Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TTT: Character Driven Novels

This week's TTT topic: Books for Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

 I love all the characters in the Queen's Thief but the titular character of The Queen of Attolia is my favorite character of all time. And even though all these books have quite a lot of action, it is the characters that drive the story.

Briony is one of the most complex and fascinating characters to read about. Being inside her head while reading Chime is like wandering through a maze blindfolded, but man is every wall you smack into worth it.

Fire and Hemlock is probably the novel Diana Wynne Jones wrote that is the most difficult to recommend. It has to go to the right sort of reader, and a reader who loves character is certainly the right sort. 

I love all of Melina Marchetta's contemporaries, but Saving Francesca is my favorite. This book is wholly driven by Francesca's character arc and her relationships with the people around her and I adore all of it. 

Seraphina is an epic fantasy about dragons and music and tricky politics. Books like this are usually all about the plot or the world building. Those things are certainly mighty important, but it is Seraphina herself who is the most pivotal part of this story. Her thoughts, her emotions, her music, her loyalties, her brokeness, and her embracing who she is are what made me love this book.

Till We Have Faces is one of C.S. Lewis's lesser read books. This is a shame because it is my favorite. It is a retelling of the myth of Eros and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche's sister. It is a beautiful and haunting story about the relationship between the human and the divine.

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my earliest reads (in an abridged version) and therefore one of my most reread favorites. Looking back, I can see how it formed my love for the character driven narrative. The reason all the movie adaptations of this are so awful is because it is impossible to convey the complexity of Edmond's journey and the impact he has and others have on him in so short a period. Therefore his arc gets butchered and the story loses its power. Read the book. 

Dorothy Sayers writes character driven mysteries. The mystery plotting in them is excellent, but when it comes down to it her books are all about the character's journeys, most especially Lord Peter's journey. But Gaudy Night is all about Harriet Vane. She is coming to terms with her past, what she wants for her future, and how she is going to manage use her present circumstances to make it happen. The mystery in this novel takes a back seat to her thoughts on life, her own and the lives of those around her, and figuring out a woman can possibly have both passion for lover and passion for work. 

What are some of your favorite character driven stories?


  1. Ooh, Fire and Hemlock. Yes. Also, I want to re-read all the Tam Lin retellings SO MUCH right now.

    We have several books in common, which isn't surprising.

    1. I always want to reread The Perilous Gard and Fire and Hemlock during October, but the Cybils makes that hard.

  2. Gaudy Night is a very good choice. I love the change in focus to Harriet's POV and her needs and so on. It's such a great book.

    My TTT.

    1. I love that it switched to her too. And feel it does such a great job of showing her struggle.