Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of SS Readers Corner. This post contains spoilers so kindly skim it if you don’t want too know in detail.
I love publishing a post on Tuesday because of The Broke and The Bookish‘s ‘Top Ten Tuesday‘. It is a weekly meme/feature that encourages bloggers to discuss about books. Today’s topic is ‘Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels’.
At first, I had trouble coming out with a list of character-driven books because I wasn’t sure of the characteristics. I consulted my best friend Google, who suggested this link for clarification. Once I had understood the difference between character-driven and plot-driven, I came out with this list. 🙂
Strong-willed women in Victorian era
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre is one of many fictional characters that I admire. Despite her low social status, she is independent and intelligent. She possesses a strong sense of self-worth and dignity, as indicated in this quote:
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”
Furthermore, Jane is unwilling to compromise her beliefs and principle. I really like it that when Jane found out about Bertha Mason, she would not lower herself to the part of a mistress so she left Mr Rochester. As fate would have it, Jane and Mr Rochester were reunited at the end.
‘Emma’ by Jane Austen
At the start of the novel, I did not like Emma because she was self-conceited, spoilt and immature. Despite her shortcomings, I like that she was uninterested in looking out for a husband of her own. She made a few errors in judgement but with the guidance of and advices from Mr Knightley and Harriet Smith, she learned from those mistakes and became a responsible lady. I also like that Emma’s love interest is present right from the very beginning of the story, as opposed to that romantic hero in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. He had always been there for Emma.
Marriage of convenience
‘Devil in Winter’ by Lisa Kleypas
This book is one of my favourite re-reads. If you have read ‘It Happened One Autumn’ (book #2 in Wallflowers series), you would know that Sebastian St Vincent is a selfish womaniser. In ‘Devil in Winter’ (book #3), Sebastian and Evangeline “Evie” Jenner agreed to a marriage of convenience. It was a pleasant surprise to read how Sebastian became a better man. I just love the quote below because it indicates that Evie noticed the change in him and wanted to take their marriage to the next level:
“Life was too uncertain to waste time. There was no guarantee that Sebastian would be faithful to her. She had nothing but hope—and the instinct that although the man she had initially married was not deserving of such faith, the man he was becoming just might be.”
If you’d like to find out more about Sebastian’s transformation without reading the book, click here.
‘Kiss an Angel’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Daisy Devreaux was a flighty rich girl who was forced into marrying a no-nonsense circus worker named Alex Markov. Despite her flaws, Daisy had a big heart and likeable personality. Even though she has never worked hard before, her time in the circus has taught her to be hard working and appreciative of the value of money (as showed in the quote below):
“I’m not making any long-term predictions. One day at a time is the most I can manage right now.” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and frowned. “All I know is that I have to do this.”
“Daisy, it’s too much work.”
“I know.” She smiled. “That’s why I have to do it.”
I just enjoy everything about this book: character growth, the plot, the humour and even the circus setting. ‘Kiss an Angel’ is another book that I enjoy reading repeatedly.
A single woman in a modern world
‘P.S. I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern
I choose this novel because of the way the author sets up the character to grow emotionally. I love it that Gerry sets monthly tasks for Holly in his love letters. It was really tough facing life after the death of a loved one. However Holly had the support of her family and friends. It was a pleasure to read Holly transforms from a naïve, husband-dependent young woman to a woman ready to face any life challenges.
If you would like to read Gerry’s love letters, visit this link. My favourite letter is the fourth one. ❤
‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding
I haven’t read the book yet but have watched the movie. Hence I’m evaluating the book based on the movie.
‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ is relatable – Bridget is a normal everyday woman who struggles with her weight, smoking, drinking and men. I first watched the movie when I had self-esteem issues so I could identify with her character. Yes, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ is fluffy but it does teach readers/movie-goers one important lesson: to truly accept yourself. That line spoken by Mark Darcy “I like you very much. Just as you are.” shows that people who really love you will accept you regardless of your flaws.
Coming of age tales
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky
The book was a speedy read (two days) for me yet it was rich and thought-provoking. It was great to read Charlie grew from a socially-awkward introspective teenager to a more participative and not-so-shy young man. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ touches on issues such as social belonging, first love, peer pressure, familial relationship, student-teacher relationship and even mental health. The epilogue left me gobsmacked and I am not going to divulge more!
‘About a Boy’ by Nick Hornby
I shall write based on my movie experience since I haven’t read the original source. The movie, which starred Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult and Toni Collette, was well-made.
This story shows that age does not define maturity. Will, a 30-something man, thinks he is cool and acts like a college boy. Marcus is a 12-year old boy who has an old soul. Despite their different personalities, I like the interactions between both characters because they learned so much from each other.
Multiple character arcs
‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding
If you like observing/learning about group behaviour, then this book is a fine example. ‘Lord of the Flies’ is about a group of schoolboys who were deserted on an island after a plane crash and had to survive on their own. There are 3 characters (Ralph, Jack and Piggy) that readers could analyse and compare based on their leadership potential. Ralph was elected as leader because of his charisma and likeability. Jack wasn’t happy with Ralph’s promotion so he formed his own group to rule. Piggy was intellectual but due to his unfavourable physical appearance (overweight, spectacles-wearing), other boys overlooked his opinions.
As the story progresses, readers learn more about their characteristics and leadership capabilities. I was shocked by the twist and the ending left me unsatisfied. Nevertheless, the book was a good read and deserves a space in my bookshelf.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien
I have only seen the movies therefore I’m using them as a guide. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a good example to study multiple characters. What I like about Frodo is that he took his responsibility very seriously. He had never gone out of his hometown before nor been in a life-or-death situation. Yet he willingly accepted the risky challenge despite his limitations. My favourite character in the movies is Aragorn. Despite being an heir to the throne of Gondor, he was unfazed by the title. He had a pure heart and wasn’t tempted to steal the ring for his own use. As the plot thickens, Aragorn became comfortable with his royal identity and led an army of men to defeat enemies in Mordor.
If you’d like to learn more about ‘LOTR’ archetypes, visit this link.
Do you agree with my choice of character-driven novels? Perhaps you could recommend me your favourite character-driven books. Feel free to share your comments and/or links in the box below.