To celebrate Feminist Book Fortnight (9th-23rd May), we asked our authors to share some of their favourite feminist heroes, either from fiction or real life. Read on to find out about some amazing women (and men!), and pick up some fantastic book recommendations at the same time!
Romance is actually very much a feminist genre – one where women claim agency over their lives and their hearts! One of my favourite heroines is Linnea from LaVyrle Spencer’s Years (LaVyrle is my all-time fave author!). She’s only eighteen, yet she gets her teacher’s certificate, leaves her comfortable city life to teach in a one room school in a very small rural community, and defies everyone in order to fight for the man she loves – who is twice her age. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book.
My favourite feminist heroine has to be Claire from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series – a World War Two army nurse who eventually becomes a respected surgeon but not before going back in time to the 18th-century and falling passionately in love with Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. She’s smart, strong, resourceful, fierce and utterly fearless. Seriously, Jamie should be so lucky!
With everyone’s feminism their own (which is AMAZING!) I offer up my favourite heroine. Summer Glau as River Song from Joss Whedon’s Firefly. A ‘troubled walking weapon’ whose kick-ass action scenes were balletic and beautiful – putting literal strength in femininity.
I am an unabashed Lizzie Bennet fan. Who else would tell Mr Darcy to stick his high falutin’ attitude in a pipe? She loves her family with such fervour and pride and, more to the point, has enough respect for herself to prefer to be alone rather than in a horrid, loveless marriage that would drain away her very spirit. Team Lizzie Bennet all the way!!!! (And really, team Jane Austen!!!!)
Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Because she gives Benedick as good as she gets. Because she says this: ‘I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.’ And ends with this: ‘I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.’ Not only is she fierce, but there’s an HEA. And that’s something I can’t read enough of….
Any hero who’s aware of the challenges women face in society and who’s sensitive to it goes into my Hero Hall of Fame. A recent favourite is Zaf Ansari from Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint, Dani Brown (out 23 June), who reads romance novels (!) and completely respects and adores Dani’s agency and power.
I think, in order to not be cliché, I’ll pick Dona from Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne DuMaurier. I love how Dona confronts the pirate captain who sails up her estuary, I love how she leaves her tiring husband behind in London with his silly friends when she’s had enough and packs the children off to the country. I love how she sails the crew against her own husband’s gang of nobles who are going to eradicate smuggling etc. from the coast. Best of all, I love how she keeps all her guests at the dinner table until midnight so that her lover (the pirate) can escape to sea. This is one of my favorite books!
In 1995 my teenage daughter attended a Pearl Jam concert at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. When she got home, she mentioned that the concert included speeches by “some lady.” My eyes widened in awe. “Gloria Steinem?” It was, and she’d had no idea. How had I failed?