Almost six years ago, I wrote a post about my favourite female characters to celebrate International Women’s Day. Since then, I read various other books whose female characters I found as interesting as the ones I mentioned previously (or in some cases even more). Some of them shine because of their compelling personalities. Others may not have an immediately fascinating temperament, but they stand out thanks to their authenticity. Well-crafted characters can be captivating regardless of their traits.
The seven characters mentioned bellow are part of books from various genres, from fantasy to literary and historical fiction. Some I spent a long time with, as they are featured in series, others just a few days. They all have one thing in common, though. They lingered on in my mind. It is also not surprising that three of the characters were created by Daphne du Maurier, since her talent is well known.
Althea Vestrit – The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb
The younger daughter of Ephron Vestrit, Althea is one of the main characters in Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny, the three books in The Liveship Traders Trilogy by the fantasy writer Robin Hobb. Her family has a liveship called Vivacia and her biggest dream is to be her captain one day. She is wilful and feels restricted by the sexist society she lives in. Although she occasionally makes rash decisions, she reflects on her mistakes. She has her own desires, but can adapt them as the situation around her changes. What she experiences throughout the series is deeply affecting.
Isabella / Lady Trent – The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
The five books in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan delve into how Isabella became a famous naturalist around the world because of her findings about dragons. From the first book in the series, A Natural History of Dragons, until the last, Within the Sanctuary of Wings, she recalls how that came to be. Her adventurous spirit led her to embark on some reckless exploits, but she overcame most of them thanks to her intelligence, while also often showing compassion. Throughout her life, Lady Trent always broke free from what was expected of women and didn’t conform to idiotic stereotypes.
Mary Yellan – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Spirited, strong-minded and curious, Mary Yellan is the impressive protagonist of Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Although she understandably occasionally succumbs to fear, her bravery is undeniable. She often ponders on her attitudes towards other characters, particularly her aunt. Despite having good intentions, she is sometimes too harsh with her.
Honor Harris – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier
The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier takes place during a long period of time, so we get to know Honor in various periods of her life. When she was young, she was bold, rebellious and expressed her opinions without fear. She becomes much more perceptive as she grows older and has to face life-changing challenges.
Mrs de Winter – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The unnamed narrator and protagonist of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier marries Maxim de Winter after meeting him in Monte Carlo. She is an extremely insecure and timid young woman who lives in the shadow of Rebecca, Maxim’s deceased first wife, for most of the novel. She becomes much more confident by the end of the book, though. Thanks to Du Maurier’s amazing skills, despite not having an immediately attention-grabbing personality, she feels relatable considering her circumstances. We get to intimately know her feelings and worries.
Diane – Strike Your Heart by Amélie Nothomb
At the beginning of Strike Your Heart by Amélie Nothomb, Diane hasn’t been born yet. She is, however, the main character in this novella about uncaring and jealous mothers. She has been very perspicacious since a young age. It didn’t take her long to conclude that her mother didn’t have great affection for her, which influenced her outlook on life. Not only is she wise, but she is also serious and single-minded. Despite being considered cold by some, she shows great affection for her grandparents and is caring when others are treated unfairly.
Agnes – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Despite it being a family story, the focus of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is on Agnes. She is the wife of William Shakespeare (who is never mentioned by his name), with whom she has three children (Susanna and the twins Hamnet and Judith). She is resourceful and assertive. Moreover, she believes that she has premonitions. Both her suffering and desperation to keep her children safe are palpable.
What are your favourite female characters? Tell me in the comments!