From Booking Through Thursday:
Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)
Like most who are answering this, I have more than one. I'll have to agree with those who named Jane Eyre, and I also like Lucy Snowe from Bronte's Villette. Lucy is similar to Jane in many ways, but even more alone in the world, so her achievement in finally finding a niche for herself is all the more commendable.
With Jane Austen, I rather prefer Anne Elliot from Persuasion. Anne is older than other Austen heroines and doesn't have the sparkling wit of Elizabeth or Emma, but she has integrity, intelligence, loyalty, and a quiet strength that make her most appealing.
Someone mentioned Mildred from Barbara Pym's Excellent Women. I agree with that, and also like Jane from Pym's Jane and Prudence. Both have an appealingly sardonic streak about them.
I'm fond of Lizzie from Our Mutual Friend. Like most Dickens heroines, she's a little on the perfect side, but I like her anyway. She's strong, self-reliant, and gentle, and the scenes where she saves Eugene Wrayburn (one of my favorite heroes, by the way) from drowning, then marries him when she believes him to be dying, are very moving. I also like Bella from the same novel. (Bet you didn't know that the nicknames of two of the minor characters in The Traitor's Wife, Elizabeth "Lizzie" le Despenser and Isabel "Bella" de Hastings are veiled tributes to the heroines of Our Mutual Friend.)
I'm trying to think of a heroine from historical fiction to put on the list. (Of course, I'm rather fond of my own heroines, Eleanor de Clare and Bess de Montacute.) It's difficult, because the novels I prefer feature real historical figures, and it all depends on how they're portrayed. If one counts A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as historical fiction, Francie Nolan--a gritty, sensitive, talented girl growing up in turn of the century Brooklyn, is a favorite of mine. I'm sure there are others. It's a question I'll ponder throughout the day.