Well, I am out of my bad mood of Friday (with no small thanks to you, dear blogging friends, and your lovely comments) and now I’m feeling frivolous. In fact, I can’t quite believe I’m doing this, when I should still be catching up on reviews, but here, to edify all my female blogging friends, and who knows, maybe a few males ones as well, is my list of top ten fictional heartthrobs. It’s all due to Becca suggesting it in the comments to the literary best friends post I wrote a few days back. It struck me then as a fun thing to do, although to be honest it was much harder than coming up with friends. Unsurprisingly, I turn out to have a certain type – intelligent, sensitive, a bit tortured. Scarily enough it’s not at all like the man I married, who is one of life’s cheerful puppy dogs…. clearly I like to separate fantasy from reality!
Julian from the Famous Five by Enid Blyton.
The first literary crush I can remember having, although I was too young to recognize it as such. I just liked the way he always knew what to do in a crisis, and how he led his friends without ever having to bully or blackmail or otherwise manipulate them. The only thing that spoilt it was that he shared his name with my brother, a deeply unromantic coincidence.
Rupert Campbell-Black from Jilly Cooper’s novels.
He’s not really the sort of man that I would choose in my older, wiser years, but as a teenager I was wowed by his glamour and his arrogance, not to mention his blond good looks. Jilly Cooper was always my favourite trashy read because she managed to create characters who were deeply flawed but somehow extremely sympathetic. You couldn’t help but be drawn into her world. Because she was in love with her hero, it was very easy for the reader to be as well.
Sir Lancelot from the legends of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.
Because isn’t this what lies at the basis of any sort of romantic attachment? The longing for an absolute, impeccable, immortal love, and a man who’s hardly ever home. Really, Sir Lancelot is a bit of a scoundrel, breaking up King Arthur’s marriage like that, but the thought of being chosen and taken, despite insurmountable odds, is a regressive but powerful fantasy. Here’s a rather nice photo of Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Lancelot, or at least, I think he’s playing Sir Lancelot. The site wasn’t altogether clear, but if I’ve made a mistake I’d rather not know about it. He’ll do.
Henry Tilney from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.
Yes, I know, Mr. Darcy is the name you’d expect to see, and believe you me, Colin Firth as Mr Darcy is pretty high on my list of all time great eye candy. But I know I could never last five minutes with a sulky chops. Henry Tilney, by contrast, I adore; he is such a gentleman, so charming and funny and kind. And he accepts Catherine and all her quirks and foibles, nudging her back on course, never letting her wallow in humiliation. Yes, a 24-carat gold sweetiepie.
Father Ralph de Bricassart from The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.
I’ve written about The Thorn Birds many times on this site, and I won’t go over it all again. But undoubtedly Richard Chamberlain played an influential role in my romantic imagination; not that I’ve ever felt the urge to date a man of the cloth, I hasten to add. No, just stick a blonde wig on him and he is surprisingly like Mister Litlove in physical appearance. I wish I could say it was more profound than that.
Vicomte de Valmont from Les Liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos.
Valmont is one of the great seducers and manipulators of literary history, but what I like him for is his downfall. He falls in love with the woman he really is not supposed to, a good, virtuous woman, a woman he is supposed to be tricking for his own egotistical ends. Despite the fact she is everything he is not supposed to want, he loves her, will not deny her and fights to the death for her. Now that’s romantic.
Lord Peter Wimsey from the novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.
Intelligence is one of the great features of attraction for me, and Lord Peter not only has it, he is funny and laid-back and charming about having it. I confess that I am a fan of the BBC radio adaptations of these novels and Ian Carmichael, who plays Wimsey in the series, has an absolutely beautiful voice. That’s not a negligible factor.
Harry Haller from Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse.
My most eccentric choice, undeniably, but I admit I have a certain weakness for men in crisis. Haller is an outsider, a man stuck in inner conflict, trying to break out of a repressive sense of self and to access his more authentic emotions as well as his playfulness and sensuality. I do find myself attracted to people who want to get deeper into life, and who seek genuine self-awareness. That sort of journey fascinates me.
Adam Dalgleish from the novels by P. D. James.
Why are detectives so insidiously attractive? It may have something to do with the fact that they are master readers, piecing together a complicated past from a motley array of traces and clues. For that they need emotional insight, perspicacity, lateral thinking skills, sensitivity, sheer brain power. And I appreciate all of those qualities, and particularly when wrapped up in the figure of a gentleman poet. That Dalgleish turns the melancholy of his type into a creative endeavour is rather endearing.
Abelard from the old story of Abelard and Heloise.
Peter Abelard was a French philosopher in the twelfth century, and Heloise an educated young woman. Abelard became her teacher, moved into the house she shared with her possessive uncle, and began a love affair with her that ended in an illegitimate child. Abelard wanted to marry Heloise but her uncle, in his vengeful rage, had her sent to a nunnery, whilst he saw to it that Abelard was set upon and castrated. After that the two spent their life separated, but conducting their love affair through letters. I am a sucker for a well written letter. Affairs of the mind seem almost more enticing to me than physical ones, and the thought of receiving beautiful, intelligent, romantic letters sends a little shiver down my spine.
So those are my ten top men. Who would you choose?