Still reeling from the surprise of being Freshly Pressed and in honour of Banned Books Week, I put together what I thought would be the perfect family populated with characters from fiction.
Mother: Marjane’s grandmother from Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
There is a beautiful scene early in the graphic novel Persepolis where Grandma Satrapi undresses in front of Marjane, and wondrous-smelling jasmine flowers fall from inside her brassiere…That entire scene just oozes femininity and womanhood. Grandma Satrapi provides Marjane with a sense of identity in her formative years by plying her with stories of her family history. Gentle and firm, she dispenses solid real-world advice to Marjane: “In life, you’ll meet a lot of jerks… Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself.”
Father: Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Because he’s really literature’s best father. He’s raising two kids on his own while trying to protect his children from a horribly pervasive small-town mentality. He speaks to Jem and Scout as adults, but still maintains his wry sense of humour. Atticus Finch is a good man with a fantastic value system, who remains honourable and honest in his profession and dealings with people. He’s gained an insight into the minds of the people around him, a trait that we see Scout developing over the course of the novel. And he’s full of these pithy little statements that are so utterly quotable. “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand”; “Try fighting with your head for a change”; “It’s not okay to hate anybody”.
(He’s also a sharp shooter. Wow. Can you imagine me chilling out with Dad on a Saturday afternoon, shooting beer bottles in our backyard?)
Siblings: Nora & Dora Chance from Wise Children by Angela Carter
This vaudeville pair of fraternal twins from Angela Carter’s kaleidoscopic novel are probably the most colourful female characters I’ve come across in my reading life. Nora and Dora are showbiz girls in every way: catty, wild and loud. They dress abominably – always a hit with me – and have a fantastic sense of humour. Because of their very public status as illegitimate daughters of a successful stage actor, they tend to take a light-handed approach to life. Through their joys and despite their tragedies, the two sisters stick together. What more can you ask for?
Aunt: Polgara from The Belgariad by David Eddings
Can you imagine an immortal sorceress for an aunt? You wouldn’t have to worry about bullies ever. Polgara is rather politically inclined, a trait that is helped by a sharp tongue; she modernized her government, freed her serfs and trained her people in self-sufficiency. Imagine sitting down for a cup of tea and discussing the finer points of Machiavelli with Aunt Polgara.
Neighbour: Sherlock Holmes
I don’t really need to elaborate on the merits of having Sherlock Holmes as your neighbour, do I? Aside from his insomnia, coke habit and numerous other eccentricities, he’s… Sherlock Holmes. Witty, charming and eloquent, he is the benchmark against which all other detectives are measured. Having Sherlock Holmes for a neighbour is a fantastic way to gain a daily education in logic and common sense – qualities the world needs a little more of.