Blog

Candice Carty Williams on her Favourite Heroic Women in Literature

Posted on 12th February 2020 by Mark Skinner

In Queenie Jenkins, Candice Carty Williams has created one of the most memorable female protagonists in twenty-first century fiction. In this exclusive article the author of Queenie, the Waterstones Book of the Month for February, reveals her favourite heroic literary women.  

My character, Queenie, spends the whole novel trying to understand how to be her own personal hero, and she was borne out of my love of heroic women in literature. Women who were varying in strength, but still powerful in character. When I was asked to choose some of my favourite literary heroes, they were all ready for selection) at the front of my mind. From Nancy in Oliver Twist to Adrian Mole’s grandmother by way of Sephy in Noughts and Crosses, here are six characters who taught me all of the different but powerful faces that heroism can have.

Georgia Nicholson from Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

I don’t think I’ve had an interview where I haven’t cited Georgia as one of the best female characters of all time. I think she’s the funniest literary creation I’ve ever read, and when I came to her when I was around thirteen, I really needed her.  She’s the central cog in her friendship group, she’s kind of selfish, but she’s charming and she’s hilarious. She also isn’t always likeable. Remind you of anyone?

£6.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
The blueprint for all the awkward, likeable teenage heroines who came after, Georgia Nicholson is a fabulous comic creation and Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging sings with Rennison’s impeccable timing and warm-hearted, laugh-out-loud set-pieces. A landmark work of funny YA fiction.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

Edna May Mole in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Another book that basically informed my entire youth, I’ve got to give a shout out not just to the whole Mole family, but specifically to Adrian’s grandmother, Edna. Remember when Adrian was being bullied by Barry Kent and nobody really did anything about it? And then his grandma found out that Barry had been stealing Adrian’s pocket money? And said ‘wait here.’ And then came back with all of the money that Barry had been stealing? How could she not be a hero? That’s hero energy right there. 

£6.99 £5.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
Townsend’s comic masterpiece rests on immaculate characterisation, wry observation and genuine compassion. The tortured journal of a precious teenager whose genius remains woefully unacknowledged, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ has become a true national treasure.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

Nancy from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Nancy really went through it, didn’t she? Nancy was kind, she was loyal, she was loving, caring, and became unofficial big sister to a group of street urchins who were adamant on taking up any personal time she got for herself when she wasn’t running after Bill Sikes. Long live Nancy. She taught me how to be selfless, and what it was to be a tart with a heart (as she’s so lovingly often described). Nancy met such a horrible end, didn’t she? In my mind I pretend she managed to kill Bill before he could get her first. Either way, she’s still strength personified.

£6.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
Dickens’ second novel lays aside the rambling bonhomie of The Pickwick Papers in favour of a scathing attack on Victorian poverty and a dark, violent coming of age in the backstreets of London. Gifting the world such iconic characters as the brutal Bill Sikes, manipulative Fagin and tragic Nancy, Oliver Twist is ample demonstration of its author’s meteoric artistic rise.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

Rachel Samstat in Heartburn by Nora Ephron

I myself have been described once or twice (or countless times) as neurotic, and that’s fine because so is Rachel Samstat, the autobiographical imagining of Ephron herself. One of my best friends forced me to read this on a train while she slept opposite me (probably so that I could stop disturbing her with my neurotic questions) and I laughed so much at the relatability of the main character that I disturbed her anyway. Sorry, Lettice, maybe you should get some more boring friends???

£9.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
Ephron’s own marital woes fuel this acidly hilarious novel about a cookery writer’s romantic misadventures. Sprinkled liberally with both delicious recipes and one-liners, Heartburn is a marvel of precision engineered prose and biting, satirical characterisation.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

Sephy (Persephone) Hadley in Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Honestly. This young woman. Her strength. Her power. Her fight. The love in her heart. Her bravery. I don’t actually think I know how many times I read Noughts and Crosses as a teenager. That Sephy was brave enough to love the enemy against all odds cements her as one of my all time heroes in anything I’ve read or watched. And that ending? I want to cry onto the page about it but I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are slacking and haven’t read it yet. That Sephy could even carry on and be strong in all five books in the series? In creating Sephy, Malorie Blackman gave us one of those heroes whose power is strong, steady and enduring.

£7.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
A dystopian Romeo and Juliet that makes eloquent statements about race relations and the burning passions of the teenage heart, Noughts and Crosses is absolutely pivotal in the evolution of the Young Adult novel. The first of an astonishingly consistent series from former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Noughts and Crosses stands as trailblazing work of literature.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

Sethe in Beloved by Toni Morrison

So many of my literary heroes are black women who are completely oppressed by a burden we can never know, and Sethe really tops that list. She is literally haunted by her dead daughter, who returns as a ghost to upheave Sethe’s whole life. Beloved isn’t a story of overcoming and triumph, it’s a story of living with a pain of your own making that’s in turn a making of the environment you’re in. The character of Sethe is a masterclass in black women’s endurance, in fragile strength, and in a heroism that comes at a painful price. 

£9.99 £7.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Usually dispatched within 24 hours
The seminal work from a giant of modern literature, Beloved is so much more than the sum of its compelling parts. Part ghost story, part profound reflection on the evils of slavery, Morrison’s Pulitzer-winning masterpiece synthesises myriad themes and ideas into a scorching, emotionally devastating narrative.
  • This item has been added to your basket
View basket Checkout

 

 

Comments

There are currently no comments.