Monday, 3 October 2011

GUEST POST: Books that broke my heart by Non Pratt

I am tremendously excited to announce that Non Pratt, commissioning editor at Catnip Publishing and all-round booky person, is going to make you all cry. 

This is a fab and wonderful guest post and has put a few books on my to-read list. Be prepared to get misty-eyed and a bit snotty...  

Characters that broke my heart

Books are worlds in which you get to live out everything in such intensity that when Bad Stuff happens, it slays you. Here’s a list of characters that have either done unspeakably evil things or unspeakably brave things or just something quiet and noble that gets me right here *points right inside her soul*.

     1. Davy Prentiss

Well this is irritating. I can’t tell you anything about this character whatsoever in case you haven’t read Patrick Ness’s stunning Chaos Walking trilogy. If you have, then I will simply refer to a chapter heading in which this name appears. You’ll know which one, I’m sure. If you haven’t, buy the books and read them and then you will know that Davy Prentiss is the most perfect characterisation in literature. I’m not even exaggerating. 

2. Jennie

Paul Gallico’s eponymous Jennie is a cat; a silver tabby who is fickle and calculating, clever and warm and ever-so-slightly possessive of Peter, the boy who is transformed into a cat at the start of the book. She is the embodiment of every cat I’ve ever met it’s entirely understandable why Peter loves her in a loyal Sam Gamgee kind of a way. And of course, she’s a cat. She belongs to no one, not even cat-Peter, and just as she starts to realise that maybe she wants that life, the cosy contented life of a someone finally ready to commit, it’s no longer there for the taking. ARGH, the agony of lost opportunity!

(She would totally be played by the cat in the Whiskers advert in the film of her life.)

3. Donald Zinkoff

Loser by Jerry Spinelli is a delightful read centred on the aforementioned Donald Zinkoff. Donald Zinkoff is an innocent and you, the reader, are always on the outside, always feeling tinge of sadness that he can’t possibly continue to exist like this... can he? This had me grinning, crying and laughing and snivelling all at the same time. Messy.

4. Piccadilly

My first fictional love... was a mouse. Piccadilly is one of the Deptford Mice, a Robin Jarvis creation and I reckon his finest. He’s a bit of a w@nker is Piccadilly, a bit cocky, and bit defensively self-reliant, which opens him up nicely to vulnerability (because we all know that arrogant streetwise mice are just fronting to hide their soft and squishy side, right?). It’s not just his hot/cold flirtation with the annoying Audrey that gets me all worried for his well-being, it’s also this strange friendship he appears to have struck up with a rat... Unfortunately for Piccadilly, he is at the mercy of Jarvis, a writer who shows zero remorse at DESTROYING ALL HOPE for a happy ending.

5. Severus Snape

Ah, Snape, I spent six books being a bit bored by your Potter-bashing and then with the seventh you pull off my favourite ever tear-inducing plotline with aplomb. Nuff said.

6. Bigwig

Big wig is the definition of nobility. He’s got attitude, he’s got muscle. I reckon he’s got a decent amount of brain too, but he’s got honour and loyalty and he’s got the guts to die for it, if he has to. And I think if you lived in Watership Down, you’d want him watching your cottontail.

7. Duck

There’s an amazing picture book called Duck Death and the Tulip. I’m thinking the title gives it away somewhat. I’ve read it few times, each time thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll be all right this time, I’m ready for this, no tears here, no siree,’ and then I cry. Big fat misery tears. I can’t help it. Duck is such a lovely character and yet you know she’s been created for one reason and one reason alone... and you’re not going to like that reason.  

8.  Lee Scoresby and Hester

I was going to just list Hester, Lee’s daemon, but of course, one wouldn’t exist without the other. Let’s be frank here: I thought Lee was OK, pretty cool, pretty laconic, pretty good company for Lyra and Iorek. Until his Bad Stuff happens, which elevates him from being a perfectly likeable character to being my second favourite*. Because sometimes it’s those things that kill you, that make you stronger – at least in literature. 

* FYI, my favourite is Will. I heart him. Thankfully he doesn’t take that heart and snap it in two. He just sort of batters it a bit and returns it bruised.

This is not an exhaustive list – every (good) book I read, I fall in love with someone (judging by this list that character has a 50% chance of being an animal) which definitely increases the likelihood of heartbreak. And I’m always looking for recommendations...

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