There are many serious things I could be writing about today, but if I start on anything I think I may moan – the rest of the UK is knee deep in snow and everyone’s on holiday, except for here, where we have just enough snow to be a nuisance whilst we plow back and forth to work in the freezing temperatures. It’s very depleting. So I’m going to do a fun meme that I saw at The Broke and the Bookish, which invites you to name your top ten fictional best friends. It gave me a fun half hour, thinking who I’d hang out with from the fictional world.
Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot – To begin with I thought just about any creation from Jane Austen’s pen would be ideal friend material. I love her world because it is so polite and loving and thoughtful. But then I remembered that she has a fantastic line in ghastly false friends, like the awful Isabella Whatsherface from Northanger Abbey, and I wouldn’t want to enter Emma Woodhouse’s orbit either. But Elinor is such a loyal and loving person and she so needs a friend, whilst the wise and temperate Anne Elliot would want to talk about books all the time – lovely.
Miss Marple – I just want to sit near her while she knits and passes judgement on her fellow human beings.
Mrs Ramsay and Lily Briscoe – from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Somehow I felt I needed them both. Mrs Ramsay is a wonderful, inspirational person but a bit hard to take with her eternal pronouncements. Lily is her sweetener, her light relief but a bit insubstantial without Mrs Ramsay’s ballast. Together they make one perfect person.
V. I. Warshawski – from Sara Paretski’s crime novels. I always liked V. I., for her wise-cracking wit, her fierce ethics, her wisdom from bitter experience. Just the kind of person you’d want to sit down with for an hour or so to set the world to rights, and then laugh about it afterwards.
Colette – as her fictionalized self. When I wrote half a PhD on Colette, I fell in love with her. She appears in many of her novels and stories as the narrator, supposedly as ‘herself’, and what a fine, epicurean self she is. Level-headed, insightful, laid-back, charming, sharply perceptive. It came as an awful shock to read Judith Thurman’s biography and realize the real Colette was altogether more human and flawed. So I’ll happily take the literary version as a best friend.
Jeeves – I don’t think I could take much of Bertie Wooster at a time, but I adore Jeeves. So serene in a crisis! So intelligent! So calm and competent! I’d even take up drinking tea again to be able to sit with him in his little kitchen while he solves all my problems for me.
Emma Bovary – not that I think she’s the loveliest person ever, but I’ve never come across another fictional female so desperately in need of a really good woman friend. Emma would be alive and well by the end of the book if she’d had someone to pour her heart out to, who would sympathise with her and give her some much needed straight-talking advice.
Fanny Radlett – from Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. Because she seems such a fun person, and she’s related to all those disastrous, excessive Radletts (read: the Mitford family), and other people’s anecdotes about their terrible relatives are always so entertaining to hear.
Jack Reacher – from Lee Child’s thrillers. Everyone needs a friend they can really count on in their hour of need. If I were ever to get kidnapped, or held hostage, or imprisoned or threatened by desperate criminals, then this is the man I’d want to call my friend. He’d get me out of trouble in no time.
Paddington Bear – because he always struck me as so adorable. I’ll bet he’d love to be taken around Cambridge to see the Christmas lights, and I would make sure to hold his paw very firmly, so he couldn’t wander off and cause mayhem.