To mark Valentine’s Day, Book Bub posted a list of top book crushes. I’d never heard of some of them, probably because I don’t read fantasy novels, but the ones I did know were a mixed bag. Heathcliff – the man who kidnaps young girls and forces them into marrying their cousins. Mr Rochester – the man who keeps his wife locked up in the attic and tries to commit bigamy with the governess. Seriously?! But Gilbert Blythe, Rhett Butler and Mr Darcy – ah, that’s a bit more like it! Atticus Finch – well, I suppose he gets marks for integrity, but he’s not really all that interesting. They were all blokes, and there didn’t seem to be a corresponding list of women, which was a bit weird, but maybe they think it’s only blokes who attract admiration from readers!
OK, I need to think of a list of ten. Excluding people who actually existed, which rules out the major characters of quite a lot of my books! And, seeing as I can’t make decisions and would never manage to put them in order, this is going to have to be in alphabetical order.
- Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. Gilbert seems to have made most of the other lists I’ve seen, as well!
- Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind. OK, he’s very annoying, and I would probably get on much better with Ashley Wilkes, who usually had his head in the clouds and his nose in a book, but I love the way Rhett’s always there when he’s needed. There’s a lot to be said for that.
- Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia. Preferably as played by Ben Barnes in the film. So much nicer than Peter or Edmund!
- Guy Charlton from the Sadler’s Wells books. Everyone laughs at me for this! OK, teenage Guy, in the Marjorie and Patience books, is a bit of a pain, but Guy as an adult, sorting out Nigel for bullying Jane, rescuing Jane when she gets lost on a Scottish mountain in New Year’s Eve, and then telling her that he quite understands that she’s putting her career before him (unlike Sebastian Scott, who gets in a huge strop when Veronica prioritises her career) … if I was doing this in order, Guy would definitely be at or near the top of the list. And everyone laughs at me for this.
- Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. OK, another one who can be annoying, but he’s also there when he’s needed. He’s also a wonderful brother. Oh, and he owns Pemberley. Shame about the first name, though. OK, I know it was his mother’s maiden name, but what did Elizabeth call him in private? Fitz? Will?
- Angelo Ibanez from the Sadler’s Wells books. The Sadler’s Wells books are very romantic! And I need a Spaniard on the list 🙂 . Angelo, unlike his annoying friend Sebastian, is a perfect gentleman who is polite to everyone and never sarcastic … and he comes to Caroline’s rescue when her life seems to be a mess, and sweeps her off her feet into a new world of personal and professional success. My two favourite Sadler’s Wells girls are Mariella and Caroline, but I think Caroline edges it because I sympathise with her weight traumas! Having been the fat kid, Caroline becomes beautiful and glamorous at the age of fifteen, when her puppy fat magically disappears. For years, I hoped that that would happen to me. It never did! But that all got bound up in my head with the idea of being swept off your feet with someone like Angelo, so I’ve always liked him. Even though he isn’t Guy.
- Count Sergei Nikolayevitch Kirov from the Kirov saga. This is the first Count Sergei, who dies in the first book, not his half-brother, who dies in the second book! Well, I’ve got to have a Russian in here somewhere, haven’t I?! This is a really melancholy Russian story – Sergei is in love with Anna, his sisters’ English governess, and asks her to marry him. He adores her, and he’s so sweet, but she turns him down. He then finds out that she’s actually in love with his father. His stepmother conveniently dies, and Anna and the father live happily ever after, but poor Sergei is killed in the Napoleonic Wars. It’s very sad 😦 .
- Orry Main from North and South. Preferably as played by the late, great Patrick Swayze in the TV series. All right, as his life spirals downwards he walks around looking a mess and drinks too much, but nobody’s perfect, and I do sympathise with that feeling of your life getting out of control. He’s the perfect honourable gentleman – like Ashley Wilkes is meant to be, but without Ashley’s wimpishness
- Dr Jem Russell from the Chalet School books. Not only does he take on Madge’s sister, wards, nieces, nephews and sundry other hangers-on, but he’s fine with Madge continuing to run her own business after they’re married – as Rhett Butler is with Scarlett. Best of all, when Madge is upset because people are making unkind remarks about her weight, and decides that she needs to go on a diet, he tells her that she looks fine as she is. That earns him a huge amount of gold stars. I have heard so many nasty remarks about weight over the years that I remember every time anyone’s ever said anything complimentary to me, even really random things like the time I asked a bloke in a newsagent’s in town if he had any sugar free Polo mints and he said I didn’t need to worry about having sugar free stuff. Bless! I remember all the nasty remarks, of which there’ve been far more, as well, so I love Jem for telling Madge that she looked fine as she was
- Captain Frederick Wentworth from Persuasion. I love the way that he goes back to Anne, his first love, when there are younger and prettier girls after him. He’s lovely.
There. Ten! A lot of my favourite books don’t feature on this list, because they don’t seem to have decent heroes. I’m not sure what that says about anything! And, if anyone does happen to be reading this, please make your own suggestions! Just not Heathcliff or Mr Rochester, please …