The most memorable characters tend to be the protagonists. However, books are far more engrossing when their supporting characters are as realistic, complex and engaging. Per definition, secondary characters are not the focus of the main storyline, but they are still essential for our enjoyment of a story.
Since writing my first post about my favourite supporting characters, around four years ago, I’ve discovered a few more who are as remarkable. Daphne du Maurier created three of them, which is unsurprising considering her talent.
Richard Grenville – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier
Although Richard Grenville isn’t the protagonist of The King’s General, he is a critical character in the story. Honor Harris, the protagonist, explains why she fell in love with him. Their interactions, particularly at the beginning of the book, are amusing, charming and captivating. His actions are both kind and shameful. He is sarcastic, wild and careless with his finances.
Maureen – The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
The mother of the most feared gangster in Cork, Maureen is a 59-year-old woman who accidentally killed a man in her apartment. She is witty in a peculiar manner. The way she tries to come to terms with her past is moving and funny. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the sequel to The Glorious Heresies, The Blood Miracles, nowhere near as much, but Maureen’s interactions with Ryan are some of the highlights of that book too.
Jem Merlyn – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Jem is the estranged brother of Joss Merlyn, Jamaica Inn’s landlord and uncle of the protagonist of this Daphne du Maurier novel, Mary Yellan. He is frank, daring and self-assured. His first interaction with Mary is incredible, partly thanks to his characteristic sardonic tone.
Mrs Danvers – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Manderley’s housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, is an unforgettable character because of her unhealthy obsession with Rebecca, whose death she hasn’t overcome. She continued to worship her and recalled her as superior to the timid narrator of this extraordinary novel.
Patience – The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Being the wife of Prince Chivalry, Patience is a member of the royal family of the Six Duchies. Despite not being constantly present throughout the three books in this fantasy series (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest), her personality makes her a noteworthy character. She is far more resourceful and intelligent than she seems at first, and her concern for Fitz, her husband’s bastard son and protagonist of the series, is endearing.
Have you read any of the books mentioned? Who is your favourite supporting character? Tell me in the comments!