HALLIE: "I'm Hermoine!" comes the breathless announcement. Another person with too much time on his/her hands has taken the Harry Potter Personality Quiz. Or "I'm Ginny." Or "I'm Harry!" God forbid you turned out to be Hagrid.
But it gets me thinking about the March sisters as Louisa May Alcott fictionalized her real sisters in "Little Women." She certainly gave her readers a choice of characters to relate to. There was Jo, the tall gangly one (I used to think of myself as tall and gangly), prickly and rebellious, who wrote in her journal and yearned for an independent life. Louisa May, a spinster, based Jo on herself, and said that if it weren't for her readers' expectations she'd never have had Jo get married.
Like Jo, Louise May was the second oldest of four sisters, a 'middle' child. Jo is especially close to Beth, her gentle, shy, sickly and doomed younger sister. The youngest, the artistic Amy with her blond curls, is vain and spoiled and adorable. The oldest, Meg, is nurturing, rule-bound and proper.
Researching the entry for "Little Women" in "The Bibliophile's Devotional" which comes out next month, I discovered that Louise May was pressured by her publisher to write "Little Women." In her journal she wrote, "I don't enjoy this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters, but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it." (I also discovered that Virginia Woolf doubted the staying power of her own work. Of her "A Room of One's Own," Woolf wrote: "I forecast, then, that I shall get no criticism, except of the evasive jocular kind." Fortunately she was dead wrong.)
So are you a Jo or an Amy? An Alice (in Wonderland) or a Dorothy Gale? A Tarzan or a Jane? Or what other character from literature do you identify with?
RO: I never identified with any of the Little Women...they were all such goody goodies..and the whole Marmy thing put me off. Although my circumstances weren't quite so dire I did have a brief identification with Francie, the little girl in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." I didn't have to sell scrap metal as a child but it was the only book I knew of that was set in Brooklyn...and we were - if not quite as poor - certainly not well off. Then again..I also identified with Joy Adamson who wrote "Born Free." I wasn't exactly an Englishwoman living in Africa and raising lion cubs, but I thought I might be one day. I think it was the fact that she had no real job and got to hang out with animals all day that attracted me. It still does.
JAN: Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice." The intelligent form of Cinderella, isn't that every little girl's dream?? But to show you where my mind is at -- I had to really scrounge around for a female protagonist to relate to, but could immediately tick off three fictional male characters I was in love with....but hey, that's another blog.
HALLIE: That IS an interesting question. I carried the torch for ages for Gilbert Blythe. Points to anyone who remembers whose main squeeze he turned out to be.
ROBERTA: I think I'd have to go with Mole in "The Wind in the Willows." He was very interested in adventures with his pals, especially if they included picnics, but basically a homebody--not a river animal at all. Or maybe Piglet in "Winnie the Pooh":).
HANK: Little Women, no, never connected with them, somehow. Too sad.
I wanted to be Irene Adler, you know? Sherlock Holmes' nemesis and maybe-love? (In Pooh, I'm definitely Eeyore. Roberta, you are, as always, wonderful.) This is an interesting question, actually, since when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a character I can't remember the name of--she was voted the class president in some coming-of-age series of books about teenagers. She was always working really hard, and doing her best, all that. It wasn't Trixie Belden, but it was something like that. And there was some horse-owning girl in a series back then--I think her name was Connemara McGuire. (Oh. And I named my main character Charlotte McNally. I have not thought about that until this second.)
But as a high-schooler, oh, I was in LOVE with Henry V. I mean, I dreamed about him. So I guess I wanted to be...Eleanor of Aquitaine or whoever that was. And oh, Maid Marian, definitely. And Rowena in Ivanhoe.(Or Rebecca, I could never decide.)
HALLIE: Oooh, Irene Adler -- great choice! And I do see Roberta as sweet Piglet or Mole. This question is something of a Rorschach. Does it make you think of the adventures or the clothes or the food or the pets or the men in the characters' lives? Hmm.
So, gentle and not-so-gentle readers... which character is your alter ego? And first person who posts a comment identifying Gilbert Blythe's plucky girlfriend gets a copy of The Bibliophile's Devotional.
And stay tuned. Wednesday we hear from author/chef Lora Brody on cooking for Julia Child (it involves a rubber chicken). Friday Elizabeth Benedict talks about her new book of essays, "Muses, Mentors and Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives."