My New Best Friends

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.


40 thoughts on “My New Best Friends

  1. Ditto Jeeves. I actually had to stop reading Wodehouse at a certain period in my life, because I would get so depressed that there wasn’t anyone even remotely resembling Jeeves anywhere in my life. That’s kind of sad, but what’s actually quite funny is the number of people to whom I serve a very Jeeves-ian function … including coming up with explanations for events that sound entirely authoritative but which are actually massive pieces of creative spin doctoring.

      • Five years on from this comment, I now can’t read Wodehouse because I find it so depressing that anyone could write such amusing nonsense about a world in which someone’s biggest life-threatening problem is the disappointing sale of an antique cow-creamer to a rival collector.

      • But that’s the very essence of its appeal for most of us Wodehouse fans. The more life-threatening the problems in this seemingly endlessly tawdry world, the greater the need for the world of Wodehouse.

      • Oh, I know…and for most of my life, I was in that camp myself. Just lately, the frothy delight of it chokes me a bit…which I found surprising, when I recently tried to re-read an old favorite. I was a devout Wodehouse fan through my teen years and twenties, but now my consolation reading tends to be Beckett, which really makes me feel that no matter how terrible my life is, at least it didn’t take me 600 pages to leave my house and fall into a ditch.

  2. I’m with your son–if it’s going to snow it might as well be enough to get the day off from school/work or not at all! It’s sunny out my window (a marvel), but really cold. I like this meme and may have to borrow it from you. I agree about Emma–she did need a good friend. It does help to share problems and she had no relief. And Miss Marple would be wonderfully cheery and entertaining–funny to think she is so often messed up in murder. Paddington Bear was my favorite when I was young–I haven’t thought of him in years–what a comforting thought, though.

  3. What a wonderful meme! Your answers are, I’m ashamed to admit, completely unknown to me as I have yet to read ANY of the works these characters star in. Well, except for Paddington Bear… Will add a few of these titles to my TBR list and will certainly post my own best friends soon. Thanks for sharing, LL! [You certainly sound like you’d make a lovely friend to all.]

  4. Yes, Jeeves is great, although I have to admit that I’m seeing the actor Stephen Fry in my mind as I imagine him.

    Wouldn’t Nick Carraway be a good friend to have, too?

  5. Anne Elliot would make the best friend ever, almost like Jane Bennett but with flaws so you don’t feel like you’re much,much worse than she is.

    Great that you want to be friends with Emma Bovary because she could use a female friend. I can think of a whole list of characters like that 🙂

  6. Oh yes! Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot, for sure. They are my all time best favourite fictional characters… just too bad only fictional. And I’d probably include Elizabeth Bennet for a dash of fun. BTW, there are a few JA based movies in the making, with a new ‘postmodern spin’. Just thought you might be interested… I’ve a long list of upcoming books into films. 😉

  7. I think I could happily hang out with Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot. I love that you chose Paddington Bear as one of your friends. I bet he’d be great when you need a hug 🙂

  8. You wrote half a PhD on Colette? That’s original! I’ve never met anybody who studied Colette before (except fellow students from years ago who did the same diploma as I did and studied La Chatte as part of a course on animals in literature).

  9. This was so much fun to read. Paddington would definitely enjoy the lights. One of my kids has a Paddington bear, complete with yellow raincoat and hat. The hat lands in the most mysterious of places. I think he’s wondering about when we aren’t looking.

  10. This is a great idea – it’s really got me thinking.

    How about a meme for favorite literary men? I’d probably have to put Gatsby on my list 🙂 And maybe Yuri Zhivago…and Peter Lynley (from Elizabeth George’s mystery series)…

  11. Pingback: listing fun / fictional BFFs | Tailfeather

  12. Pingback: My first meme: Top 10 fictional Best Friends | Baker's Daughter Blog

  13. David – ain’t that the truth? That we so often give to others what we would most like to receive ourselves? I know exactly how you feel about the Jeeves function, and am delighted to call you friend if you fulfill it even in part.

    Bluestocking – yay! I will look out for that. I still can’t get comments on your site, but I do watch out for what you write.

    Danielle – I so agree – if it’s going to be freezing cold and snowy, it might as well really snow and give us all a day off! Perhaps we should just introduce Emma to Miss Marple – what a novel that would be! And I loved Paddington, too. There was always something so utterly appealing about his little furry face.

    Anonymous – what a lovely comment, thank you! If you’d care to leave a link I’d be delighted to visit when your list is up. And I’ve also found reading other’s responses to the meme a great way to add to the tbr pile… as if it needed additions… 🙂

    Ben – oh now you mention Nick Carraway, I wish I’d thought of him! Don’t we all need a loyal admirer, a talented scribe, a witness who reveals our private and undisplayed value. That’s a great thought. And I wouldn’t mind being friends with Stephen Fry, either.

    Eva – help yourself! We should have a virtual tea party with the most popular ones. And I do hope you enjoy Paretski if you read her. I always really liked her style.

    Iliana – yay! Great! I’ll look out for that.

    Baker’s daughter – just about anything with Paddington in it becomes adorable I find. 🙂 And I loved your list – I’ll leave a proper comment later on.

    Claire – ooh, I’d forgotten Psmith, whose exploits I enjoyed a lot when I was a teenager. It’s not surprising Wodehouse is such a popular author when you think of his characters. And poor Elinor – wouldn’t she just have expanded in the collective love of the blogworld?

    Jodie – exactly, for Anne Eliot. I did think of Jane Bennett, but decided against her as her delightfully positive attitude would show me up. 🙂 Poor Emma, and characters of her ilk. Reading is a sort of act of befriending, I like to think.

  14. Arti – I will come and visit to see that list. How very intriguing to think of JA with a postmodern spin! I adored Lost In Austen, which I watched this year, and would willingly watch more remakes like that!

    Stefanie – I would hug him and squeeze him, and call him George, as my son is fond of saying. Actually, it would be hard to STOP hugging Paddington, he is so cute. 🙂

    Rebecca – it’s a good meme for finding new books to read, I’ve found, even if it isn’t aimed in that direction! Lovable characters are such a draw in a novel.

    Em – the other half was on Marguerite Duras. I loved them both, and love them still, despite the years of study and the blood, sweat, tears, etc. La Chatte is okay, but my favourites are Cheri, Le Pur et l’impur, Le ble en herbe, Mes Apprentissages and her short stories. She was wonderful to write about.

    Lilian – lol! I’ll bet he does. I am firmly of the belief that the animals play when the humans are sleeping.

    Becca – oh I love that variation. My list would have to include Julian from the Famous Five and the Vicomte de Valmont from Liaisons Dangereuses. That is so very tempting to do one day (in the not too distant future).

    Mary – how lovely of you! Litlove is definitely my best self, and so fictional in a small way, and definitely up for virtual friendship. 🙂

  15. …to continue (Paddington must be around here somewhere hitting the “publish” button on me). And, yes, Fanny Radlett. You know, maybe I could’ve liked Emma Bovary if she’d had a friend like you.

  16. Great list! I’d love to hang out with many of those people, especially the Austen characters and Lily Briscoe. I’d kind of like to have a good gossip session with Lily about those Ramsays. V.I. Warshawski would be great as well, just as long as we remain safe and sound 🙂

  17. Pingback: The 10 Strangest Characters You’ll Ever Meet In A Bar « Read Heavily

  18. Does it count if you change the meme? I went with 10 fictional characters I read this year thatI’d buy a beer. Of course, that tuned into the 10 strangest characters you’ll ever meet in a bar. Thanks for sharing and helping me kill an afternoon!

  19. Pingback: Fictional Best Friends | So Many Books

  20. Pingback: Some literary best friends of mine… « The Art of Reading

  21. Emily – aww you say such nice things. I do hope you can hang out with me and Paddington and Fanny Radlett. I predict much crying with laughter.

    Dorothy – lol! Yes, we would have to steer V. I. away from the trouble spots of the world. And exactly, Lily would give us the perspective on Mrs Ramsay that we’ve all been waiting for.

    Sean – it most certainly counts! I love the idea and delighted you could join in.

    Shelley – ah, but doesn’t that just make us wonder what our friends really see in us? 😉

  22. Sounds like you are surrounding yourself with some wonderful friends. I had to smile at the Paddington Bear comment. I loved him so much I decorated my son’s nursery with Paddington Bear things. Hope the cold snap has vanished and that you are having better weather now.

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