Hooray for Heroines!

I’ve been thinking about women. It was the 99th International Women’s Day last week (March 8th) which started my contemplation and it’s been on my mind ever since.

I think women are great. I’m proud to be one. And one of the things that hooks me when I open a romance is the heroine. Sure, we all want to read about a great hero, but if we can’t relate to the heroine, if she’s weak or TSTL then we won’t go on her journey with her.lizzie396_396x222

One of my favourite heroines is Elizabeth Bennet – she’s smart and won’t lower her standards just to get married, even though society is pressuring her to become someone’s wife. She’s also witty and she loves her sisters. Who wouldn’t want to be her friend? When I reread a favourite heroine’s book, it’s almost like revisiting an old friend.

There are heaps of fabulous real life heroines too – they’re all around us.

I admire women who are passionate about life.
I admire women who make changes happen.
I admire women who are raising the next generation.
I admire women who stand to be counted.
I admire women who are happy with themselves.

Who are the heroines you’ve stood up and applauded, either fictional or in real life?


17 Responses to “Hooray for Heroines!”

  1. March 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Great topic, Rachel! Here’s a fictional heroine I admire. Her character is based on a woman who lived through the plague in England in 1666. Anna Frith is housemaid to a young minister, who convinces his contagious fellow villagers to quarantine themselves in order to help contain the spread of the disease.

    It’s an amazing tale, not only from an historical point of view, but also in the way it maps Anna’s personal growth. Anna grows from a lowly servant with no voice/power, to a brave and confident woman who nurses the sick, stands by the persecuted and eventually takes control of her own destiny. The ending is brilliant!

    The book’s Year of Wonders by Australian author, Geraldine Brooks. Go girl power!

  2. 2 Rachel Bailey
    March 15, 2009 at 11:18 am

    What a great choice, Robyn! I must get that book – sounds like a fabulous read.

  3. March 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Ooh, I second your list, Rachel, we clearly value similar kinds of qualities in people. I do have one more on my list…

    **I admire women (and men) who take ownership of their decisions… ‘piss or get off the pot’ as my nan used to say (because HER nan used to say it, I suspect).**

    Nothing appeals to me less than defeatism. You make a decision, you own it… in all its consequence.

    And so… a single woman with all those qualities…? I’m not sure I know one with ALL those qualities but I know several with a healthy mix of those qualities and they are the women who are my closest friends. Which makes sense… we would connect best with the people who share our values. So put them all together and they are the perfect woman (in my eyes).

    And they are absolutely the women I mull around in my mind when I’m creating new heroines. A little bit from friend A, a sample from friend B, a dash of friend C…until I have a heroine that I’d like to know and have long lunches with if she were real.


  4. 4 Dana (Bootcamp)
    March 15, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Rachel, the heroine I most admire in ‘real life’ is a woman from my own family. My great grandmother was half Cherokee. She was shunned by society because she was accepted in neither the Indian community nor the white community. When her Welshman husband, my grandfather lost the use of his legs in a logging accident, she was unable to find employment because of her ‘social status’, but she wouldn’t let that get her down! She supported her family (of 13 children and one parapalegic husband) by gardening and canning and quilting. She taught me all I need to know. She taught me the beauty of our world in the face of so many seeming uglinesses! She taught me respect for others-even the ones putting you down (after all they too have a story that made them as they are). She taught me personal responsibility. She taught me stregth. She taught me love. She taught me to be me-regardless of what the rest of the world thought about me.
    Oh, and then too there are the other real life heroine’s that I admire…my crit partner, Cassie Pennington and my fellow Bootcampers!

  5. 5 Tracey
    March 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Great topic Rachel. Have to second your comments. I have to admit that Elizabeth Bennet is one of my very favourite heroines of all time. She maintained her own values, her dignity and found herself a partner, in every true sense of the word. I’ve met so many women who would be wonderful heroines in my book, in fact one of my first ms’s character’s is inspired by a close friend. I guess the main trait for me is to keep breathing, no matter what life throws at you, no matter how many mistakes you make, if you stay positive, keep trying and aim for what you want – that’s a true heroine.

    Cheers All

  6. March 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I agree Rachel that you have to relate to the heroine in some way to fully get into a story. And the best thing about heroines is that they are not perfect. No-one is. Perfection is an illusion, so hence I allow my characters not to be perfect.

    I’ve been blessed to have many family and friends who I can call real-life heroines. My mum mostly, because of her constant perseverance and constant support. I’ve been blessed to have made some wonderful friends through writing. And in every one I find qualities I admire. Qualities that inspire. Qualities I aspire to emulate.

  7. 7 Rachel Bailey
    March 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Nikki – love the saying! I think that’s a really good addition to the list. And a very good point about us connecting with people who share our values.

    Dana, what an inspiring woman. I think your great-grandmother is on my list of women I admire now too! Thanks for sharing some of her story.

  8. 8 Rachel Bailey
    March 15, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Tracey, I love your comment that no matter what life throws at you or what mistakes you make, just keep breathing and stay positive. Beautifully put!

    Eleni, how gorgeous that your mum is one of your real life heroines! I’d class my mum as one too. 🙂 And I agree totally with your comment about heroines not being perfect – as long as I can admire something about them, they’re more interesting being imperfect.

  9. 9 Sandra
    March 17, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Dana – I love the sound of your grandmother.

    Rachel the post’s really got me thinking and all of my favourite books even the Stephanie Plum ones have heroines I admire (in spite of or because of their flaws). Although I do have the odd favourite too where the hero is just so gorgeous that I almost don’t see the heroine (either that or she’s me).

  10. 10 Pat Cochran
    March 17, 2009 at 10:22 am

    How does one select any one person for her heroine? Each and every woman I know has reasons to be a favorite of mine!
    There’s the grandmother who is rescuing her granddaughters from the parents who are neglecting them, the wife whose
    diabetic husband is so ill and supporting the household is her task, the single mother raising her two sons – one of
    whom is autistic, the sisters who at the first hint of problems are on the way to give aid, and I could go on & on!
    I say “Hooray” for all women and don’t forget the men who are just as supportive!

    Pat Cochran

  11. March 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

    In fiction my favourite heroine is Grace St John, in Linda Howard’s SON OF THE MORNING. No question. She’s living a normal, wonderful, happy life and everything gets ripped out from under her. How she survives, claws back and ultimately thrives is an amazing story and will probably always be my all time favourite book.

    In real life I’d probably pick Erin Brockovich. There’s something about a person (whether it be a man or a woman) who just won’t let go of the small stuff and ultimately exposes the big and brings the big to its knees and full accountability that leaves me awed.

    And Dana’s grandmother, wow, what a woman. With a role model like that, Dana, how could you ever go wrong?

  12. 12 Rachel Bailey
    March 17, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Sandra, I agree – I love heroines because of their flaws too. As long as they give me enough to cheer for. 🙂 Stephanie Plum is a gorgeous example – thanks for that one.

    Pat, that was *beautifully* put! There are women everywhere who deserve a round of applause.

  13. 13 Rachel Bailey
    March 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Yvonne, that sounds like a great recommendation for a book – I’ll put Son of the Morning on my to-buy list. Thanks! And, yes, Erin Brockovich is a perfect example of someone I’d stand up and applaud.

  14. March 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Hey Rachel! Hmmm… heroines. I must admit I haven’t read any Austen 😯 but she is on my to-do list since I got some freebies when I bought my ebook.

    I cannot get enough of Charlaine Harris’ ‘Grave’ series. Her heroine, Harper Connelly, is simply awesome – she had an awful childhood, and due to a freak accident she now has the ability to tell how people died and boy, is she good! It’s told in the first person, which probably has something to do with sucking you in right away 🙂 I won’t reveal all the twists of her past because some of you might want to read them 😉

    I also love Mary O’Rourke in Sharon Sala’s The Way To Yesterday (Silhouette Intimate Moments). At the beginning of the story she’s lost her husband and daughter to a car crash and is at lowest point in her life. The way the author just weaves in the time slip and suspense elements is a joy. Oh, must read that book again now! 😆

  15. 15 azteclady
    March 21, 2009 at 12:26 am

    In my life, my heroines are my mother, her mother, and *her* mother. The women in my mother’s side of the family have always been survivors, no matter what life threw at them. The best part? To a woman, they didn’t lose their sense of humor nor their sense of wonder regardless of their struggles.

    I was blessed to actually meet (and live next door to) my maternal great-grandmother for a few years. Being well past her ninetieth year, she had very little mobility, but her mind was her own. She taught me to play cards (and to cheat 😀 ) and told me stories of a century long gone that still lived in her memory. Her name was Dolores, but she used to say that there was no pain in life that couldn’t be lived through or lived with, so everyone called her Loló instead.

    In history, I think Artemisia Gentileshi is under appreciated, both as a person and as a painter.

    In fiction… oh so many, too many to count! I agree with Paula about Mary O’Rourke from The Way to Yesterday, and then there’s Low Down a.k.a. Louise Downe from Maggie Osborne’s Silver Lining and Ellie from LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory. And most definitely Eve Dallas from the … in Death books.

  16. 16 Rachel Bailey
    March 22, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Paula, I’ve heard such good things about Charlaine Harris that I really must get one and read it. Oh, and thanks for the tip of Sharon Sala – I haven’t read any of hers. My TBR pile is growing as we speak!

  17. 17 Rachel Bailey
    March 22, 2009 at 11:37 am

    azteclady, what a great story about living next door to your great-grandmother. I only met one of mine and I was very young when she died so I don’t have any clear memories. And how fabulous that you have that great history of heroines – your mother, her mother and *her* mother. You’ve come from heroic stock!

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