Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Hero Love

By Kerry Schafer

I've always been a sucker for the secretly tormented bad boy, the wounded hero, and sometimes the damaged but heroic man, who doggedly does the right thing in the face of opposition.

The first I remember? I'd have to say Laurie, in Alcott's Little Women. Not a bad boy, Laurie, just a charming scapegrace. This is the first instance I can recall of being furious with an author. How dare it be written that Laurie and Jo don't venture off to get into more scrapes together? Worse, was the gall of making Laurie grow up into a tame and respectable adult. But I forgave Alcott for this when she presented me with a couple of other characters to love - Dan, who begins as nothing but trouble in Little Men, and grows up in Jo's Boys into a marvelous character who accidentally kills a man and does some prison time. He falls in love with Laurie's spotless and angelic daughter, and Alcott kills him off, heroically and tragically. What else was to be done with a complex character of this type in her very moral books?

Alcott may have had a fondness for these bad boys herself, because she also created the character of Charlie, who appears in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Charlie comes to a most tragic and romantic end, and I clearly remember dissolving into tears of absolute and utter grief over his untimely demise.

Other heroes I have known and loved?

Harry Talvace, in The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters). Harry is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, even though I probably shed more tears over this book than I have over many sad and tragic real life events.

(As an aside, while writing this post I had a quick look at Amazon to refresh my mind on the details of this book, and was incensed by a line out of the Publisher's Weekly review: "...they are well plotted and proficiently detailed in their depictions of domesticity, history, architecture and warfare, but they may disappoint some Cadfael fans, for they lack the crisp, canny characterization and punchy action of Pargeter/Peters's craft at its most maturely honed." Strange. I don't remember a single character out of the half a dozen Cadfael books I read, but Harry, Madonna Benedetta, and Isambard are engraved permanently in my memory.)

Mr. Rochester, the epitome of the dark, brooding, tortured hero, is another love of mine. I have loved him long and well, through multiple editions, including one in French.

I have two current crushes, both heroes of crime fiction. One of these is Alex Delaware - the adventurous but still sensitive psychologist crime solver created by Jonathan Kellerman. I am, truly, in love with Alex. I read his books for just another glimpse at him and his life. I want to have dinner with him, hang out with him, and then, maybe -

Well. That's between me and Alex.

Another is Richard Jury, Martha Grimes' oh so eligible detective. Richard tugs at my heart strings. So sweet, so handsome and smart and oh so lonely. The poor man has such a talent for falling in love with unavailable women. I would treat him better, if only some day we could meet.


  1. Ah, Mr. Rochester. Come lay your weary head on my shoulder.

  2. Kellerman and Grimes are definitely on my TBR list!