Re-reading the last three volumes of the Forsyte Chronicles (Maid in Waiting, Flowering Wilderness and Over the River) for the first time in more than twenty years I’ve decided that Dinny Cherrell is one of my favourite heroines.
The trilogy (the End of the Chapter) begins after the death of Soames Forsyte and spans the late 1920s and early 1930s, a time when the old values of empire and church are being challenged. Dinny belongs to a traditional family who have long served the state as soldiers, clergymen and administrators, but falls fatally in love with the poet Wilfrid Desert. Galsworthy may romanticise his female characters in these last three volumes – they are all beautiful and have too many men falling in love with them – but Dinny is remarkable in that she is also brave, loyal and unselfish. Things don’t go well for her, but she will carry on and make something of her life that matters…
There must be modern heroines whom I admire, but one doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Does this mean we look for different qualities in a twenty-first century heroine?
Which heroines are favourites for other people – for varying reasons – in both traditional and modern fiction? We might think of our favourite heroes too…
Caroline Holland said:
Imogen in The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins is one of my favourite heroines from books read in the last year. Heroines of her era would be greeted with amazement by their modern counterparts – and possibly not regarded as heroines at all.
Yes absolutely, for Imogen watches the destruction of her marriage in apparent helplessness and does nothing…until the unforgettable end of the novel. Definitely not a modern heroine (the setting is an immaculate evocation of the fifties) but Elizabeth Jenkins’ portrait of Imogen is subtly and perfectly drawn with each faultless sentence. Hilary Mantel’s superb introduction to the novel does it full justice.