Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Characters in Historical Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week, we’re sharing our ten favorite characters from a particular genre.  Since I read primarily historical fiction, we’ll roll with that.

1. Kirsten from the American Girl series.  The American Girl books are a primary factor in my interest in both reading and historical fiction, so it’s only fair to include them.  Kirsten went through some hard times – her best friend dying, her cabin burning down, etc. – but her stories were always full of discovery, family, and joy.

2. Lee from “East of Eden.”  It’s not quite historical fiction, but Lee is such a brilliant character!  He’s educated, open-minded, and dedicated to the ideals of forgiveness and free will.

3. Mary Boleyn from “The Other Boleyn Girl.”  Mary grew up in a cutthroat family, and her love life (her entire life, really) is put through the wringer, but she’s an interesting character.  She’s naive compared to most of the savvy courtiers, but she has enough self-confidence to recognize her worth in a culture that wants to sell her to the most powerful man available.  She has a good moral compass which guides her away from most terrible decisions – but she’s not selfless enough to act to save her brother and sister’s lives.  So, even though she’s a good-hearted, relatable heroine, she still has a little too much Boleyn in her for comfort.

4. Morgaine from “The Mists of Avalon.” Speaking of flawed, complex characters!  Morgaine is the primary protagonist of this gigantic, complicated, and often depressing book.  She’s not traditionally beautiful, she’s saddled with responsibilities she doesn’t want, her country and religion are literally fading into the mist, and she’s in love with a man who loves someone else.  What she does with all of that takes her on an enthralling personal journey.

5. Esther from “Little Century.” Esther leaves behind an empty city life to hash out a living on the Oregon frontier.  She learns quickly, finds a use for her talents, and navigates one of the few love triangles I’ve actually enjoyed reading.

6. Vincent Casson from “The World At Night” and “Red Gold.” Most Furst heroes are pretty similar, but director-turned-spy Casson followed a darker, more dramatic arc: wealth, fame, and comfort in the first book, followed by poverty and fear in the second.  He demonstrates true Furstian average-Joe courage all the way through.

7. Mary from “My Name Is Mary Sutter.”  Mary is the ugly-duckling twin and a woman born in the wrong era.  She wants to be a surgeon, and she goes through war and crippling personal hardship to get there.

8. Jean Lafitte from “Zorro.” This book is full of memorable characters, but Lafitte is the most dashing pirate who ever buckled a swash.  He’s French, a daring swordfighter, and a good man (at least for a pirate), so you don’t really blame Juliana when she falls head over heels for him.

9. Everyone in “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.” How could I pick just one? Bold Elizabeth, flirty Juliet, suave Sidney, batty Isobel…the whole cast is fun and lively and memorable.

10. Ellen from “The Age of Innocence.”  Archer’s see-saw between the two women he loves is obnoxious at times, but Ellen’s constant quiet rebellion was much fun to read.  If she was the Internet (and pardon the French), she’d be the “look at all the f***s I give” meme.

Do you have a favorite historical fiction character?  The genre is so immense it would be hard to list them all!

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11 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Characters in Historical Fiction

    • Yes! Even moreso because of the format – the letters retained their writers’ voices and still conveyed the personalities of the other characters really well.

  1. I really like what you have to say about Morgaine from The Mists Of Avalon, that is one of my favorite books ever written and I think you encapsulate why Morgaine is so compelling. Nice job.

    Also. I am convinced I need to read Guernsey like right now.

  2. Upon reading your post I have, of course, forgotten every piece of historical fiction I’ve ever read, but I WILL say Octavian from the Octavian Nothing books (well, I’ve only read the first one, but still). He’s a great narrator who communicates the harshness of his life with some dark humor. Also have to include Private Evidence Goring from the same book(s) because the vulnerability in his letters to his sister just gets me right HERE. Ahhhh, such a good book, so powerful and interesting and sad.

  3. Seriously, everyone from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! I loved that book so much! And I don’t read adult books much, but that one. Sooooo frickin’ good! 🙂

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