Wednesday 1st July 2015
Long before I knew what love was I was falling in love with fictional characters, as most people do. I have always been a voracious reader so it seemed only natural that I would discover perfection, or lovable imperfection in the dream worlds of my favourite authors.
Here’s my top 10 fictional crushes (in no particular order):
1. Sorensen Carlisle in ‘The Changeover’ by Margaret Mahy
With his youthful good looks, powerful charisma and not to mention – magic powers – Sorenson Carlisle was quite the teenage heartthrob when I was 15 years old. I used to fantasize that he would help me ‘changeover’ and then I would become who I was truly meant to be – A Witch. And we would live happily ever after.
2. Rhett Butler in ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell
I watched Gone with the Wind years before I read the book so by that stage I was already in love with Rhett Butler. It had less to do with Clark Gable than the rambunctious charm and silver-fox appeal of Rhett himself. If I were ever stuck in the middle of a civil war with a sick woman and a new-born baby, there is no man I would want but Rhett. I feel like he would accept my wild impulsive nature, and encourage me to be independent and seek my own fate. Maybe he would grab me passionately in his arms and say ‘You need to be kissed and by a man who knows how’. Sigh.
3. Gilbert Blythe in ‘The Anne of Green Gables/ Avonlea etc series’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery
It’s strange that my mum read me a picture book version of Anne of Green Gables when I was 6 or 7 and I thought nothing of Gilbert Blythe. I think I was glad I didn’t have long hair so that no annoying boy could pull it and yell carrots. It did not occur to me that I didn’t have red hair so the insult carrots would have been redundant. Somehow, re-reading it years later, and later Anne of the Island, I fell in love with Gilbert Blythe. I sensed his shy soulfulness and his devotion to Anne and part of the attraction was wanting someone to want me like that.
4. Gabriel in ‘The Secret Sacrament’ by Sheryl Jordon
The Secret Sacrament was my favourite book in year 8. I lived, ate, breathed The Secret Sacrament. It basically lived in my desk even though we were meant to return it to the SSR shelf in the class. Later when I won a voucher to Dymocks it was the first book I bought. My mum tried to convince me I would get sick of it in a couple of years but I insisted I would always love it and you know what, I still do. Gabriel will always be the face I imagine when I hear the hymn ‘Eagles Wings’, I imagine his golden high cheekbones giving way to feathers and angels wings beating behind his shoulders. His self-sacrifice and his vulnerability, his courage and love for Ashila, will always have a special place in my heart.
5. Rahel in ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
Forced to witness the death of a man they loved as a child for no fault of his own, Rahel breaks the love laws again as an adult, the only way she knows how. They are the laws that dictate who she can love, and how and how much. Perhaps because I have broken the love laws myself, perhaps because in her I see my vulnerability and hunger for love, perhaps because I sense a connection with her unreachable depths, I love Rahel and want to save her from herself.
6. Rudy Steiner in ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak
I read The Book Thief in late November last year and couldn’t put it down. It was such an endearing, heart-wrenching book about the friendship between Liesle and the young Jewish man hiding in her basement as well as her friendship with Rudy Steiner, her ‘Saukerl’. Rudy stood by her when she had no one, he understood her need to drop bread crumbs for the Jews being marched to concentration camps, he stopped her from going out into the crowd and getting whipped, he stole books with her when he didn’t know why she was taking them. Rudy was the boy who was with her no questions asked and would have stood beside her and in front of her if he thought her life was in danger. He died thinking of her and she wished she could have kissed him while he was still breathing. I will always wish I had a blonde-haired blue-eyed Rudy beside me.
7. Dicey in The Tillerman Series by Cynthia Voight
The first book I read in The Tillerman series was ‘A Solitary Blue’. In fact I read it 3 times in a row as it was the only book I had on a one week holiday in Fiji. I was moved by Jeff and his relationship with his mother, everything he had gone through with her manipulation. But more so by the girl who pulled him back – Dicey. Dicey is strong. She is resilient. She is protective of her family and loves fiercely. She is everything I want to be and so perhaps it is my ego that loves her more than my body does. In her I see the woman I want to be one day and parts of myself, parts of someone stronger. It’s easy to see her Achilles heel is her family and in that I want to save her from the hurt this will bring.
8. Sonia in ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Sonia was also something of a Mother Theresa, role-model figure to me. Forced into prostitution at the age of 17 or 18, she is one of the redemptive figures in the great Russian classic. I read it at the age of 15 and it was a really hard read for me but so rewarding. Sonia was one of the main reasons I finished the novel. She sees the good in Raskolnikov and finally at the end of the book he begins to treat her the way she has treated him all along. She’s an inspiration and an aspiration and I saw something saintly in her, an adulation to someone I could never be.
9. Holly Golightly in ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’ by Truman Capote
I fell in love with Holly Golightly the moment she walked out of her bedroom in the body of Audrey Hepburn and said she had the mean reds, wearing nothing but a man’s dinner shirt and an eye mask. Audrey Hepburn brought Holly Golightly or Luna Mae to life on screen, but she stayed true to the spirit of the Holly Capote wrote of. When I read the book, I saw her through Frank’s eyes – this tired broken lonely girl who was trying desperately to find some meaning in her life and latched onto anyone who could pull her out of this sorry existence. She looked for love in all the wrong places and like Frank, I felt like maybe I could save her too. I would have loved to sit in the library with her, have parties and escape through fire escapes, window-shop at Tiffany’s and even shop lift an animal mask from a store if that’s what she wanted to do.
10. Robert Kincaid in ‘Bridges of Madison County’ by Robert James Waller
The Bridges of Madison County was a name I heard a lot as a kid but I never knew the reference, or if people were talking about a movie or a book. When I first read the novel as a teenager, I was swept away by Robert Kincaid, this independent nature photographer who treated a lonely housewife like she was something special, who respected her as a human being and gave her the attention she deserved. Their short-lived romance was one that kept them alive and hoping for a reunion, at some point in the future. I would love to meet a man who could make me come alive like that.