Books Featuring Writers to Inspire You
Little Women- Louisa May Alcott
Character:- Josephine March (Jo)
Strong and vivacious, Jo March is the figurehead of her family in the absence of her father who is serving in the military for his country. The book is set during the Civil War. The March family are a group of sisters whom are closer than close, all apart from the youngest and eldest are on the cusp of womanhood. The stresses and poverty experienced during the war means that they revert back to childhood games, such as reenacting plays with all the dress. The main influence is Jo here. Throughout the book she is frequently reading and writing; most notably a play.
The novel moves on and the girls fully become women, they fall in love and make their way in the world. Society in the 19th century when this novel is set has expectations for women to be homemakers and not career women. Jo's character growing up is very much that of a tomboy, she protects her sisters fiercely and does not want to get tied to a man. Jo eventually progresses to pursue her writing, this was very brave and impressive considering the period she lived. It is said that the author, Louisa May Alcott wrote Jo as the person she wished that she could have been. Interestingly, she grew up in a house full of sisters.
I Capture The Castle- Dodie Smith
Character(s):- Cassandra Mortmaine and her Father
I Capture The Castle is a beautifully written novel about coming of age, living in poverty and discovering love for the first time. It has an idyllic though impoverished setting, rich characters and the use of language transports one to an altogether different place and time.
A published author, Cassandra’s father goes deranged when his creativity dries up and he drags his family into poverty. Cassandra is the voice of the book and the novel itself is actually in the form of her diary. Took from this the obsessional quality of her father and his seeking perfection, you may only ever have one really great idea that succeeds as a novel. The pressue he puts himself under made him crack and it did not just affect him either. In this case it was a lesson in what not to do. Another lesson from this book is that you shouldn’t let anyone belittle your ambitions, as Cassandra’s father did to hers. Do what you love. Write and enjoy it. Cassandra is certainly an inspiring character due to her will to follow her passion (and her heart), despite others criticisms, societal expectations of women and a distinct lack of support.
The Diary of Anne Frank- Anne Frank
Individual:- Anne Frank
A work of nonfiction and certainly class this as a must read. It is the book that had the biggest impact upon me as a teenager. It still remains with me to this day. A passion for history most especially The World Wars ensured a vested interest as did the commonality in her keeping a diary.
Though harrowing and sad the the book was essentially the voice of a teenage girl. She remains so amazingly upbeat. It was also interesting to glean an eyewitness account. No amount of factual reading can make you compute the devastating and shocking statistics. A personal account such as Anne’s serves to humanise the dark coldness of war.
I put this here as Anne was a character in personality. She was a person that truly existed and one whom lived during one of the very darkest periods of the 20th century. She serves as an inspiration to appreciate what we have and lessons can be taken from her bravery and spirit. Anne Frank is an inspiration in herself, her love of books and that for writing you could expect that had she survived that she could very well have had success as a writer. Her story is a good reminder regarding how very fortunate we are and the solace one can take in writing. She kept on at it despite the misery and torment of her situation. Remember her when you have those days that you simply cannot be bothered to write, you are short of motivation or inspiration. At this very moment, the world is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis and the biggest migration of people since WWII. Take stock, be thankful and above all do what you enjoy, live life to the fullest.
One Day- David Nicholls
Character:- Emma Morley
So, the struggling writer. Pretty sure that all in sundry have been there- the published, professional, academic, freelance and those whom use writing as a hobby/outlet. One Day is essentially a love story. The novel demonstrates well, just how difficult life can be and how difficult it is to get on in the world. That you need to get to a happy place to actually be able to write. Relevant too is a need to have life experience.
The book opens just after Emma and Dexter graduate on St Swithin’s Day, the 15th of July. Over a period of twenty years, the novel returns to their lives on that exact date. Emma moves to London after her studies, full of ambition and chasing her dream job in writing. After much effort, city life drags her down, she has to earn to live and ends up stuck in a dead end job.
If you do indeed read and/or watch the wonderful film adaptation, fair warning it is a weepy one.
Happily Ever After- Harriet Evans, a love story. The central character Eleanor Bea works as an editor for a publishing company. Avid readers will certainly be able to relate to her love for books. Interesting to gain perspective on what working as an editor involves.
Regeneration- Pat Barker, this novel is about a psychiatrist whom is treating men for shell shock after WW1. One of the men he is treating, Sigfried Sassoon a highly decorated officer is also a poet. This is a great read and allows you to appreciate the importance of a creative outlet after seeing and suffering the great atrocities that warfare entails.
Hungry, The Stars and Everything- Emma Jane Unsworth, a book about life ultimately. The protagonist is on the brink of her thirties, she goes on a bit of a journey of self discovery- looking at her past, her future and how the latter will and does affect the former. Helen Burns this main character happens to be a food critic.