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Guest Post: Difficult Heroines by Molly O’Keefe


If we had thumbs,  we would be snapping

 

This guest piece comes to you from author Molly O’Keefe whose books Can’t Buy Me Love (reviewed here) and Can’t Hurry Love are out in stores now.  Robin and I really love O’Keefe’s writing. It’s smart, sexy, and thoughtful.

I love the show Girls on HBO. Are you watching this? I’ll spare you the recap, you can read about it here.  But the reason I love this show is the very same reason it’s getting criticised. Every character on the show is selfish in turns. Petty and  self-absorbed  as only twenty-something girls can be. They are in a word, difficult.  Which isn’t to say they’re unlikeable. To me, anyway. They’re real, and they’re human and they’re fascinating.  But the creator, Lena Dunham took a huge risk creating these characters and trying to find an audience for them.

I was reading Anna Cowan’s great piece  about difficult heroines and reader thresholds – and it made me think about difficult heroines and writer thresholds.

The largest criticisms I’ve gotten on my recent releases are that the heroines and some of the other characters are unlikeable. It’s not surprising criticism, I took a chance and I knew not everyone would get Tara Jean or Victoria.  Which is weird, because I’m trying to make a living as a writer, why would I alienate some readers?

I honestly don’t have an answer to that, so I asked some writers who have written some difficult heroines to see why they did it.

“Difficult heroines bring a lot of conflict to a romance, which is always a good thing,” said Cecilia Grant author of  A Gentleman Undone (reviewed here). “They tend to make the hero-heroine power dynamic more interesting. And for readers who like to sort of vicariously experience the romance, I think a sharp-edged heroine makes just as good a “placeholder” as the softer-edged kind. Better, even, because she carries with her the idea that someone might see all your worst qualities – pettiness, coldness, poor decision-making – and fall in love with you despite or even because of those things.”

For Stephanie Doyle author of the Rita Nominated book The Doctor’s Deadly Affair, it’s much more simple. “ Difficult women are way more fun than easy ones, “ she says.  “I know this because I am in fact a difficult woman and I’m a lot of fun. But seriously – I think my characters are a reflection of the people I want to know. The difficult people are just more interesting”

Sarah Mayberry,  author of Her Best Worst Mistake (reviewed here) comes at it a different way. “Romance is full of difficult heroes,” she says. “It’s all about equality between the sexes when I write! If I would portray certain behavior or ideas in a man, I figure I should be able to portray them in a woman. The challenge, as always, is giving readers the information they need to understand what’s behind the character’s difficult-ness. If that’s even a word.”

The complicated nature of creating these difficult heroines is not lost on any of the writers I talked to. Caitlin Crews author of the Replacement Wife understands the inherent challenge.  “The fact is, not everyone is going to like your heroine no matter what you do.  But I think readers want to know a heroine’s motivation, and if you give it to them, they’ll follow her to a lot of dark places.”

All of the authors have tried to balance the “likeabilty scales” as Crews called them. According to Ruthie Knox, author of About Last Night (reviewed here); “I think there’s a difference between asking readers to sympathize with a character and asking them to like her. It’s difficult to like a heroine who hates herself. I can sympathize with her plight, but I want her to show some get-up-and-go, you know?”

Grant agrees.  “As a reader, I have a huge tolerance for unlikeability as long as the character gives me a few things with which to sympathize: a difficult backstory, a humiliating experience, an aspiration or interest that I can relate to.”

This, of course, doesn’t work for every reader and as writers who try to push the envelope in terms of the kind of heroine to be found in romance novels, there is a risk that the heroines and ultimately the books won’t find an audience.

“Real people – which is what I hope my characters resemble,” says Doyle, “are going to meet people who like them and don’t. And it’s the same way with readers.”

I can attest that it is both that simple, and a million times more complicated.  Part of my choice is wanting to grind as much emotion out of a character arc as I can, and that requires some serious highs and lows.  Redemption and forgiveness stories are powerful,  but someone has to do something bad to make them believable.

But largely, and I think most of the authors who take chances on setting, or conflict, or plot – the appeal is the challenge. The challenge of trying something new, of changing some minds, of breaking the molds.  It’s not easy, and it doesn’t work for every reader, or writer…but it’s fun.

 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

37 Comments

  1. Dabney
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:22:17

    For me, it matters more that a lead character is someone whose outcome I’m invested in. I don’t have to like a heroine, but I do need to care whether or not she finds love, happiness, hot sex, or whatever it is she’s journeying towards.

    I read a lot of historicals and, for much of my early reading history, most of the heroines I encountered were nice. Often, for me, that meant dull. Interesting usually trumps sweet. And, as Ms. Doyle points out, many readers see themselves in real, challenging women. A perfect heroine tends to squash my connection to her story.

    Great post! Thanks!

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  2. library addict
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:33:00

    One’s reader’s unlikable or difficult heroine is another reader’s favorite.

    For me it comes down to motivation and character development. I don’t necessarily have to like the heroine to like her story. I just want the heroine (and the hero) to be three-dimensional. And I would much rather read a book with what many would consider a difficult heroine than one who is too saintly or a martyr.

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  3. Isabel C.
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:49:51

    What Library Addict said.

    There are difficulties I won’t put up with in a protagonist, and being unable or unwilling to take care of yourself is one: I couldn’t stand the main characters of either Girls or Sex and the City because they’re respectively spoiled and neurotic. Yes, they’re realistic, but reality contains many people with whom I don’t want to spend five minutes, let alone care about for the duration of a series.

    On the other hand, a lot of other “unlikeable” qualities make me happy. I love a certain amount of ruthlessness–Roslin in the airlockier phase of Battlestar Galactica, for example–coldness, and willingness to go outside the rules. I’m a fan of hedonism and a certain amount of shallowness.

    The problem with redemption arcs, for me, is that there isn’t a lot of gray area between a character who’s done something that doesn’t really need redeeming and one who’s redemption I don’t care about: both Carrie and Hannah could grow as people, or they could get eaten by a bear in Episode 5, and at the end of Episode 1, I’m kind of rooting for bear-devouring, so I don’t watch the shows. (See also half the fantasy heroes out there these days, BTW. )

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  4. Alvaro
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:50:53

    That show is being criticized for being extremely problematic in its treatment of race, class, and gender, not because the heroines are unlikable. The nepotistic casting seems to have infected the writing.

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  5. Ren
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 09:19:54

    When other people say “likeable,” I hear “Mary Sue”–strip out any qualities anyone might find offensive, add a little victimization to engender instasympathy, make her too humble to realize she’s “perfect,” and voila! Isn’t she a darling?

    About as interesting as watching paint dry, but hey, priorities. “Boring” sounds less damning in a review than “I hate the heroine.”

    I always appreciate when a writer steps out of the safe zone. Not that such stories always work for me–a lot can go wrong on the page despite the one thing I might love–but it takes a certain amount of courage and commitment to craft to know in advance The Establishment is going to be reluctant to touch a story and to write it anyway.

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  6. Isobel Carr
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 09:23:54

    ***I couldn’t stand the main characters of either Girls or Sex and the City because they’re respectively spoiled and neurotic.***

    OMG THIS! And boring as all hell to boot. I love a difficult heroine (Starbuck on BSG, anyone?), but I have to be INTERESTED in her and want her to triumph.

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  7. Liz Talley
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 09:38:28

    Very interesting topic and one that has been on my mind recently ever since I started a Rita-nominated book that is extremely well-written, the hero seems dashing, sexy and swoon-worthy, but the heroine is silly. The entire time I’m reading, I’m thinking, “I don’t like this chick.” Still, I read on.

    As a writer I want to create fascinating, real characters who do and say fascinating, real things, but there is a fine balance I have to walk if I’m actually considering my readers. Because I’m writing for a specific line, I try and remember I do have a certain target audience which binds me and sometimes forces me to put my heroine on a leash. And I suspect that many writers both resent and find comfort in this. There have been a few times I’ve pushed the envelope and wrote a heroine that wasn’t always giving, sweet and rational. I found that readers never liked those books as much as I did. My own mother even used the phrase “well, it’s different” which is aka for “I don’t like it.” And I suspect she didn’t like it as much because my heroine was selfish, dramatic and sometimes irresponsible. And Scarlet was. Because that was her character…much as her namesake the classically flawed Scarlett O’ Hara.

    Nice post that gives me much to think about….

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  8. Stephanie Doyle
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 10:35:25

    Liz – so right about Scarlett. I remember arguing about her with my English teacher. He said she was awful and much preferred Melanie. Because she was nice and sweet and a good wife.

    And I thought yeah… but she’d be dead without Scarlett!

    For me Scarlett is the heroine I want to read about. She’s not always nice, and she doesn’t always do the right thing, but she’s never purposeless. Well maybe in the beginning… but in the end she’s the person that everyone turns to.

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  9. P. Kirby
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 11:02:44

    Since my favorite characters are anti-heroes (heroines), I can hardly claim a fondness for nice, well-behaved characters. OTOH, I detest characters who take themselves or others too seriously. So “likable,” by my definition, requires a sense of humor. I especially like obnoxious characters who say all the awful things the rest of us are thinking but are too polite to speak.

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  10. Lada
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 11:19:07

    Great post…very thoughtful and thought-provoking!

    @library addict: I agree with Library Addict and know it must be tremendously difficult for authors to write with an audience in mind because what we like is very subjective. I can love a very flawed character as long as I understand the motivation behind their behavior but if I feel like the flaw (and even the motive) is pasted on just to push boundaries or create pseudo-conflict, I probably won’t warm up to the characters or story.

    I’m not a fan of the “placeholder heroine” theory. I don’t want to be her or even like her, I just want to read a good story. No matter the genre, all I want is an author to write a story I can get lost in and be entertained by for a few glorious hours. I appreciate that some authors are willing to explore new ideas and boundaries, even at the risk of alienating readers.

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  11. Isabel C.
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 11:39:45

    @Liz and Stephanie: Yes! Scarlett was one of my first real heroines, and I still love her, although the romance thing makes me want to smack her a little.* But where everything else ever is concerned, she’s so damn good about getting things done, surviving, and keeping the people she cares about safe.

    The girl gets things done. That’s what I need in a heroine.

    @Isobel Carr: Ooh, Starbuck. I loved her so much for the first season or so, but then the Obligatory Angsty Backstory started coming out (I suspect because Moore et al thought that a woman couldn’t be a hotshot fighter chick without also being broken in some way, but I am cynical, especially about things that look like the Red Sonja Problem) and they lost me. But the show in general did about then, anyhow, so.

    *Although it goes down easier these days, when I can look back and go “…yep, seventeen.” When I was seventeen, I was convinced that I would be totally smarter than that; I wasn’t.

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  12. Arethusa
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 11:47:16

    This! It is why Lisa Kleypas’ “Secrets of a Summer Night” is still one of my favourite of the Wallflower books. Here is a heroine who actually seems to be of her time: invested in the class systems and the idea of the marriage market. Yet, she was able to eventually shed some of her prejudices and find true love with someone who was not initially “her type”. I remember being so impressed on the first read I went straight to a forum to express and was surprised to find that a lot of other readers didn’t consider her “likeable”.

    I get the impression that romantic heroines fall prey to this trap more than others. This is why Cecilia Grants books were such a lovely revelation for me! Imagine a heroine rather cold and shrewish…usually she would be the villain or at least a second-rate sidekick. Give me more of that kind of books!

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  13. Molly O'Keefe
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 12:32:31

    I love that everyone has a carefully thought out line in sand when it comes to difficult or unlikeable characters. Scarlett was totally a difficult heroine and as my mother was saying this morning – people were probably glad when Rhett walked away.

    I liked Starbuck best in the first season and then at the end when she was killing the cylon every night.

    Girls is a total lightening rod, that’s for sure. And some of the criticism of race class and gender infuriates me because race, class and gender sure as heck doesn’t come up when people talk about Entourage.

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  14. Anne
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 13:07:37

    I can’t say I like the typical pushover heroine, but I’m even more allergic to what is described here. These are the rage already in YA.

    Where are the realistic women? Not the Hollywood tropes, nor the feminist ones and sure as anything also not those with a Nice Girl Syndrome. Just real, interesting, with good and bad sides and some grey in between.

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  15. cleo
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 15:07:15

    Really thought provoking post – and thanks for the link to Anna’s post too.

    Un-likability is so subjective – I’m wondering if any of the authors reading this have been surprised by reader / reviewer reactions, if you wrote a character that you liked and thought your readers would like but um, they didn’t?

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  16. Ridley
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 15:19:56

    @Anne: Feminists aren’t realistic? Whatchu talkin’ ’bout?

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  17. Sinead
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 15:22:11

    I love difficult heroines. Give me a challenging, strong woman before a sweet doormat any day of the week. And all the heroines mentioned here, Scarlett, Starbuck, (I love BSG), Tara Jean, Those are my favourite characters.

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  18. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 15:42:49

    Well, I have one that an editor AND a reader thought was a “bad-tempered bitch.”

    They ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

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  19. Isobel Carr
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 16:03:31

    I’ve only written one heroine who I thought of as soft and easily relatable. She was the least favorite among my readers. So I’m sticking to beyotches, long may they remain popular.

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  20. Stephanie Doyle
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 16:23:13

    It’s interesting – I have a heroine coming out in my next book who did something wrong. Just flat out wrong because she made a stupid decision in a dark moment.

    I TOTALLY forgave her. (In my head anyway.) Whether readers will or not remains to be seen.

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  21. rachel
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 16:24:59

    It bothers me a bit that the word ‘difficult’ is used primarily as a descriptor for heroines while heroes get words like ‘brooding’, ‘tortured’, and ‘alpha’. So many Amazon reviews are full of things like, ‘the heroine was such a bitch or so dumb that I wanted to slap her’ and it always makes me so mad. Like, really you think the threat of physical violence is an appropriate reaction to a heroine having character flaws? I also hate the idea that writers assume the romance reading public won’t buy a book with a flawed or difficult heroine. This reader will! Taking chances is the only way to advance the genre.

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  22. Sirius
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 17:03:54

    @rachel: What a fascinating topic, but your comment specifically made me wonder. Romances wise, I primarily read mm, but while I do not read too much primarily het romances, I certainly read fantasy, urban fantasy where hero and heroine could be involved in romantic storylines. So anyway, I really think that for me whether I like the character, flaws and all, really all depends on case by case basis and on the flaw, and basically on which character is appealing to me. For example, no matter how flawed Kate Daniels is in Ilona Andrews’ series, I love her and forgive her and think that she is awesome as she is, flaws and all. I also love Scarlet (of course) and would not change her for anything.

    But take for example “Song for Arbonne” by Guy Gavriel Kay. I will not go into spoilers, but I hated Urte’s wife, hated her with passion and never ever forgave her for what she did to Urte. And thought that she was not worthy of Urte. By the way I hated Bertran just as much :), but thought that Urte’s wife beared more blame.

    What I am trying to say that I can absolutely be harder on a woman than on a man for the same character flaw, but in the next book I can be harder on a male character for the same situation, really only depends which character appeals to me in particular book, nothing to do with the gender.

    But again, maybe I am the wrong person to ask, as I said pure het romances constitute small part of my reading.

    Oh and in general of course I prefer flawed characters, seriously flawed characters, I think though that there are couple of flaws that I could do without . I think you can do a story of redemption for anybody, OR I do not even think necessarily that character should be redeemed from quite a few flaws, after all human beings are flawed, so as long as person who loves you can tolerate them, why not see them in the book. However, I just do not care for redeemed rapist or serial killer for example, any other flaw – bring it on. Actually, I have read one mm book with redeemed serial killer, but that was a complete exception to the rule for me, so I suppose I can see redeemed serial killer heroine (in theory).

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  23. Maili
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 17:14:33

    @rachel: Quote of the Day.

    I don’t know what ‘difficult’ is. As in being ‘feisty’, ‘stubborn’ or ‘unconventional’? I adore unconventional and/or flawed heroines, but does being unconventional/flawed make them ‘difficult’? How so when no one labels similar-type heroes ‘difficult’?

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  24. Isobel Carr
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 17:32:33

    @Maili: What about “alphahole”? It’s a descriptor that gets put on many an unlikeable hero.

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  25. Liz Mc2
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 17:50:22

    @Isobel Carr: I’m not sure; I think a lot of “alphahole” heroes are beloved by many readers (yes, he has to change and grovel, but his “difficulty” is a familiar and beloved genre trope. Healing or taming him is the nice heroine’s role in life).

    @rachel: Love this comment. Hooray for writers and readers who want fully human female characters. Sure, you can be a real woman without being “difficult” or “unlikeable,” but I wish we didn’t label female characters who depart from the romance norm that way. I think that as you and Maili say, similarly flawed heroes get described in far less pejorative ways.

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  26. Janine
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 20:07:45

    @Molly O’Keefe: I don’t have a line in the sand when it comes to heroines. I’ve loved many a heroine other readers thought were too flawed. I’ve disliked some, too, but I don’t think there’s any pattern to my dislikes. I think it’s more like the people you meet in real life — you hit it off with a lot of them, and then there are the ones that rub you the wrong way.

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  27. Anna Cowan
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 21:52:33

    @Isobel Carr: My husband asked the other night whether I thought I wrote myself into my heroines, and in trying to explain to him the kinds of heroines who appeal to me I realised: I mostly write the woman I would be if I had the guts. I wonder whether this is why the “bitch” is popular? There’s certain behaviour most of us still can’t quite bring ourselves to act out because it’s so ingrained as “unfeminine”. For me, anyway, this is a massive attraction of the unlikeable heroine. I look up to a woman who can speak her mind and do what’s necessary and believe that she has just as much say as the next person.

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  28. Robin/Janet
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 23:12:48

    I have long wondered why the unlikeable/difficult threshold for heroines in Romance is so low, especially when the comparable threshold for heroes is so high. I’ve started to think that the judgments so many of these heroines face come from the ambivalence so many women feel about breaking the “rules” of patriarchy. In other words, rather than celebrating a place where women can step out from behind that line we’re always expected to toe, there’s almost a threat or a sense of not wanting even a fictional woman to be able to do that and STILL end up with everything she wants, because so many women do not feel they can do the same.

    Which is one of the reasons I think it’s so important to keep pushing that envelope in Romance. Because it is a space in which women can contemplate these issues, even if the level of that contemplation is one of sheer enjoyment and entertainment.

    In terms of what makes a heroine appealing to me, I think it all comes down to dimension. Either “niceness” or “difficulty” can be interesting with dimension and boring or unappealing without it. Pushing past “type” and shorthand to the individual layers of character is what engrosses me in a character. Some of my favorite books are those where I don’t even think in terms of liking or disliking the characters, but where I simply cannot leave them before the end of their journey. They are watchable (or readable, more precisely), and I am riveted. Sometimes it’s a matter of sympathy or empathy or relatability or understandability; other times it’s a murky combination of things I can barely discern and distinguish. In fact, it’s often when I cannot fully articulate the nature of my interest that I feel most rewarded as a reader.

    So I guess what it really comes down to for me is that I don’t want more or less of a particular “type” of character, but just more character in genre characters, especially heroines.

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  29. Molly O'Keefe
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 06:30:58

    More character in genre characters will be my new tatoo…

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  30. Julia Broadbooks
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 10:00:50

    @Robin/Janet That’s exactly it! I was struggling to decide what I thought about this and had trouble putting it into words. I’ll have to confess that I don’t love Scarlett. I thinks she’s selfish and kind of horrible. I enjoyed her competence and drive, but I never really connected with her emotionally. But I didn’t like Melanie either. I thought she was a Mary Sue before I even had words for it. The lack of nuance in characters on either end of this likability spectrum leaves me cold.

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  31. Robin/Janet
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 14:02:47

    @Molly O’Keefe: All the character but none of the calories!

    @Julia Broadbooks: Nuance! Yes, that’s the word. Thank you — I was struggling to articulate that point and, as usual, couldn’t hone in on the right word. LOL

    Re GWTW, I do think a character like Scarlett was important as one of the many (because clearly we are still in progress, here) door openers for self-motivated heroines, although let’s face it, a man with her character profile would not have ended up alone at the end of the book! However, I agree with you that the flat female character is annoying, whether intended to be good or evil. I am especially frustrated with eeeeevil female villains who are so often portrayed as sexually voracious or violative. It reinforces the whole ‘good women can’t be sexually open’ crap that permeates representations of women, even in Romance (including, ironically, erotic Romance, IMO).

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  32. Isobel Carr
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 15:48:01

    @Anna Cowan: I write the kind of women I know and love in real life, women who are something like me and my girlfriends. And yeah, most of them have a definite edge to them. I just have no real interest in “nice” women. I like to see the naughty, bad girls get their HEA. Somewhere between Scarlett (who I would like to have run over with a carriage, repeatedly) and Melanie (who needed to grow a spine) is a woman I’d want to know and cheer for, and that’s the kind of heroine I strive to create.

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  33. JMM
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 16:56:51

    What is a “likeable heroine”, anyway? These days, it seems to mean:
    Sweet.
    Gentle.
    Maternal.
    Kind – to the point of being unable to hurt someone’s feelings. Because that’s the WORST THING A WOMAN CAN EVER DO.

    Not to mention, “humble” to the point of being a complete DOORMAT.
    “Sure, he/she stole my life savings, but I’m so unworthy! I shouldn’t have that money! I shall just starve to death to prove what a Good Woman I am!”
    “My daddy stole my college money – he must need it more than I do! I shall remain home and take his beatings to prove my Womanliness!”
    “Ugh. That guy creeps me out. But I can’t hurt his feelings by refusing to go on a date with him! Gee, I wonder why he pulled over into this deserted place with that six-foot hole dug in the ground?”

    Of course, being “likeable”, they are certain to be rescued – giving the message that humble women are rewarded – not likely.

    Personally, I’d rather read about a raging “bitch” than a Good Woman.

    I think that we women are our own worst enemies – we judge other women (and female characters) much harsher than we do the males of either fact or fiction!

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  34. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 18:26:33

    @Molly:
    I second that, but also add “and more characters of color with character.” When I couldn’t find diversity in many of the books by the authors I adored, I got fed up and decided to start writing them myself. I enjoy strong alpha females who snap back when confronted, instead of wilting or blooming into just another Mary Sue. That’s why I create YA paranormal females who are Alphas and pair them with Alpha teen males of different races. Yes, there are quiet, shy, sweet women and young ladies out there, but this trend in writing where there’s a checklist for the heroine, (bites bottom lip, pushes back hair constantly, wonders “what does he see in me?” every other page, can clumsily fall without anyone laughing and pointing, but the alphahole finds all her quirks wonderfully endearing) is a chick with a self esteem issue that I definitely wouldn’t want to hang with.

    Edited to add: Whenever I read a book with the checklist of heroine quirks mentioned above, I want to scream out “Buy some chapstick for your lips, get a tie for your hair, ask yourself what do you see in him instead, and how in the hell are you able to fall without anyone ever laughing?”

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  35. Catherine M
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 21:35:09

    Whenever someone brings up Scarlett being so unlikeable and how they don’t blame Rhett for walking out, I have to bring up the fact that he bullied her, belittled her, cheated on her, and raped her all the while expecting her to read his mind and figure out that he really luvvved her. And then he walked out because she failed his test. Really?

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  36. JMM
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 12:24:10

    What always bugged me was that everyone took money and support from Scarlett – then gossiped about her behind her back. “Oh, she’s so unwomanly and selfish, etc,” while accepting support from her.

    At least Melanie had the good sense to be grateful.

    I loved most of “Secrets of a Summer Night”. Good to see a heroine who actually thought more like a woman of her time would instead of scrubbing the damn floors because her BFF the maid was sick.

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  37. Links, Labels and Limits | Something More
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 18:27:48

    [...] that reinforce traditional assumptions about gender. For instance, author Molly O’Keefe had a couple of posts recently on writing difficult heroines and being tired of “nice.” I [...]

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