For International Women’s Day, we are celebrating our favorite “difficult” women in books.
I love reading about women who live their lives the way they want to live them, whether we call them strong, difficult, or even unlikable. It’s one of the reasons I read so much romance, it’s a genre where difficult women are rewarded with love and success. I asked four Cannonballers to share some of their favorite difficult women, fictional and real, from books.
Teresalectro sings the praises of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan: “Trouble ALWAYS finds Rachel Morgan in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. She loves tight leather and sexy boots, no matter the occasion. As a former magical government agent turned private detective, she is sort of in the business of danger. She never takes the easy road, which means things get very interesting! She very literally can’t be contained. The magic police, the vamps, the witch council, the elves, AND the demons all try to use her in their power grabs. When Rachel Morgan is backed in a corner, that’s when things get really wild. I have a few more books to go and pleased as punch Harrison returned to The Hollows with American Demon last year.”
MsWas gets to watch her favorite difficult woman on TV too. “My favorite difficult woman is Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Of course the modern woman thrown back in time is going to be difficult, but she also encounters plenty of like-minded women, from a nun to a madam of brothel, so we encounter more than just Claire’s anachronistic opinions. Claire’s modern, educated inner dialogue is something that’s still seems a little awkward on TV, but it’s one of my favorite aspects of the series. I love reading the thoughts of this smart woman, especially when it comes to weighing in on idiots–in any century.”
AndtheIToldYouSos turns to three real life women. “Catherine ‘Cathy’ Leroy, Frances ‘Frankie’ Fitzgerald, and Kate Webb all marched themselves to the frontlines of Vietnam and Cambodia despite their countries, their male coworkers, and the world at large doing everything in their power to hold them back. These women were branded immediately as “difficult” by their male peers. Despite being forces of nature (parachuting into occupied territory, surviving mortar fire, and stringing along a besotted Henry Kissinger- just to name a few of their adventures) they were constantly put down and set aside for being “unladylike”. Were they tough, gruff, and often argumentative? Of course- but they did what they had to do to muscle their way in and to survive.”
Credit to JenK for suggesting the topic. “When I first started The Broken Earth trilogy, I wasn’t sure where it was going with the main character; it starts with her discovering her dead toddler aged son, and then pursuing her missing daughter – as the world literally and figuratively falls around her, Essun is on a mission to find her child. As the trilogy goes on, Essun becomes so much more than a driven mother – we discover her back story, her complexity, we see her make connections and turn people away in her present day. At no point does she become someone that is easy to like – her world is too complicated for that, she is a survivor, and she makes the tough calls; sometimes she accidentally hurts people in the process. Even her relationship with her remaining child is nowhere as simple as expected – her desire to protect also made her the strict and harsh parent. And yet, as the novels go on, you can’t help but root for her, want her to rebuild the world, want her to succeed and lead those around her. ”
Who are your favorite difficult women in books? Tell us about them in the comments.