Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do You Have a little Chick in your Lit? or the Strong Female Protagonists We've Loved All Along...

Do you have a little Chick in your Lit?...
or the Strong Female Protagonists We've Loved All Along

Chick Lit...

"Chick Lit" refers to books featuring hip, stylist female protagonists. We usually follow their struggles with their love life and careers. Some excellent books that come to mind are Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding and Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner (BTW, if you haven’t read either of these books put them on your reading list!) ... But before the invention of “Chick lit” there were still some powerful chicks out there worth reading about! Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables who must overcome the loss of her parents and the start of a new life away from what was once called home. Francie Nolan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn who blossoms out of the pavement just like the tree that grows in the tenements where she lives, Cassandra Mortmain of I Captured the Castle, who struggles to grow up and learn about life & Love in a decaying English castle. These coming of age books are timeless. And have always been a popular read. I Captured the Castle was recently reissued after being out of print for many years and is enjoying popularity among reading groups too. Relive your youth and read one of these classics. P. S. speaking of strong women-don't forget those March Sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy) of Little Women.

So, here's the start of a list of some timeless classics that star a girl with guts... what books can you add to the list?

*I Captured the Castle by Dodie Smith published 1948 ( author of The Hundred and One Dalmations)

*Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery published 1908

*A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith published 1943

*Little Women by Louis May Alcott published 1868

*Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene, mystery series published starting 1930

*Trixie Belden by Julie Campbell, mystery series published starting 1948

*Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte published 1847

*The Millenium Series by Stieg Larsson 1st in series published 2008

*Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen published 1813

*Sharon McCone Mysteries by Marcia Muller mysteries published starting 1977

*Thursday Next of the Jasper Fforde Novels starting in 2001

Julie of Reading Without Restraint commented to add Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden to the mix! Both are teenage girls with an amazing ability to solve a good mystery! Independent & fearless, both girls are good examples of strong female characters! Nancy Drew was written by various ghost writers under the name Carolyn Keene and began publishing in 1930, and Trixie Belden was written by Julie Campbell in the beginning, starting in 1948, and then by various ghost writers under the name Kathryn Kenny after Julie Campbell decided to stop writing the books. Thanks Julie for adding these great heroines!

BookishBarney (aka Ellie!) of Musings of a Bookshop Girl adds Jane Eyre to the list! She points out that Jane is calm & proper on the surface, but strong & passionate underneath. What a wonderful example of a woman who knows her own mind! Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classics and thanks Ellie for adding her to the list!

PaulGuy adds a contemporary girl to the list(but she's all class!)... Lisbeth Salander! Talk about strong women protagonists! She's definitely not chick lit, but I'm betting that she'll be a classic someday! Lisbeth stars in Stieg Larsson's (Girl with The Dragon Tattoo) "Millenium Series" and really shows us how to stick up for ourselves. Thanks Paul for adding one of my favorite women to the list!

Fantasylover12001 of A Fangirls View reminds us that Jane Austen really opened the door for chick lit, and strong women protagonists with Pride and Prejudice! How could we not add Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice! She had spunk and a mind of her own! She endures in our hearts because of her fierce independence and is what makes Pride and Prejudice a book club favorite almost 300 years after she lay pen to paper. Thanks Fantasylover12001 for adding Jane Austen and her novel Pride and Prejudice to our list!

Kathy of Bags, Books & Bon Jovi adds Sharon McCone and her mysteries penned by Marcia Muller to the list! Kathy points out that "In mystery circles, she (Sharon McCone) is credited as being the first female protagonist, and not just a secondary character to a male PI." Thanks Kathy for mentioning her! I have never read any of Marcia Muller and now I'm going to grab one of these Sharon McCone mysteries to see where it all started!

Stpand adds another contemporary girl who really has her feet firmly planted in the classics, Thursday Next! Thursday Next lives in a parallel world and is a literary detective. With all these wonderful literary "classic" characters living in her world, Thursday Next is a girl worth remembering! Thanks Stpand for adding her to the list!


Julie P said...

How about the entire Nancy Drew series? Or even Trixie Belden? They were young but they were smart and managed to pull it together to solve crime. What do you think?

Suzanne Yester said...

Absolutely Julie! How could I leave out Nancy Drew, who was one of my favorite heroines! And Trixie Belden too! Thanks for joining in and adding to the list!

Ellie said...

How about Jane Eyre? On the surface she's quite calm and proper, but underneath she's such a strong woman with firm opinions and a passionate heart. I love her!

PaulGuy said...

Decidedly contemporary and not classic but I've fallen in love with Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!

fantasylover12001 said...

Never thought of Little Women as chick lit but now that you mention kind of is. Personally, I still say without Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and so on, there would be no chick lit of today. I like to think of her as one of the first chick lit writers.

Suzanne Yester said...

Thanks Bookishbarney and Fantasylover12001 for adding two powerful authors and their strong women onto the list! Both Charlotte Bronte''s Jane Eyre and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice have endured the test of time because of the wonderful writing and the great women they wrote about!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi PaulGuy,
Thanks for adding Lisbeth Salander to the list. I would not have thought to include her because she's not a "classic" girl, but I really do love her and think she will achieve that status some day!

Kathy said...

I would include Sharon McCone. She is the female Private Investigator created by Marcia Muller. In mystery circles, she is credited as being the first one that was the protagonist... not a secondary character to a male PI.
Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, and VI Warshawsky credit her as an inspiration for their characters.

stpand said...

Jasper Fforde's protaganist, Thursday Next, is another modern character for your list.

Elisabeth said...

Realizing that I've misunderstood a whole genre...this is not how I've defined "chick lit." Interesting.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Kathy!
Thanks so much for sharing Sharon McCone! My first love of reading was ll murder mysteries, and you'd think I would have known about Marcia Muller and her writing! But that's what book blogging is all about= sharing our love of books!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Stpand!
Thursday Next should definitely be a honorary "classic" girl, especially since she works with all those great "classic" characters! Thanks for adding her!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Elisabeth,
Interesting interpretation of chick lit, huh? :-) Chick lit does get a bum rap sometimes, but if we really look where it began- in strong independent women characters, things look a bit different.Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

MissA said...

I like this description of chick lit. I'm slowly starting to really like the genre.

I would add Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God

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