I’ve got a crush on you – literary crushes

You can rely on The Guardian’s fab books section to come up with some entertaining mind teasers. This one is fun Who is your literary crush?  (my favourite answer comes from filleperdu “I wouldn’t mind trying to make Morse happy”).

Rebecca and Rowena
Rebecca and Rowena

Alas I discovered it too late to add my pick. I hate to be a cliche and pick a bad boy but … my once and future lit lover is Brian de Bois-Guilbert from Ivanhoe.

  1. He is Norman (French = saucy).
  2. He is a Templar Knight.
  3. Can’t resist a chap in armour.
  4. He’s a lover and a fighter.
  5. Tormented, conflicted, suffering.
  6. He is madly in love with Rebecca and this drives him to all sorts of acts of passionate endeavour, especially the scene in which she threatens to jump from the ramparts rather than give in to his desire. Mills and Boon would kill for such romance.
  7. He has been played by hot actors Sam Neill and Ciaran Hinds (Ralph Fiennes needs to be cast next!).
  8. Yes Ivanhoe and Rowena are the heroes, but de Bois-Guilbert and Rebecca are far more alluring. And very very sexy.

What literary character do you swoon for?

American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

I have nearly finished American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.  I was drawn to this book by a raft of reviews from appalled American readers. The reason for their horror was that this book is loosely based on the life of First Lady Laura Bush.  As one comment on a blog said: ‘I just have a problem with imagining Dubya having sex. I need a shower now. I feel soiled’.

I coped with the sex (and there’s a bit of it), enjoyed the fact that Alice (aka Laura) had a love of books and was a great librarian, and have generally been taken along by a good rollicking story of a marriage.  Alice Blackwell is a really interesting character.  She is described by Sittenfeld as a Democrat, pro-abortion, contentedly unmarried at 31, and harbourer of many liberal opinions.  By falling in love with Charlie Blackwell, (aka George Dubya Bush) she consciously decides that she can live with herself if she puts aside some of her beliefs, and marry a man and who is an uninhibited good guy, someone who loves her to bits, is the life and soul of the party (and heavy drinker) and whom she suspects may not be a lover of great literature, but has a kind heart.

Sittenfeld has been accused by Republicans for using publicity around Laura Bush as a way of garnering interest in her book, and by the Democrats for making excuses for Laura Bush’s perceived passivity. Surprisingly, Laura Bush proves to be an excellent model for what turns out to be a gripping story, and Sittenfeld has stated publically, that although she loathes George Bush, she admires his wife:

Laura Bush is a true role model. She’s smart and curious about the world. She’s sincere and down-to-earth and compassionate. She’s both confident and modest, she knows who she is, and she doesn’t try to prove anything. I suspect the reason so many people I know believe her to be fake is that she doesn’t aggressively demonstrate her authenticity.

Thankfully we are spared political rhetoric as the book concentrates mainly on Aice’s early life, including her responsbility for a fatal car crash that left a school friend dead.  Laura Bush understandably refuses to comment about the accident, but Sittenfeld is able to summise on what must have been a devastating experience.  She also has a lot of fun imagining the extended Blackwell family clan, inherited wealth, Republicanism, and life on the other side of the tracks.