10. Tess Tess of the D’Urbevilles
I’ve never seen a film or TV adaptation that does Tess justice. Sure, she feels sorry for herself quite a lot, and sure she calls her child Sorrow (I mean, WHAT is with that??) but Hardy manages to get across a toughness that has not yet – to my knowledge – made it to the screen, earning Tess a place on my list.
9. Lady Chatterly Lady Chatterly’s Lover
She’s a super hot lady who knows what she wants, and goes purposefully about getting it, and I’m a big fan, but let’s all be honest with ourselves here – everyone in the world’s favourite character in this book is Mellors, the hot gamekeeper. Grrr!
8. Esther Summerson Bleak House
Esther is a bit of an unusual choice for me, in terms of favourite female characters. She’s quiet and deferential, but she has a strength and an endurance in that quietness, and that is why she is on my list.
7. Gudrun and Ursula Women In Love
These sisters are a special BOGOF in my list, because I can’t choose between them. Fancy a bit of philosophical pondering alongside your sexual encounter? Look no further than these two sisters for a bit of sex followed with, “Oh but Rupert don’t you wonder what it all MEANS? I mean to exist…?” etc etc etc.
6. Rebecca Rebecca
Ok, so she’s not the heroine blah blah stop breaking the rules you say. Shut up this is my list, I say, and even though Rebecca never really appears she sounds like she was an amazing bitch, just not giving any of the fucks and wanting to dress up as a shepherdess and hang out on her boat so she has my vote, sounds amazing fun. The narrator woman is so BLAH.
5. Lolita Lolita
4. Daisy The Great Gatsby
3. Emma, Emma
Meddleuse supreme – if you’ve got a life dilemma, she’s got an opinion. Also inspired this fab Hollywood modernisation:
2. Scout To Kill a Mockingbird
1. Cathy, Wuthering Heights
She’s hot, she’s crazy, she’s going to come back from the dead to mess with you. What’s not to love?
Also inspired the best ever novel-inspired song:
BONUS PRIZE FOR LEAST APPEALING FEMALE CHARACTER:
Little Nell The Old Curiosity Shop
I believe it was that noted wit Oscar Wilde who said “It would take a heart of stone not to laugh when little Nell dies”, and I do believe that he was right.
Chime in with your favourites in the comments! Feel free to tell me that I’m wrong 😉