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With eight grandchildren under the age of nine, I know a bit about lively characters and I seem to need them in stories that I enjoy most.  It makes sense until I try to name some of those lively characters that I crave and then I hit a snag.  How lively?  In comparison to what other characters?  Are the characters lively because the plot is action-filled?  

I have just started a book where the one sister is the usual good type who is pretty and does her work without arguing and running off into the countryside.  She is pleasant and kind to her sister and so far just a stock character.  I feel sorry for her right now.  The livelier sister is going to get into deep trouble shortly for being careless and stubborn partly, but she is lively and she is the main protagonist.  I am grateful that she questions things and right now I am wondering why no one has given her a few answers.  I guess if they did the book would be over too soon, but I am a bit irritated on her behalf.

In another recent book that I read there were three sisters that were peripheral characters and one of them was also lively.  She only got on stage a couple of times, but I was interested in her and I hope to hear more in the sequel when I read it.  

If a character is not lively will they explore their world?  Will we see what is causing problems if they do not poke around?  If they don’t get into trouble how can the story advance?  And yet, there are many thousands of books that I have read where the characters are not all that lively.  The books win prizes and are on the best seller list and I do like them, but oh, for a lively character from time to time.  

One reason that Mrs. Mike by Nancy and Benedict Freedman always makes my ten best loved books list is because Katherine Mary O'Fallon Flannigan is very, very lively.  She is also courageous and takes on the wilderness of Canada and its various kinds of people with aplomb.  She is not one to sit still.  She meddles and explores and suffers and loves.  She was also a real person.

Here is my list of lively people and I guess there are no surprises to those who are long-time readers of Bookflurries.

Mrs. Pollifax

Jo Alcott

Elizabeth Bennet

This site does a wonderful job of explaining why Elizabeth makes my list:

Soon after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen wrote about Elizabeth Bennet, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know".

Description: She has a "lively playful disposition".

Her father thinks her "quickest".

Pip from Great Expectations

Ron Weasley and the twins

Rosalind in As You Like It

Tom Sawyer

Kaylin Neya from The Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara

Barely a teenager, Kaylin Neya is a thief, a fugitive and an attempted assassin. She also has a smart mouth, sharp wits and mysterious markings on her skin.
Marian Starrett from Shane

Lord Valentine from Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg

The reason that it hurt so much in the sequels that Valentine would be leaving the upper world was that he was so lively and it seemed like a burial.  

Precious Ramotswe

The books may be slow paced (and I like them that way), but I think Precious is lively.  

Tristan in All Creatures Great and Small

Mutt…Kate Shugak’s dog in the Dana Stabenow mysteries

Diarmuid in The Fionavar Tapestries by Guy Gavriel Kay

Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill, from Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

Bess Crawford in the series by the Todds

Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird

Pippin and Merry, Hobbits of the Shire

Muriel in The Accidental Tourist

Toad in the Wind and the Willows

Don Camillo from The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi

Anne of Green Gables

Falco, the PI in ancient Rome series by Lindsey Davis

Lymond of The Lymond Chronicles and Niccolo of House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett

Robin Hood and Little John

Stephanie Plum and her Grandma

Emma Graham in Hotel Paradise and sequels by Grimes

Who are your favorite lively characters?

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NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


Which is your favorite lively character?

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