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As an inveterate reader since childhood, fictional characters have seemed very real to me, and so many badass women that I met there have been my greatest inspirations!
Since childhood, I have been an avid reader. My parents got me my first library card at the age of six and there was no looking back since. I have devoured any book I could get my hands on, provided of course, that the story was gripping.
Now I don’t get that much time to read, but when I look back, I see how some of the women I read about influenced my life greatly. I would like to share a little about these amazing women in fiction…
Which child who reads has not read Enid Blyton? The Secret Seven, The Five Find Outers, Brer Rabbit, The Naughtiest Girl series – I could go on and on.
My particular favorite was The Famous Five series, of which I read the entire set many times over. I also watched the TV shows made on this series, and while all the characters are just great, I always admired the tomboyish “George”. Perhaps it was because she was all the things I was not – tomboyish, loved her dog Timmy, could climb a tree, and swim.
George was an outspoken fiery little girl. Much has been said about her being based on Enid Blyton herself, and whether she was a lesbian or not. Whatever be the case, her direct approach to life is something I have unconsciously adopted.
If I am talking about women in fiction, then no list would be complete without mentioning Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.
Scarlett was the first grey character I read about, and Margaret Mitchell’s tome on the life of this lady in the times of the American Civil War has been my mainstay for years now. Her famous line “I’ll think about it tomorrow” and “I will never be hungry again” have come to me at moments when I needed them the most and given me the strength to go on.
Scarlett is not perfect and neither am I, and I love her for being her selfish, obstinate self but still having the heart to carry everyone’s burden on her shoulders, albeit grudgingly.
Beautifully played by actress Vivan Leigh in the movie version, Scarlett remains my all-time favorite heroine.
While some dismiss Sidney Sheldon as the master of pulp fiction, I have always loved his stories and the way you cannot put any book of his down without finishing it. The novel Rage of Angels, though not as popular as Nothing Lasts Forever, is a well-knit masterpiece.
It follows the story of Jennifer Parker, a lawyer and her life as it shapes up practicing law. Jennifer’s loneliness, her wrong choices in men, her blind love for her son – you cannot help but admire this flawed, passionate, courageous woman, whose undying spirit lasts even when everything in her life is over. Jennifer is someone I identify with the most because of her never say die attitude.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri is a fairly recent book. When I read it and encountered Gauri Mitra, a woman who is one brother’s widow and marries the other, I did not know why she had such an impact on me. Every line I read, I was bothered about what Gauri would do next. I did not agree with any choices she made, starting from marrying her brother-in-law, to leaving him later, to abandoning her own child.
Gauri is possibly someone who is totally different from everything I believe in. She is not a villainous character, nor can I say she is wrong. She is just who she is – a victim of circumstances. Yet when you read the book, it is her character that is the strongest.
Four women, who exist only in fiction – yet each one can be a great example because of the qualities each author has bestowed on them. I met each one of them at different stages of my life, and they have been my friends and companions over the years, sometimes when there was no one else to turn to!
Image source: a still from the movie Gone With the Wind
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About Indrani Ghosh nee Chaudhuri
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