Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)
1) The obligatory but totally heartfelt mention of: Lizzie Bennet
2) One of my absolute favorites, with whom I would like to actually be friends: Mary Russell (Laurie King's series)
3) I grew up with (and a little bit into): Anne with an E
4) I bow down to: Taylor Greer (Kingsolver)
5) I really enjoyed: Door (Neverwhere)
6) I loved: Meg Murray and Vicky Austin (L'Engle)
7) I enjoyed accompanying: Harry (McKinley)
8) The obligatory but heartfelt mentions from the Bard: Beatrice, Rosaline, Lady M.
Good thing we could pick more than one! But that's actually, let's see... 11. Not bad, considering I definitely left off big female characters of books I love. Only if I love the character did she make the list. Although I'm sure I forgot some and I'll hopefully re/discover some excellent reads from others' responses.
1) Lizzie Bennett rocks because she is strong but playful, honest yet kind, confident and still learning. She sticks to her guns when it matters but clearly can still refine her understanding, to her benefit and others'. Humor and wit dancing upon a rock solid foundation are so more enjoyable than just a ditz, or just a rock.
2) Mary Russell because of the mind Kingsolver creates for her, a peculiar and expansive personality that makes any of the series' books an enjoyable read. She's brilliant, stalwart, wry, hardworking, religious, fragile in surprising places, and comfortable dining with nobility and squatting with beggars. She can speak a dozen languages, and can stand up to Sherlock Holmes! She's a remarkable yet utterly real person.
3) Anne Shirley can be annoying but mostly I love her for her romantic imagination and her dedication to the people and purposes she encounters, which she's always balancing with her dedication to herself. She was a friend when I became a teacher and went through, funnily enough, many of the same things. She's tough, too.
4) Taylor Greer from The Bean Trees is hilarious, naive, wise, human.... she speaks in great Taylorisms and doesn't just stand up for the abused and marginalized, she gives of herself to them, directly. I think she is exactly what the world and every nearing-twenty-year-old needs right now.
5) Door was just awesome. Gaiman writes cool female characters and Door is both thoughtful when it matters and kick-ass.
6) I think I actually prefer Vickie Austin to Meg Murray... I'd have to reread all those L'Engle books to recall, but I really liked Vickie the writer and bike-and-bum around town girl. Meg had better adventures overall. Both were admirable and companionable female protagonists.
7) Harry just lets you fall into her narrative. She's a tomboy but utterly a woman. And she takes that act wherever she needs it.
8) Beatrice because she is funny and flawed and deeply loving under it all. Her love comes out in flawed ways and her flaws flip around to love... weird and wonderful. Rosaline could have whimpered and wept but mostly just makes lemonade and fixes the mess of a kingdom all the men have made. And Lady M is of course evil, but delightfully so, a more real evil than the scores of wicked women in books.