Wicked Wednesday – Strong Fictional Women

Hey Wickeds,  keeping on with our strong women theme this month!

There are so many strong female characters to choose from including Hermione from the Harry Potter novels to Joan from Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. Who is your favorite badass female protagonist? 

Barb: This one is so easy for me–always and forever Jo March. In all the books, Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. First published in 1868, Jo spoke to me, and for me, almost a hundred years later. I still feel her with me today, 153 years on.

Edith/Maddie: I so agree, Barb. Jo has been “my” character since I first read her at age eight or nine. To shake it up, I’ll go with someone contemporary, Clare Fergusson from Julia Spencer-Fleming’s long-running series. Clare is a kickass Episcopal priest, a former military pilot, and someone who cares deeply about justice. I have loved this series since book one.

Julie: This is a tough one! Since I’m listening to one of my favorite series right now, I’ll choose Amelia Peabody. I love the Elizabeth Peters series about an Edwardian Egyptologist and her family. The books are mysteries, but mostly romantic adventures written by someone who was an Egyptologist, so that’s fun as well.

Sherry: I love Lily Wong in the Lily Wong series by Tori Eldridge. Lily is tough physically and mentally, but also vulnerable. Her mother is Chinese and her father Norwegian. Lily’s mother has lots of expectations and Lily lives over her father’s Chinese restaurant so family is an integral part of Tori’s action-packed books.

Liz: These are all great! I’ve been reading Paula Munier’s Mercy and Elvis Mysteries and I LOVE Mercy Carr. She’s a former army MP who retired to Vermont with her deceased fiance’s bomb-sniffing dog Elvis and she’s such a great character. Her family is really interesting as well, especially her veterinarian grandmother. And the books are great!

Readers, what about you? Who’s your favorite fictional strong woman? Tell us in the comments below.

27 Thoughts

  1. I agree with both Clare Fergusson and Lily Wong, as more recent strong fictional women but my personal fave is V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky P.I. She is tough, loyal and never gives up.

  2. Some of my favorites are the brave, independent girls that my timid childhood self loved — Harriet the Spy, Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, Pippi Longstocking, Eloise…

  3. I think the definition of strong fictional woman needs a bit more clarification. I mean, there are those women who are strong because they stand straight and fierce in the face of adversity like those who have already been mentioned here. But then there are those fictional women who are strong that come with a high body count.

    I mean, think about the comic character Red Sonja. After a traumatic event in her childhood, she grew to become this badass warrior woman who swore to bed no man that couldn’t defeat her in combat and then set about pretty much killing anyone who got in her way. And she did it mostly in a chainmail bikini. And before you ask, yes the character was created and written by men in the early going but most of the more recent stories have been written by female writers.

    But if we are talking prose novel characters, I think Carol O’Connell’s Kathy Mallory is a pretty strong and badass woman. But again, there are lots of characters I read that would fit that broad description. Robbie Jordan, V.I. Warshawski, Honor Harrington, Tara Chace, Kinsey Millhone…and the list goes on.

  4. While I wouldn’t classify her as “badass”, I admire Rose Carroll from the Quaker Midwife Mystery series by Edith. She most certainly stands out as standing her ground and fighting for what’s right regardless to personal danger or sacrifice all in a time when it was unheard of a female doing so.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Mine is from a series I’m still reading, Evalle from the Belador series. She has all these issues to deal with, but when it comes down to it, she comes through. I’m like Barb also, I love Jo March. I just reread Little Women for a masterwork class and she is still one of my favorite women.

  6. Definitely Jo March, but reaching back to my adult childhood (I didn’t read the books as a child) I have to say Trixie Belden.

  7. Liz, I agree with you about the Mercy and Elvis Mysteries. Mercy is strong in her broken places and so very generous. And, I love her grandmother! I “met” Paula Munier here at the Wicked blog and have read both of the first two Mercy and Elvis books, so thanks to each of you for inviting her. My childhood favorite fictional female is Meg Murry…what strength and courageous love she showed in A Wrinkle In Time! Plus, Meg wore glasses and I could really identify with her!

  8. Oooh, more books to check out. Although, I have all of the Elizabeth Peters’ Emilia books.
    My favorite kick- ass character? Humm.. that’s a challenge to name just one.
    The first name that came to mind was Jane Eyre. What a survivor! Through all that happens to her, Jane remains Jane, so very true to herself.
    Close runners up are, Sheriff Kateri Kwinault from Christina Dodds Virtue Falls series, a major kick-ass.
    Also “Harry” Crewe from The Blue Sword and Aerin from The Hero and the Crown both by Robin Mckinley.
    I’m sure I will spend all day saying to myself, “But you didn’t include….”

  9. There are so many, but two came to mind first. Dex Patios from the Stumptown graphic novels and the short lived ABC series of the same name. Dex is a military veteran trying to cope with PTSD while also solving crimes and looking out for her younger brother.
    From the historical fiction pages, I have to go with Phryne Fisher. She’s fearless, won’t let the norms of 1920s Australia define her, and can do pretty much anything including fly an airplane.

    1. J.C., I loved the Stumptown comic book series (read it as the single issue series, not the collected editions). I’m a huge fan of Greg Rucka (I mentioned Tara Chace in my initial response from his Queen & Country series). I liked the Stumptown TV show because Cobie Smulders was great in the role. I was bummed when they canceled the show after initially renewing it for a 2nd season. Oh, and I met Greg Rucka back in 2005 at a comic convention, he was pretty cool to talk to.

      1. Same here, Sherry. I was fitted when they announced the decision not to renew.

  10. I’m always intrigued by what counts as a “strong” woman. Character? Physical skills? Mental skills? So many definitions.

    Some of my favorites have already been mentioned. I just finished ABOVE THE BAY OF ANGELS by Rhys Bowen and I’d add her protagonist, Isabella Waverly to the list. A young woman from a good family, forced into service, but determined to carve out her own space and follow her heart, even when it means taking a less-popular path.

  11. I’m going with Mrs. Pollifax. A widow, garden club member, and grandmother, she decides to do something she’s always wanted to do and goes to the CIA to volunteer. And she manages to find her way out of many situations that seem impossible. I really love the character and the series.

  12. Wow! So honored to see mercy car on this list. My favorite female characters are many of the ones mentioned here—Jo March, Clare Fergusson, and I would add Vera Stanhope and Ruth Galloway. And of course all the Wicked heroines!

  13. Wow! So honored to see Mercy Carr on this list. My favorite female characters are many of the ones mentioned here—Jo March, Clare Fergusson, and I would add Vera Stanhope and Ruth Galloway. And of course all the Wicked heroines!

  14. My favorite is Temperance Brennan (character in Kathy Reichs books). Very strong, has a good sense of humor, and survived and some cases wondered if she would make it. Clare out of the Coffeehouse Mysteries is a good strong character.

  15. Olivia Limoges from the Books By The Bay series by Ellery Adams. I guess it helps that she’s around six feet tall, but she never backs down and doesn’t take anything off anybody. I was sad when that series ended. I miss Olivia.

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