A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 12

L is for — two Lucys: Lucy Pevensie and Lucy Waring from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic.

After reading the Chronicles of Narnia, in my much younger days, whenever I saw a wardrobe or even a closet in someone’s house, my first impulse was to open it and see if it led anywhere. I didn’t, of course, because that would have been incredibly rude, but I always wondered what it would be like to actually find a doorway to another world as Lucy Pevensie does in Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I would have felt as she did: excited, curious, and more than a little scared.

Lucy is the youngest of the four Pevensie siblings, and she isn’t taken seriously by her brothers and sister at the start of the story. They don’t believe her when she tells them about Narnia, but she proves them wrong, and so begins their amazing adventure. I enjoyed the Chronicles very much and liked seeing Lucy grow into a strong, self-confident, courageous young woman.

In Mary Stewart’s romantic thriller, This Rough Magic, Lucy Waring is a young actress vacationing on the island of Corfu in the Mediterranean. Her vacation, however, goes horribly wrong when she gets caught up in a nightmare of deceit and murder. She must use all of her wits and courage to save herself from being the next one dead.

I really enjoy Stewart’s romantic suspense thrillers. One of the things that draws me in is that, not just Lucy, but all of Stewart’s heroines are ordinary women who travel to exotic locales and get tangled up in perilous situations, not of their making. The books are exciting reads with plenty of romance and, always, satisfying endings.

Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie with Mr. Tumnus the Faun in Disney's The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, 2005 Photo Credit: Narnia Wikia

Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie
with Mr. Tumnus the Faun in
Disney’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, 2005
Photo Credit: Narnia Wikia

Chronicles of Narnia

Chronicles of Narnia

Mary Stewart's Books

Mary Stewart’s Books

A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 10

J is for — Jane from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

I first read Jane Eyre in junior high English. It was on one of those required reading lists containing books that, for my age group, were more often than not, shall we say… uninteresting. I fully expected Jane Eyre to fall into that category, and because it was the thickest book on the list, decided to read it first to get it out of the way. To my amazement, I discovered that I actually liked it and soon became engrossed in the travails of Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the mystery at Thornfield. I learned a valuable lesson from the experience: read before you judge.

Jane has so many wonderful qualities — honesty, forthrightness, courage. I love her perseverance, her resilience, and her kindness in forgiving those who have wronged her. She is a great reminder to a world that glorifies perfect faces and bodies that it is beauty on the inside that counts.

Of the six movie versions I’ve seen, I think I like the 2006 BBC Masterpiece Theater production with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens the best. They have great chemistry, and everything is well done — the brooding atmosphere, the harrowing suspense, and romantic tension with scenes that aren’t overdone. Wilson is perfect as Plain Jane, both strong and vulnerable. There are moments after her encounters with Mr. Rochester when she positively glows, no longer plain but young and pretty and in love. Stephens reminds me of a rougher Hugh Jackman, with enough presence and just enough attractiveness, but not too much, to keep things interesting.

Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens as Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, BBC, 2006

Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens as
Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester
in Jane Eyre, BBC, 2006
Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 9

I is for — Inigo Montoya from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

My kids looked at me like I was nuts the first time I got The Princess Bride out for us to watch. The fact that I was randomly spouting the above line in a Spanish accent is probably why. Inigo is my favorite character from the movie — a “wizard” swordsman on a seemingly endless quest to avenge his father’s murder. Even though he starts out as one of the bad guys, you can’t help but like him. The initial conversation and ensuing duel between Inigo and the Man in Black is one of the best scenes in the movie. So is the confrontation between Inigo and the Six-Fingered Man. I cheered at the moment of Inigo’s final triumph.

Though I’ve watched the movie many times, I’d never read the book until recently. I was surprised to find that the movie followed the book quite closely, with the main differences being the exclusion of the “Zoo of Death” (which really wasn’t that important) and the book’s weird ending. I have to say this is one of the few cases — and maybe the only case — where I prefer the movie to the book.

Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride Photo Credit: Princess Bride Wikia

Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in
The Princess Bride
Photo Credit: Princess Bride Wikia


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 8

H is for — Jasper Holt from Grace Livingston Hill’s The Finding of Jasper Holt.

Jasper Holt is a character few will likely know. He’s the type of hero I’m always drawn to — the misunderstood man everyone thinks is a bad guy, when really he isn’t. He keeps to himself, lives by his own code of honor, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of him. His heart of gold is deeply buried, a well-kept secret.

Until, that is, he rescues a young woman during a train wreck. He treats her like a gentleman and makes sure she gets back to her family unharmed. She sees beyond his hard outer shell and staunchly defends him to all her relatives and friends who don’t believe her when she tells them who rescued her. In the end, they finally see his true character.

I first started reading Grace Livingston Hill’s Christian romances in my early teens. The wonderful, spiritually moving stories gave me shining examples of how relationships should be, with heroes and heroines who treat themselves and others with respect and where love means — as Olaf, the snowman from Disney’s Frozen, so eloquently put it: “That’s when you put someone else’s needs before your own.”

The Finding of Jasper Holt was originally published in 1915. Hill wrote over 100 novels, and I’ve read most all of them — some of them many times. The uplifting stories of perseverance, love, and faith always leave me with a smile.

Grace Livingston Hill Photo Credit: www.gracelivingstonhill.com

Grace Livingston Hill
Photo Credit: http://www.gracelivingstonhill.com


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 7

G is for — Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Who else but Gandalf, wandering wizard and guardian of Middle Earth? He is the epitome of a great spellcaster, the standard to which all other wizards are held, at least, by me. When I hear the word “wizard,” an image of Gandalf immediately comes to mind. His long gray hair and beard, gray robes, tall peaked hat, and crooked staff personify my ideal of a wizard. And not only does he wield powerful magic, he wields a sword equally well — a formidable opponent indeed. Yet wisdom and compassion rule his actions, and love for his fellow Men — and Hobbits — and all those who work for the good of Middle Earth. Actor Sir Ian McKellen plays him perfectly in the Peter Jackson films. He IS Gandalf.

When Gandalf arrives on Bilbo’s doorstep, Bilbo wants nothing to do with him or his adventurous quest. I, on the other hand, would have leaped at the chance to take part in such an adventure and, in my younger days, often imagined doing just that. What a thrill it would have been! And I suspect I’m not the only one to have had such imaginings. I’m sure there are many kindred spirits who would have loved to hear those words: “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure…”

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf Photo Credit: LOTR Wikia

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Photo Credit: LOTR Wikia

Gandalf and Bilbo from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Photo Credit: LOTR Wikia

Gandalf and Bilbo from
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Photo Credit: LOTR Wikia


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 6

F is for — Fflewddur Fflam from Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.

I love humorous characters, and Fflewddur Fflam definitely fits the bill. He is actually king of a very small kingdom, though in his heart, he is a bard and often wanders with his magical harp, noting that his kingdom seems to carry on just fine without him.

In The Book of Three, the first book of the Chronicles, Fflewddur is mistakenly rescued from a dungeon cell by Princess Eilonwy, another VERY humorous character. He joins the princess and Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, on their dangerous journey to Caer Dathyl to warn of an imminent attack by the evil Horned King. Along the way, Fflewddur regales his companions with the brave and mighty deeds he’s done in battle, but whenever he lies or exaggerates, the strings on his magical harp snap resoundingly, causing him to hastily revise his stories in mid-breath.

Despite his many exaggerations, Fflewddur proves his mettle in countless battles throughout the five-book series, his courage and loyalty unquestionable. I’d welcome him on my team any day.

Fflewddur Fflam from Disney's Black Cauldron, 1985

Fflewddur Fflam from Disney’s Black Cauldron, 1985
Photo Credit: Disney Wikia

Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron

Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three,
The Black Cauldron

Chronicles of Prydain: The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King

Chronicles of Prydain: The Castle of Llyr,
Taran Wanderer,
The High King

A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 5

E is for — Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Eliza Bennett is my kind of heroine. She’s intelligent, witty, tart-tongued, and not brainlessly boy-crazy like some of her younger sisters. I enjoy her spirited banter with the haughty Mr. Darcy. I always wished that I could be so good with a repartee. I love the story, and the slow transformation of their opinions of each other never gets old.

Truth be told, I love all of Jane Austen’s major novels. (I haven’t read any of her shorter works.) Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, followed by Sense and Sensibility, the gothic Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Emma. I own four video versions of Pride and Prejudice, and, Colin Firth’s wet shirt notwithstanding, I like the BBC production with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul the best. Maybe it’s because it was the first adaptation I saw, but whatever the reason, I thought the actresses/actors fit the characters the best, and Austen’s ironic humor really shone through.

Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, BBC 1980

Elizabeth Garvie as
Elizabeth Bennett in
Pride and Prejudice,
BBC 1985
Photo Credit: Jane Austen Wikia


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 4

D is for — Dustfinger and D’Artagnan — from the Inkheart series and The Three Musketeers.

Reading a character out of a book… or reading yourself into one… Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that? Such adventures to be had! I can’t count the books I’ve read myself into in my imagination. But it only works if you can put the characters and/or yourself back where they belong when you’re done. If you can’t, things get messy.

In Cornelia Funke’s trilogy: Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath, Meggie’s father Mo reads Dustfinger out of the story and into their world. The problem is, Mo can’t put him back, leaving the “fire dancer” stuck here in this world. For ten years, Dustfinger yearns to return to his family in the Inkworld. I empathized with his desperate need to go home and cheered when, in Inkspell, he finally made it back. To me, he is by far the most interesting character in the series, and I was immensely glad for the turn of events that allowed him a happy ending.

When I originally read Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, I never realized the story was based on a real person — Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Comte d’Artagnan. The real D’Artagnan lived from 1611-1673 and was Captain of the Musketeers under Louis XIV of France. Dumas’ D’Artagnan Romances, including the Musketeers, were based on the partly-fictionalized memoirs of D’Artagnan written by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras.

I always loved the adventure, the swordplay, and the camaraderie of D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Of the many movie versions of the Musketeers — and I confess I haven’t seen them all — my favorites are the Richard Lester productions: The Three Musketeers from 1973 and The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge from 1974. The wonderful chemistry of the heroes, played by Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Richard Chamberlain drives the story. Add in plenty of sword fights, derring-do, and slapstick humor, and you’ve got one fun afternoon at the movies. By the end, I’m ready to add my voice to the rousing shout: “All for one, one for all!”

Paul Bettany - Dustfinger in Inkheart, 2008

Paul Bettany – Dustfinger
in Inkheart, 2008
Photo Credit: Inkheart Wikia

Inkheart series

Inkheart series

From Left to Right: Athos/OliverReed D'Artagnan/Michael York Porthos/Frank Finlay Aramis/Richard Chamberlain

From Left to Right:
D’Artagnan/Michael York
Porthos/Frank Finlay
Aramis/Richard Chamberlain


A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 3

C is for — Sidney Carton — from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

I first read this story many years ago. Amidst the horror of the French Revolution, the characters sprang to life for me, their struggles so vivid they still haunt me. Lucie Manette, the loving innocent; her husband Charles Darnay, the French aristocrat who denies his birthright and tries to make good on his own; Madame Defarge, the Revolution personified; and Sydney Carton, the drunken lawyer who feels himself worthless. Carton falls in love with Lucie, and his noble feelings for her allow him to transcend what he considers a wasted life and give the ultimate sacrifice. The triumph and sorrow of the Tale’s ending stayed with me for days.

At the time, my own novel was still in its early stages, and I had no idea where my characters’ adventures would take them. There were a few characters I didn’t know very well, yet — one important character, in particular. But after reading A Tale of Two Cities, I had a sudden epiphany. I could see quite clearly in my mind the path this character was meant to follow. And as my story progressed through Book I : Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, and later, Book II: Trouble By Any Other Name, he grew to be one of my favorites, and he did indeed follow the foreseen path to a hopeful and tragic and fitting end.

Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton A Tale of Two Cities, 1935

Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton
A Tale of Two Cities, 1935
Photo Credit: imdb.com


The A to Z April Blogging Challenge!

I’m excited and a little nervous. This will be my first A to Z Challenge, and for someone who only started blogging less than a month ago, it seems like a huge undertaking. To blog every day for a month. I think I can do it, though. I’m going to give it my best try.

I know I missed the official “Theme Reveal” day, so I’m going to do it today instead. My theme for the Challenge will be “Fictional Favorites.” Each day, I’ll choose a fictional character or two, from books, movies, TV, etc., that start with the appropriate letter and write about why I like them and/or what makes them special to me. It’s been fun coming up with a list, though that in itself has been a bit of a challenge, too — there are just too many characters from which to choose!

Only three more days to go. I’ve got to get writing!