My Top Ten….Books I Wish I Was A Character From (Part I)

My top ten list topic this week is courtesy of my friend Greg!  I’ll be choosing my top ten books I wish I could be a character from!  It was so difficult to pick just ten characters, I’ve read enough books for this to be a big challenge.  Without further ado, here they are!

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10.) Laura Ingalls Wilder – These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I’ve always thought it would be super interesting to have lived during prairie times.  The lack of indoor plumbing and rough manual labor would be enough to turn some people down, but I find the way of life back then to be fascinating.  People worked hard for the things they had and it created strong constitutions and strong work ethics.  People were protective of their family and friends and helped each other in rough times.  For me, being a true romantic at heart, it’s the courtship that occurred back then that makes me want to be Laura the most.  When Laura is 16 she gets her teaching certification and moves away from her family to try to help earn money for her sister Mary’s schooling.  The stress of her new job and the distance from her family causes her to become very melancholy and homesick.  At the end of her first week as a teacher her crush, Almanzo Wilder, shows up to take her back home to see her family.  This happily begins a tradition as he takes her to and from school each weekend.  The two, much to Laura’s delight, begin courting and after three years become engaged.  It’s this book that I would most like to be Laura from.  To be courted in the old ways would be so exciting to me!  Men like Almanzo are incredibly hard to find these days.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy that would have waited three years for his first kiss with the girl he loved.  It was a different time back then, than it is today, so I guess had I grown up back then it wouldn’t have been so hard to believe. But I digress, I think the biggest reason I would have loved living back then was that fact that life was so much simpler then. 

9.) Hercule Poirot – Agatha Christie’s Mystery Series

How awesome would it be to be a world-renowned genius at solving mysteries?  How awesome would it be to be a world-renowned genius at solving mysteries and have an AWESOME mustache on top of it?? Pretty damn awesome if you ask me.  I’ve always been a huge fan of mysteries and always wished I could solve mysteries like Hercule.  Poirot is smart, observant, witty, personable, has saved lives, and put criminals in jail.  Poirot is so so smart and I really wish I could make my brain put puzzles together like his so that I could do some good!

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8.) Mary Boleyn – The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I find the life of a royal court to be completely interesting.  The dinners, parties, dances, and courtly love are all completely fascinating to me.  To be able to live such an opulent life would be incredibly interesting.  The downfall to being Mary Boleyn of course would be the loss of independence as a female.  Woman didn’t have much power to choose anything about the path of their lives – there were no careers – woman were just used as sexual objects to garner titles, land, and wealth for their families.  The reason I want to be Mary is because she refused to just be a pawn in her family’s game.  She went against them, marrying a nobody and deciding that court life was not for her.  She became a strong, independent woman in a time where there weren’t strong, independent women.  That garners my respect, and my wish to step into her shoes. 

7.)  Alice – Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I’ve often wondered how many people wish they could have taken a trip down the rabbit hole and seen the things Alice saw.  The once in a lifetime experiences of playing croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs, having tea with the mad hatter, being surprised by the Cheshire cat, and meeting a high, knowledgable caterpillar are all experiences I wish I myself could have had.  I’m a cautious person by nature, so I’m not sure that I would have followed the “eat me” and “drink me” signs that Alice encountered, but I definitely would have played croquet with the queen (as long as she avoided saying “off with her head!).  

6.) The Pevensie Children – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter have probably the coolest “oops” life ever.  Whilst playing hide and seek, Lucy decides to hide in an old wardrobe and finds herself in a mystical land named Narnia.  She convinces her siblings to go with her back through the wardrobe to Narnia, where after a major battle for control of the land they become the Kings and Queens spoken of in a famous prophecy.  The rule Narnia for many years until one day they find the entrance back out through the wardrobe and return to the life they left behind.  I forgot to mention that they return to this life exactly how they left it, not having aged a day.  I think it’s awesome that they were able to experience and live two whole lifetimes that were completely different from one another.  Lewis does a great job creating Narnia, and weaves childhood fantasies of faraway lands and talking animals in with relatable characters to create the ultimate exciting dream for anyone, child or adult.

Join me tomorrow for the conclusion of my top ten books I wish I could be a character from!! Make sure to leave me some comments on who you’d want to be!

Todd’s Review of The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I’ll admit it: when I first set out to read this book I was skeptical.  I looked at the cover, depicting Mary Boleyn looking aside, dressed in full regency regalia, and thought that this was definitely not a book for me.  All I could imagine was a bad romance novel, written in the Tudor era, full of wistful love scenes and a sappy storyline.  Believe me, it was none of these things.  Adventurous, exciting, and full of backstabbing drama, this book depicted the Boleyn family as I’ve never seen them before.  The lengths to which Anne goes to secure her position as Queen of England are at times horrifying, as her sister Mary can do nothing but sit by and become enveloped in the drama as it unfolds.

Gregory begins the novel with depicting Mary’s life in Henry VIII’s court.  She intricately depicts the facade that all the players of the court undergo to ultimately please the King.  Her family’s absolute devotion to their advancement in court is almost horrifying as they become more and more ruthless in their quest to win the King’s favor.  Mary becomes the King’s mistress, as she attempts to strike a balance between pleasing him and remaining loyal to Queen Katherine, who is well aware of the King’s antics.  Above all, Mary wishes for a life outside of court, as she tires of the incessant game that they play.  She has lived the majority of her life at court, and pines to return to Hever, where her son and daughter by Henry reside.

The novel continues with Anne’s assention to power, as she supplants Mary as the King’s favorite and begins to develop an ego that grows just as large as Henry’s appetite for women and food.  As she continues on her quest to become Queen, Anne becomes more ruthless, stopping at nothing to ensure that she remains in Henry’s favor.  The pace of the novel quickens, and although Mary remains the main character, Anne becomes a central focus.  Her insensitivity to everyone around her grows until she becomes downright terrifying, battling back rumors of infidelity that rock the entire court.

Despite knowing the ultimate fate of Anne, it was still incredibly interesting to read Gregory’s take on her life and that of her sister.  I found Mary to be an interesting and strong character, who grew into an independent woman who took her life into her own hands.  The ways in which she brazenly disobeyed her family to ensure her own happiness in life were really awesome, and I actually found myself rooting for her as she tried to escape the clutches of the court.  It continued to amaze me how Anne and Mary’s parents and uncle basically used them as bargaining chips in their bid for the throne.

Although the novel is a bit long at 672 pages, her attention to detail is what held my attention through the beginning and middle of the book.  She intricately describes the politics and rules of court life, and weaves quite a bit of history into the story, expanding on the constant desire of England to conquer France and Spain and Henry’s ever-expanding breadth of power within his own country.  One thing that did get to me was the length of time it took for the book to reach the climactic end.  Knowing a bit about English history I knew what Anne’s fate was, yet it took quite a lot of escalation of the plot to finally reach that point.  How it was executed (no pun intended) was really very cool.  The way in which we see the plot unfold through Mary’s eyes was a clever twist and something I didn’t see coming.  All in all Gregory definitely kept me entertained through and through.

All in all, although I did judge this book by its cover, I’m glad I read though it.  It gave me a new perspective on the Tudor era, and opened me to the world of historical fiction!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Simon and Schuster Adult Publishing Group (2002)
Paperback 672 pages
ISBN: 9780743227445
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