I have this bad habit of falling hard for fictional characters. Like, to the point where, when I get to the end of a book, I feel like we’ve broken up or something. Does everybody do this? Or am I just a weirdo?
Anyway, I made you a list of my top 15 literary loves of all time! Oh God I love lists so much.
1. Theodore Laurence from Little Women
First of all, please note that this dude and my son have the same first name. It is not really a coincidence. If Theo had been a girl, one of the names we were considering was Josephine. Don’t laugh.
Laurie is everything younger me wanted in a boyfriend: he was cute, funny, smart, mischievous and totally in need of a mother figure (okay, kidding on that last part – I mean, it’s true, it’s just not really on my list of potential mates). Even now when I read Little Women I get SO PISSED OFF that Jo won’t marry Laurie. How can she resist him when says stuff like:
If you loved me, Jo, I should be a perfect saint, for you could make me anything you like.
That’s clearly total lies, but still. Romance!
The bitterest pill to swallow is when Laurie goes and marries THE WORST MARCH SISTER (aka Amy). Ugh. Whatever, I hope he’s happy being married to the vain, obnoxious “artist” (hint: she is actually not very talented) of the family. I’m sure she’s thrilled she finally bagged a rich dude, since that was her plan all along.
My love for Laurie was probably aided by the fact that Christian Bale played him in the 1994 movie. Swoon. Double swoon.
2. Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye
I think that we can all agree that Holden would definitely be in the running for Worst Boyfriend Ever. He’s whiny, he’s pretentious, he has a victim complex a mile long – and yet, there was so much that teenage me identified with in him. As an adolescent trying to define myself against the storm of media-generated ideas of what I should look like, how I should act, what I should wear, his anti-phony policy had serious appeal for me. Also, I could totally identify with how awkward and isolated he felt around his peers. So even though reading Catcher these days makes me roll my eyes so hard I practically sprain them, he’ll always have a special place in my heart.
3. Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
True, he’s a rude, egotistical, incredibly impulsive drug-addict who hates women, but let’s face it: Sherlock Holmes is awesome. He doesn’t take shit from anybody, he’s super smart, and he’s a snappy dresser. Plus he would be really fun to hang around with (even if he would totally make you feel like an idiot all of the time). I know he is probably totally asexual, but what woman doesn’t love a challenge like that? (Hint: most of them)
4. Duncan, The Edible Woman
Another contender for Worst Boyfriend Ever. I’m sensing a theme here.
Duncan lies, and screws around with Marian’s feelings, and is generally terrible and manipulative. But somehow he is still lovable? It helps that he’s pretty honest about being a rotten person. He’s funny and quirky and is the perfect counterbalance to her bizarre, overly structured relationship with Peter. Plus, he’s tall and skinny, which is totally my type. I wouldn’t want to date him, but I think he’d be fun as a friend with benefits.
5. David Staunton, The Manticore
Okay, so David Staunton is totally weird about women and hasn’t had sex since he was 16. Oh, and that one time David did sleep with someone, it was with his father’s former mistress, in a bizarre arrangement set up by his father. I still love him, though. I love how he tries to quietly defy his overbearing father at every turn, and how he’s able to build a life for himself that’s at least partly outside of his father’s (extensive) shadow. Plus, his sister Caroline is awesome. I would totally marry him and then hang out with Caroline every day.
6. Christopher Heron, The Perilous Gard
Christopher is another love dating from my teenage days. I guess The Perilous Gard is technically YA, but if you like historical fiction, you will probably love it. Anyway, Christopher spends the entire book being moody and rude to Kate (with somewhat good reason), but then totally redeems himself with an awesome speech at the end:
I never thought of you like that. How could I? If you were any other woman, I could tell you I loved you, easily enough, but not you – because you’ve always seemed to me like a part of myself, and it would be like saying I loved my own eyes or my own mind. But have you ever though of what it would be to have to live without your mind or your eyes, Kate? To be mad? Or blind? I can’t talk about it. That’s the way I feel.
PRETTY ROMANTIC, RIGHT? It seemed that way when I was a teenager, anyway.
7. Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall
Thomas Cromwell kind of gets a bum rap when it comes to English History. He was unpopular in his own time, and unpopular after his death (by beheading!). What this book supposes is: maybe he was actually a pretty nice and awesome dude? Well, nicer than he’s painted in the history books, anyway.
What’s especially awesome about Cromwell (in Wolf Hall, at least) is that he is super unpretentious. He was born a commoner, and even as he rose through the courtly ranks, he still maintains his commoner sensibilities (and sense of humour). He had a shitty childhood, and then his wife and daughters both died of the English sweat (DID YOU KNOW THAT IS THE ACTUAL NAME OF AN ACTUAL DISEASE? sorry, I got a little excited there – up until I read this book, I assumed that it was a made up thing, like “brain fever”). Anyway, in spite of all this, he plods away at his work and is a nice, funny dude, and, I dunno, I kind of love him. He’s definitely marriage material, even if he does have some emotional baggage.
8. Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Levin, Anna Karenina
First of all, props to Levin for having such a long, awesome name. I love Russian names. Love them. I wish I had a Russian name, complete with awesome nickname.
Levin is kind of a sad sack, and spends a large chunk of the novel either mooning over Kitty or pondering the meaning of life. He’s still pretty great though – especially when he gets all up on worker’s rights. And he’s definitely a devoted and loving dude, which puts him way ahead of most of the people on this list so far. That being said, he does have the potential to be a super annoying partner, though.
8. Calvin O’Keefe, A Wrinkle In Time
Calvin is possibly my favourite on this list. He is a super popular smart athletic dude who loves Meg for exactly who she is. He doesn’t want her to be prettier, or less socially awkward, or more able to control her temper. He loves how smart she is, and is totally cool with the fact that she’s more intelligent than he is. He is just so lovely. My 12 year old self was totally head-over-heels for him.
I think Matt is basically my Calvin O’Keefe, even if I’m not actually smarter than Matt is (although one time I did score slightly higher than him on a fake online MENSA test).
9. Morpheus, The Sandman
Another dude who is worst boyfriend material. Why is he even on this list? He spends his days moping around, he’s always in a bad mood, he treats everyone pretty badly, but, I dunno. He’s the master of dreams, and that’s pretty awesome. I really want to live in his castle. And I think under all of his weirdness he has a good heart. Yeah, these excuses sound feeble, even to me.
Let’s just accept that I have terrible taste in fictional men and move on.
10. Claudine, Claudine at School
Claudine is rude, outspoken, hilarious and totally badass. Oh, and she’s also into girls, specifically her teacher. What’s not to love? When I was in my teens I didn’t know if I wanted to sleep with Claudine or be her. Or maybe I just really wanted to live in the late 19th century French countryside.
11. Frances Piper, Fall On Your Knees
Oh, Frances. One of my favourite characters ever. I think that Kathleen Piper is supposed to be the real lesbian ingénue of this book, but Frances was always the one who did it for me. Even though she has a pretty shitty life, she never pities herself. She’s totally funny, crass and irrepressible. Also she’s the kind of person who Gets Shit Done. She doesn’t sit around and wonder what she should do – she plans carefully, then goes out and does crazy things like trying to replace her younger sister’s dead twin by sleeping with someone she’s only met a handful of times.
Frances is someone I would want to have on hand in any emergency. Also, she’s a really great cook, specifically of Lebanese food. Yum.
12. Touchstone, Sabriel
Touchstone is this sort of semi-helpless character who has amnesia for most of the book and is also prone to berserker rages. But other than that, he’s totally lovely. And he’s totally willing to let Sabriel boss him around, which is awesome. Plus it sounds like he has really great hair.
13. Millat Iqbal, White Teeth
Another emotionally damaged asshole who also happens to be totally charming and funny and attractive. And apparently really good in bed! After we both read this book, my friend Annie confessed that she had a sudden impulse to go up to all the brown boys she met and whisper, are you some kind of Indian sex god?
He has good taste in movies, too, if I recall correctly.
14. Almanzo Wilder, Little Town On The Prairie
Almanzo is another one of my favourite characters, even if he’s not strictly fictional. Laura constantly describes herself as being as “dumpy as a French horse”, and, of course, Almanzo is a total hottie. All the other girls in town want him, but he chooses Laura because she’s smart and nice and a SUPER HARDCORE PIONEER. Seriously, Laura was the best. She could totally have out-pioneered all the other girls in that town.
So yeah, Almanzo is another dude who gets huge props for loving Laura for who she is, and not what she looks like. And from later books, it’s pretty clear that he and Laura work as a team in their marriage, rather than him trying to dominate her. Another one who’s total marriage material. High five!
Sergeant X, For Esmé – With Love and Squalor
First of all, this is a guy who knows how to talk to kids, which is rare. And he is just so charming and lovely with Esmé, who is clearly heartbroken and lonely (and a little bossy). This is one of my favourite Salinger stories of all time. I’m so glad that he was able to make it through with his F-A-C-U-L-T-I-E-S mostly intact.
Man, who would have thought there would be two Salinger dudes on this list? That’s kind of a shocker.
So spill, internet. Who are your embarrassing fictional crushes? And what do you think they say about your personality? (I think it’s pretty clear from this list that I want a smart, funny, attractive yet douchey and self-obsessed dude who is able to talk to children and loves me for who I am. And is the master of the dream world.)