Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Ten Characters I'd Want as Family Members

This week's meme over at The Broke and the Bookish concerns families in literature. At first I thought about picking the individual characters I'd want, but that didn't feel right. Which March sister would I select? The reason why so many people love Little Women is because it's the family unit that works. You can't separate Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. They belong together. Better by far to simply insert yourself into their happy mix. So that's what I've done.

1. The March Family (Louisa May Alcott). This choice is especially appropriate for me because I am one of four sisters. Since childhood my sisters and I have compared ourselves to the March girls in Little Women. Since I'm the eldest I get to be Meg. I don't think I'm particularly like her, but there you go. That's part of being in a family.  You have to compromise, And at least I'm not the one who dies.

2. The Melendy Family (Elizabeth Enright). Another family much beloved by my sisters and me. The premise of their first book, The Saturdays, is that the four Melendy offspring--Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver--form the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club. Each week they pool their allowance money into one pile and one of the siblings uses it to have an adventure on his or her own. Great fun.

3. The Moffat Family (Eleanor Estes). It's been many years since I last read The Moffats and its subsequent spinoffs, but I remember loving the working-class family of Slyvie, Joey, Janie, and of course Rufus. Time to reread them all.

4. The Bagthorpe Family (Helen Cresswell). I didn't read the Bagthorpe Saga, a series of ten books, until I was a grown-up. No matter. I want to be adopted into this extremely dysfunctional British family. Dad, a grumpy television writer for the BBC, works from home and is constantly annoyed by his pesky brood. Mom writes an Agony column for a newspaper and is a part-time magistrate. The four kids have numerous Strings to their Bows (except for Jack the hero of the first story, Ordinary Jack). Add in the wacky extended family members and mayhem is the result. Hilarious.

5. The Blossom Family (Betsy Byars). Another wacky, yet lovable group of eccentrics, the Blossoms have all sorts of adventures. In the first book, The Not-Just-Anybody Family, Junior tries to fly with a pair of homemade wings and ends up in the hospital. Meanwhile his brother and sister try to get Grandpa out of jail for breaking the peace.  A very, very funny series.

6. The Darling Family (J. M. Barrie). When I was five, I wanted nothing more than for Peter Pan to fly through my bedroom window (I kept it open just in case) and take me away to Neverland. Nowadays, staying put with the Darlings seems much more appealing. Sure, the father can be a drag at times, but all in all the family was a happy one. Plus I'd have Nana as my dog!

7. The Morland Family (Jane Austen). With all the families to choose from Austen's novels, the Morlands from Northanger Abbey might appear an unusual choice. Yet I think I would prefer them to the Bennet household.  True, it is a large family and they don't have much money and time for their brood, but Mr. and Mrs. Morland are both sensible, caring people. Catherine, the heroine, has deep affection for them and her siblings and they for her. When she comes back home in disgrace, it is her family's love that comforts and soothes her wounded pride. Can't ask for more than that.

8. The Ramsay Family (Virginia Woolf). Okay, maybe not the happiest of families, still ever since first reading To the Lighthouse I wanted to crawl inside its pages and take my place among the Ramsays.

9. The Brangwen Family (D. H. Lawrence). This novel follows three generations of the Bragwen family, who reside in the Midlands of England. I was most taken by the relationship between the sister Ursula and Gudrun, which is continued in Women in Love.

10. The Addams Family by Charles Addams. Okay, this last one is cheating somewhat, except Charles Addams did create an amazing cast of characters in The Addams Family and some were published as books. In my heart of hearts, I have to admit that if I had to choose one family to live with it would be these crazy kooks. They do their own thing and don't care what others think of them. They may not always be forgiving of outsiders (there was that unfortunate incident with Christmas carolers), yet they love and are tolerant of each other.

Now it's your turn. What characters would you most like to share a home with?


  1. I just finished The Saturdays over the weekend, and I love the Melendys! I'm hoping to read The Moffats sometime soon as well. I like how you focused on family units - I wound up choosing characters from children's books that I'd like to have as children, because I wanted to focus on kids' books, but what you did works really well, too. Great list!

  2. Not sure if this counts, but I always wished I'd been a member of the quasi-family in the school Jo runs in Little Men.

  3. It counts! I loved Little Men as a kid. I really should reread it one of these days.