Wicked Wednesday – What’s in Your Character’s Purse?

We’ve been talking a lot about our characters lately, and what makes them who they are. Well, what says more than what’s in your purse (or messenger bag, or backpack, or whatever else they carry with them constantly?)

So Wickeds, what’s in your main character’s favorite bag that they absolutely can’t live without?

totebagBarb: When Julia Snowden left Manhattan, she also left behind the laptop bag and crossbody purse that went with her life in venture capital. Since she’s landed back in Maine, she’s carried a canvas Snowden Family Clambake tote. Sometimes it contains clues Julia’s investigating, like a blowup of a photo from her phone, or a copy of an old insurance report. Other times, it’s more mundane stuff, like Snowden Family Clambake brochures or her mom’s mail fetched from the Post Office. The tote bag also holds her nylon wallet, sunblock or chapstick depending on the season, a bundle of covered rubber bands to pull back her hair if she’s on a boat or around food prep, and her smartphone, which works pretty well in Maine, except where it doesn’t.

Liz: Stan Connor is always prepared. It comes from her life in corporate America. These days she’s still a sucker for a high-end bag, but she usually leaves that behind unless she’s going somewhere fancy. When she’s running around town solving murders or collecting organic ingredients for her recipes, she’s usually got a tote bag with her that can easily hold her emergency dog and cat treats, notebooks where she collects ideas for recipes and jots down her on the spot ideas for new flavors and ingredients and random veggies she happens upon at a farmers’ market. Her staples include a makeup bag with her favorite Urban Decay eyeliner and mascara, hair ties, and travel dog water bowls. She also carries emergency information about her pets in her wallet too, with her bank card and license. Her cell phone is usually in her pocket, though, just in case she runs out without her bag in a huge hurry.

Edith: Cam Flaherty carries an Otis-Rein messenger bag with crows stenciled oRose's satcheln it. Inside she has keys, chapstick, a nail file, and farm business cards, plus her smart phone, pens, a comb for her short hair and a slim wallet with necessary cards, license, and money. Robbie
Jordan likes her red Baggallini because of all the pockets – and it has room for a couple of emergency granola bars, too. And while Rose Carroll’s midwifery satchel isn’t exactly a purse, it carries all the supplies she needs for attending births: herbs, her Pinard horn, tape measure, scissors and cord-tying string, a stoppered bottle of carbolic acid, a few other pieces of equipment – plus her knitting and some dried fruit for energy at long labors.

Jessie: Ruby Proulx lives in Old Orchard in 1898 so her satin reticule would not be large enough for today’s needs. When she fled Canada for her aunt Honoria’s hotel in Old Orchard, Maine she had a few dollars, a photograph of her mother and a deck of tarot cards in her small satin reticule. Even after Ruby grows accustumed to her new life she kept using the same small purse or others that are like it. Her aunt has credit at all the local shops and Ruby generally has purchases added to the Hotel Belden’s account so she has little need to carry cash. Since respectable women of the day did not make a habit of wearing makeup, or at least never admitted to doing so, Ruby doesn’t carry any cosmetics either.

Sherry: What a fun question! Sarah loves red purses (she calls them that instead of a pocketbook like most of the residents of Ellington) and it has to be a big one because she has to carry a lot of stuff. She’d never be caught without a big tape measure because who knows when you are going to find that perfect thing at a yard sale that may or may not fit in your house. She probably has a notebook and paper for sketching out room designs. Her phone for keeping notes on. Tissues (she’s allergic to cats), lipstick, and a wallet. On occasion she’s been known to carry a screw driver and hammer around just in case she has to take something apart to fit in her Suburban.

Julie: Chief Jeff Paisley referred to Ruth as a hipster Mary Poppins, because of the bag she carries, and the fact that anything she needs gets pulled out of it. The bag itself is a cross body messenger bag. She’s glad that steampunk is popular, because it has cogs and wheels all over it. Ruth loves her large Moleskin notebooks, which she uses to sketch ideas, and make lists. She’s inherited the notebook habit from her grandfather. In addition to notebooks, she has pencils, erasers, lip gloss, tons of tools to tame her hair, straws, a small toolkit, a magnifying glass, a flashlight. And, of course, her cellphone and a wallet.

Readers, what’s a staple in your bag or favorite carryall?

22 Thoughts

  1. Sadly the one thing I always have to carry are my Epi-pens, other than that my staples are my wallet (Guild of Assassins from Discworld!), my Kindle – oh and my kindle charger!

  2. I’m not sure any of my characters carry a purse at all! I think I might write, now and then, something like “she grabbed her bag and ran out the door.” I assume each of them carries keys, cash and/or credit cards, probably a cell phone, and an ID, but beyond that they don’t think about it. I’m guessing I’m compensating for my always overloaded purse, which usually includes a camera, an umbrella, a folding bag, a notebook, extra sugar, a few band-aids, bookmarks–you get the picture.

    1. Sheila, I am curious if the contents of your purse change depending on which house you are at? Are your needs in Ireland different than those state side? I know when I am at the beach for the summer I want cash and my phone in a little wristlet and nothing more. But back inland I have notebooks, favorite pens, my Hobonichi, lipstick and a battery pack. For me, different places just seem to ask for different gear!

      1. My ignorance is showing: what’s a Hobonichi (and do I need one?) When I travel, mostly I’m terrified of losing (a) my passport and (b) my keys (rental car and wherever I’m staying). If you see me patting my purse at intervals, it’s because I’m making sure everything is still there.

  3. I still carry a book bag! Actually I have two. My favorite is royal blue, and its twin is navy when I need two. My assistance dog Kendall used to carry it for me. Now that he’s gone it’s harder to use both physically and emotionally. I still carry two bottles of water in it, a practice I learned at service dog basic training, and a collapsable bowl. If I don’t get a new assistance dog soon, I may discard all of the equipment it. It’s a constant reminder that makes me very sad. I’m okay, but I thought I would be doing better with this loss. Since I’m not, however, it might be good to at least let go of these reminders however dear.

    1. Reine, this is so touching! I am truly sorry about your ongoing struggle with your loss. I echo Sherry’s sentiment hoping you soon have a new love to help ease the pain of Kendall’s passing.

  4. I don’t have a bag I constantly carry around with me. However, I have a stuffed wallet with cash, credit cards, discount cards, library cards (yes, two, one for city and one for county), etc.

    And I always have a book with me, now more than ever. And sometimes a spare. Can’t be caught without something to read. If I am wearing a backpack, you can bet my book is in it.

    1. I really don’t know how men get away without carrying a purse. I guess you have more pockets. A book and a spare is a good thing!

  5. I always have a book of some sort, either kindle or paper/hard back. My date book and a pen, wallet with driver’s license and medical cards, lip balm, eye drops, sunglasses, tylenol. Depending on the length of trip I may have my meds or my son’s meds.

  6. I can’t go anywhere without lip balm. Horror if my lips are dry.

  7. I carry a small tote bag a friend made for me, with my wallet and checkbook; keys; a book or my Kindle (of course!); a make-up bag with emergency cosmetics, a small manicure kit, a few wetnaps, and a pill container with my medications; my asthma inhaler; pet treats; tissues; a few extra paper napkins (I’m a messy eater); reading glasses; a soft case for my sunglasses; a small notebook; and a few hard candies. My cell phone goes in my pocket . I keep trying to pare it down, but invariably I’ll leave something out then need it as soon as I’m out the door!

  8. I checked on what kind of handbag I’d given my heroine, Lee Barrett, and found that although I’d mentioned the color occasionally, the only time I’ve given her a brand name bag was the Brahmin I let her use in Look Both Ways, (largely because my friend Judy has several of them which I covet.) More often than not she just puts her wallet and cell into the pocket of her favorite NASCAR jacket. My own handbags tend to be small–just big enough for wallet, cell, handkerchief, comb, pen and business cards–usually Brighton. For travel I have a huge, old Etien Aiger number, almost big enough to count as a piece of luggage!

  9. I carry a small red Liz Claiborne pouch most of the time worn crossbody. It has sunglasses, lipstick case with mirror, pen, checks, place for credit card and Drivers License, comb.

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