Thursday, August 14, 2008

Supereminent Heroines

For all the fiction written annually, there are only a handful of heroines who stand out in my mind. 
I am not saying I’ve only come across a few good heroines. On the contrary, I’ve enjoyed many great heroines.

All heroines are reincarnations of a few archetype women, most of whom fall into one of three categories. First, is the totally helpless but lovable Snow White often encountered in early romances, where the story depends on the hero saving the heroine. If you’re old enough, you might remember the beautiful but stuttering virgins of Barbara Cartland’s romances. Next is the girl-next-door heroine exemplified in Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels, or Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. In fantasy, it might be the healer Snake in Vonda McIntyre’s Dream Snake. These heroines are smart women making their own choices but often bound by the limits society sets on them. The third commonly encountered heroine is the in-your-face, self-willed and determined woman who emerged to prominence in fiction after the 1960s. These women take nothing sitting down, whether they sling verbal arrows or throws real daggers such as Arafel the Sidhe, in C.J. Cherryh’s The Dreamstone

However, Besides Snake and Arafel, only a very few have imprinted themselves on my mind. Phillipa in Dorothy Dunnett’s the Lymond Chronicles is one. The reader meets her as a precocious but stubborn twelve-year-old bearing a grudge in The Game of Kings and watches her develop into a wonderful character, an educated, politically savvy woman worthy of the hero by the end of Checkmate. Others are Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, and Morgaine in C.J. Cherryh’s Exiles Gate

What heroines linger in your mind far past when you first read their story?


  1. I suppose the heroines of the books I read back in high school will forever stay with me: Elizabeth Bennett, Catherine of Wuthering Heights, to name just two. I hope that someday people will recall my heroine of THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Kim Reynolds, and find her a special heroine for our times.

    Jacqueline Seewald

  2. The one heroine that pops up first when I'm thinking about what I read and the characters, is Scarlet O'Hara.

    As self-centered as any one person could possibly be, she was still forced to be a "heroine" to her friends, and slaves during a very trying time in the South. She never noticed the needs of others unless they were somehow tied in with her wants. Nor did she notice anything that was going on around her. It took her years, but she did grow, too late maybe, but she did grow.

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  3. From high school--Scarlett O;Hara. From when I first started reading romance--Mary from Mackenzie's Mountain (Linda Howard.)

  4. One heroine who's hard to forget is Amelia Peabody. Amelia is the creation of Elizabeth Peters, a fabulous author. Amelia isn't beautiful, she's bossy, funny, madly in love with her husband, and intent on capturing criminals who bedevil their archaeological expeditions. Especially the Master Criminal. She also has to cope with a son who'd soon put me in the grave. Her story is told in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.

    Elaine Cantrell

  5. Elizabeth Bennett is my all time favorite heroine, but ...Bridget from Bridget Jones Diary is a close second. Yes, it's "chick lit", but Helen Fielding does an incredible job of capturing the essence of being a single woman over 30 in today's world. I laughed, I cried, I laughed again - only because Bridget is so real and relatable.

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