell swoop without getting sick of them is a third list. See what I mean?

    Reply
  34. Hi, Katy! Thanks for stopping by–and especially for stopping by to say such nice things about my characters. I like all your lists. Maybe you could pick a few from each group???

    Reply
  35. Hi, Katy! Thanks for stopping by–and especially for stopping by to say such nice things about my characters. I like all your lists. Maybe you could pick a few from each group???

    Reply
  36. Hi, Katy! Thanks for stopping by–and especially for stopping by to say such nice things about my characters. I like all your lists. Maybe you could pick a few from each group???

    Reply
  37. Late to the party, but I can’t resist playing anyway. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order…
    1. Lord Peter Wimsey
    2. Phedre no Delaunay, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series (though it was a tough choice between her and Joscelin–he currently noses out Lord Peter for “fictional man I most wish was A) real and B) mine”)
    3. Richard Sharpe
    4. Stephen Maturin (I *like* Aubrey better, but Maturin is more memorable)
    5. Jill Pole, Chronicles of Narnia
    6. Marcus Didius Falco (I love that series, too!)
    7. Elizabeth Bennett
    8. Philippa Talbot from Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede
    9. Temeraire the dragon from Naomi Novik’s series
    10. Alick Gilchrist/Glenroy, hero of the Jennie trilogy by Elisabeth Ogilvie. (And I think I’m the only person in the world who’s ever read these–I’ve never met anyone else who has.)
    Most of my memorable characters are from series, which is why romance characters are conspicuous by their absence. Series are one of the joys of my reading life, be they doorstop fantasy tomes like the Kushiel series or 20 books or so about the same character like Sharpe, Falco, or Aubrey/Maturin.

    Reply
  38. Late to the party, but I can’t resist playing anyway. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order…
    1. Lord Peter Wimsey
    2. Phedre no Delaunay, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series (though it was a tough choice between her and Joscelin–he currently noses out Lord Peter for “fictional man I most wish was A) real and B) mine”)
    3. Richard Sharpe
    4. Stephen Maturin (I *like* Aubrey better, but Maturin is more memorable)
    5. Jill Pole, Chronicles of Narnia
    6. Marcus Didius Falco (I love that series, too!)
    7. Elizabeth Bennett
    8. Philippa Talbot from Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede
    9. Temeraire the dragon from Naomi Novik’s series
    10. Alick Gilchrist/Glenroy, hero of the Jennie trilogy by Elisabeth Ogilvie. (And I think I’m the only person in the world who’s ever read these–I’ve never met anyone else who has.)
    Most of my memorable characters are from series, which is why romance characters are conspicuous by their absence. Series are one of the joys of my reading life, be they doorstop fantasy tomes like the Kushiel series or 20 books or so about the same character like Sharpe, Falco, or Aubrey/Maturin.

    Reply
  39. Late to the party, but I can’t resist playing anyway. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order…
    1. Lord Peter Wimsey
    2. Phedre no Delaunay, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series (though it was a tough choice between her and Joscelin–he currently noses out Lord Peter for “fictional man I most wish was A) real and B) mine”)
    3. Richard Sharpe
    4. Stephen Maturin (I *like* Aubrey better, but Maturin is more memorable)
    5. Jill Pole, Chronicles of Narnia
    6. Marcus Didius Falco (I love that series, too!)
    7. Elizabeth Bennett
    8. Philippa Talbot from Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede
    9. Temeraire the dragon from Naomi Novik’s series
    10. Alick Gilchrist/Glenroy, hero of the Jennie trilogy by Elisabeth Ogilvie. (And I think I’m the only person in the world who’s ever read these–I’ve never met anyone else who has.)
    Most of my memorable characters are from series, which is why romance characters are conspicuous by their absence. Series are one of the joys of my reading life, be they doorstop fantasy tomes like the Kushiel series or 20 books or so about the same character like Sharpe, Falco, or Aubrey/Maturin.

    Reply
  40. Here’s a challenge. Can anyone take one compelling character from a romance novel and go into depth about why the character is compelling. Why more compelling than other characters– is it the psychological depth, the oddity of the character, your identification with the character, humor, dialogue, something else about how the character is written? or as George III says what? what? …..
    Merry

    Reply
  41. Here’s a challenge. Can anyone take one compelling character from a romance novel and go into depth about why the character is compelling. Why more compelling than other characters– is it the psychological depth, the oddity of the character, your identification with the character, humor, dialogue, something else about how the character is written? or as George III says what? what? …..
    Merry

    Reply
  42. Here’s a challenge. Can anyone take one compelling character from a romance novel and go into depth about why the character is compelling. Why more compelling than other characters– is it the psychological depth, the oddity of the character, your identification with the character, humor, dialogue, something else about how the character is written? or as George III says what? what? …..
    Merry

    Reply
  43. Susan W., those are about the only Ogilvies I HAVEN’T read!
    I’m going to cheat and add the protagonists of the Liaden Universe books–Val Con, Miri, Shan, Priscilla, Pat Rin, and, of course, the Turtles! Especially Edger and Sheather.
    Here’s a blog suggestion: We’ve talked about books that have given us a great deal. Anyone ever been HARMED by a book? Besides me?

    Reply
  44. Susan W., those are about the only Ogilvies I HAVEN’T read!
    I’m going to cheat and add the protagonists of the Liaden Universe books–Val Con, Miri, Shan, Priscilla, Pat Rin, and, of course, the Turtles! Especially Edger and Sheather.
    Here’s a blog suggestion: We’ve talked about books that have given us a great deal. Anyone ever been HARMED by a book? Besides me?

    Reply
  45. Susan W., those are about the only Ogilvies I HAVEN’T read!
    I’m going to cheat and add the protagonists of the Liaden Universe books–Val Con, Miri, Shan, Priscilla, Pat Rin, and, of course, the Turtles! Especially Edger and Sheather.
    Here’s a blog suggestion: We’ve talked about books that have given us a great deal. Anyone ever been HARMED by a book? Besides me?

    Reply
  46. Hmm. Most memorable characters in thousands of books?
    Not necessarily in order except this is how they came to me:
    Tabitha Day in “Dawn’s Early Light” by Elswyth Thane
    Amelia Peabody of “Crocodile on a Sandbank” and more than a dozen others by Elizabeth Peters
    Radcliffe “Father of Curses”
    Emerson of the same series
    Walter “Ramses” Emerson starting with “The Curse of the Pharaoh”
    Prince Boris Pirov of “The Eagle and the Dove” by Ruth Freeman Solomon
    Luke Ansell of “Celia Garth” by Gwen Bristow
    Vivian Lacy of the same book
    Ruark Beauchamp of “Shanna” by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
    Lachlan Mackenzie, Duke of Ross in “Highland Rogue” by Arnette Lamb
    Merlin “Wiz” Lambourne from “Midsummer Moon” by Laura Kinsale
    I didn’t want to mention any current ones but Elizabeth Peters will hardly see this and I had another one on the tip of my tongue for number 10 but it was suddenly gone. Merlin is, for me at least, a truly marvelous creation. BTW, it’s a she.

    Reply
  47. Hmm. Most memorable characters in thousands of books?
    Not necessarily in order except this is how they came to me:
    Tabitha Day in “Dawn’s Early Light” by Elswyth Thane
    Amelia Peabody of “Crocodile on a Sandbank” and more than a dozen others by Elizabeth Peters
    Radcliffe “Father of Curses”
    Emerson of the same series
    Walter “Ramses” Emerson starting with “The Curse of the Pharaoh”
    Prince Boris Pirov of “The Eagle and the Dove” by Ruth Freeman Solomon
    Luke Ansell of “Celia Garth” by Gwen Bristow
    Vivian Lacy of the same book
    Ruark Beauchamp of “Shanna” by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
    Lachlan Mackenzie, Duke of Ross in “Highland Rogue” by Arnette Lamb
    Merlin “Wiz” Lambourne from “Midsummer Moon” by Laura Kinsale
    I didn’t want to mention any current ones but Elizabeth Peters will hardly see this and I had another one on the tip of my tongue for number 10 but it was suddenly gone. Merlin is, for me at least, a truly marvelous creation. BTW, it’s a she.

    Reply
  48. Hmm. Most memorable characters in thousands of books?
    Not necessarily in order except this is how they came to me:
    Tabitha Day in “Dawn’s Early Light” by Elswyth Thane
    Amelia Peabody of “Crocodile on a Sandbank” and more than a dozen others by Elizabeth Peters
    Radcliffe “Father of Curses”
    Emerson of the same series
    Walter “Ramses” Emerson starting with “The Curse of the Pharaoh”
    Prince Boris Pirov of “The Eagle and the Dove” by Ruth Freeman Solomon
    Luke Ansell of “Celia Garth” by Gwen Bristow
    Vivian Lacy of the same book
    Ruark Beauchamp of “Shanna” by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
    Lachlan Mackenzie, Duke of Ross in “Highland Rogue” by Arnette Lamb
    Merlin “Wiz” Lambourne from “Midsummer Moon” by Laura Kinsale
    I didn’t want to mention any current ones but Elizabeth Peters will hardly see this and I had another one on the tip of my tongue for number 10 but it was suddenly gone. Merlin is, for me at least, a truly marvelous creation. BTW, it’s a she.

    Reply
  49. I have no memory for names so won’t even attempt to make a list, but I like Merry’s question–what makes a character memorable?
    Taking the hero of Kinsale’s FLOWER IN THE STORM, I’d say it was his brilliance, and how it was shattered, and how he finally managed to humble himself enough to accept the heroine’s help to the extent that he could again help her. And want to help her. His previous self would never have done that. The drama of such an enormous character arc is very compelling.
    I’m loving the discussion topic, thanks!
    Pat

    Reply
  50. I have no memory for names so won’t even attempt to make a list, but I like Merry’s question–what makes a character memorable?
    Taking the hero of Kinsale’s FLOWER IN THE STORM, I’d say it was his brilliance, and how it was shattered, and how he finally managed to humble himself enough to accept the heroine’s help to the extent that he could again help her. And want to help her. His previous self would never have done that. The drama of such an enormous character arc is very compelling.
    I’m loving the discussion topic, thanks!
    Pat

    Reply
  51. I have no memory for names so won’t even attempt to make a list, but I like Merry’s question–what makes a character memorable?
    Taking the hero of Kinsale’s FLOWER IN THE STORM, I’d say it was his brilliance, and how it was shattered, and how he finally managed to humble himself enough to accept the heroine’s help to the extent that he could again help her. And want to help her. His previous self would never have done that. The drama of such an enormous character arc is very compelling.
    I’m loving the discussion topic, thanks!
    Pat

    Reply
  52. As requested, here are my lists, such as they are…
    Compelling characters (not always likable but you want to read about them anyway): Scarlett O’Hara, and Miles Vorkosigan and Mark Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold). (I drew a major blank on this one, for some reason.)
    Characters I identify with: Sophie Dempsey (Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie); Tilda Goodnight (Faking It, Jennifer Crusie); Daisy Flattery Blaise (The Cinderella Deal, Jennifer Crusie); Beowulf Malloren (Jo Beverley); Jo March (Little Women); George Orr (The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin)
    Series characters I don’t get sick of even if I read a bunch of books in the series right in a row: Miles Vorkosigan (Vorkosigan series, Lois McMaster Bujold); Deborah Knott (Deborah Knott mysteries, Margaret Maron); Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree (Home Repair is Homicide mysteries, Sarah Graves); Lord Peter Wimsey (Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers).

    Reply
  53. As requested, here are my lists, such as they are…
    Compelling characters (not always likable but you want to read about them anyway): Scarlett O’Hara, and Miles Vorkosigan and Mark Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold). (I drew a major blank on this one, for some reason.)
    Characters I identify with: Sophie Dempsey (Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie); Tilda Goodnight (Faking It, Jennifer Crusie); Daisy Flattery Blaise (The Cinderella Deal, Jennifer Crusie); Beowulf Malloren (Jo Beverley); Jo March (Little Women); George Orr (The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin)
    Series characters I don’t get sick of even if I read a bunch of books in the series right in a row: Miles Vorkosigan (Vorkosigan series, Lois McMaster Bujold); Deborah Knott (Deborah Knott mysteries, Margaret Maron); Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree (Home Repair is Homicide mysteries, Sarah Graves); Lord Peter Wimsey (Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers).

    Reply
  54. As requested, here are my lists, such as they are…
    Compelling characters (not always likable but you want to read about them anyway): Scarlett O’Hara, and Miles Vorkosigan and Mark Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold). (I drew a major blank on this one, for some reason.)
    Characters I identify with: Sophie Dempsey (Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie); Tilda Goodnight (Faking It, Jennifer Crusie); Daisy Flattery Blaise (The Cinderella Deal, Jennifer Crusie); Beowulf Malloren (Jo Beverley); Jo March (Little Women); George Orr (The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin)
    Series characters I don’t get sick of even if I read a bunch of books in the series right in a row: Miles Vorkosigan (Vorkosigan series, Lois McMaster Bujold); Deborah Knott (Deborah Knott mysteries, Margaret Maron); Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree (Home Repair is Homicide mysteries, Sarah Graves); Lord Peter Wimsey (Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers).

    Reply

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