National Library Week: 7 Things We Love About The Library

April 11, 2015 by

Nat'l Library Week

This upcoming week is National Library Week!! It is a week to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of libraries and librarians. You may not have noticed, gentle reader, that we Carruths love.the.library. We are at the library at least once a week for one reason or another. So, in honor of National Library Week, I thought I would tell you 7 things we love about our library.

1. It’s Free! Let’s just start with the obvious. Books are expensive and we read a lot of them. I can’t drop $23 on a book I may not even like or read again each time I want a new book. I think Dave Ramsey would agree. Checking out books from the library is a risk free way to try new books and series. Evangeline has her own card now and loves picking out a new stack of books each week. She’s a kid who gets it — don’t over think, just check it out!

Check out all the books

2. Inter-Library Loans — Between the 14 library branch locations in East Baton Rouge Parish, we’re able to find almost anything we want. But when I want some obscure, out-of-print Nero Wolfe mystery, or Ryan needs the original Sanskrit writings of some forgotten Desert Father, we can request an Inter-Library Loan. Most often our university or state library has what we want, but we’ve gotten books from the opposite side of the country before. Not only do you get the book you want, you get an overly sentimental connection to library users everywhere.

4. Beautiful Libraries — Ours is a love it-or hate it kind of city, I’m afraid. There are many complaints including poor city planning and butt-ugly 1970’s and 80’s architecture. The parish recently undertook to rebuild our main library. But! They made it gorgeous! They used “green” designs and materials! They are expanding the complex to include the already existing park and botanical gardens and adding offices, meeting spaces and a cafe! It’s a major project, but already the benefits are exciting. The library building, which is open now, won regional design awards in 2014. It’s poised to be a beautiful spot in the city available to anyone, and it’s not a shopping center!

main libaray Main Library (photo source: Mark Bienvenu Photographer )

3. Digital Resources — I recently introduced Ryan to the vast resources available though our “Digital Library”. I’ve been using our library’s Overdrive account for a year or more to listen to audiobooks (see Ode to the Audio Book.) But there’s a lot more out there than just audio and e-books. There are movies, music, operas and symphonies, news sources, magazines, genealogy sources,  foreign language courses and a whole lot of I-don’t-know-what-all else. In an age where the printed page is coming under attack, libraries are getting ahead of the fight and offering many more resources online.

5. Paintings —  One day at the library, Ryan noticed a large print of The Lady of Shalott. His eyes widened, he pointed and said “I want that”. We brought it home and hung it above our piano, in the kids play \ home-school room. We really enjoyed having it, so we decided to rotate new pictures into that spot. The kids help pick out what we get and it gets to hang in our house for 6 weeks. We get a changing decoration and it gives us the chance to look at art we otherwise may not get to see. 


6. The Children’s Section– Our kids love going into the children’s section. In addition to, well, BOOKS!, there are toys, coloring pages and computers available all the time. Nearly each week in the summer, the girls get to go with their Nana to story time. And when I can muster up the energy, we go to different programs during the week. I remember going to story time at the library when I was young and I’m excited that my kids now get to make those same memories, at the same library no less! All of which brings me to my last point.

7. Family Ties– We are a big-ish family with a small-ish budget. Going to the library is a way for us to spend time together enjoying the same things without spending money. I like knowing that the library will be a part of our kids’ childhoods. More than that, though, I hope they notice how nerdy their parents are. Ryan and I relish reading. We love learning. We love talking to each other about what we’re reading and learning (and writing blog posts…). By spending time as a family at the library, I hope our kids grow up appreciating intellectual curiosity. I hope our love of learning ties us closer as a family. Even though we may read different books and be interested in different areas,  we can still talk about what we checked out from the library.

2015 Reading Goal

March 11, 2015 by

I have enjoyed setting reading goals each year. As much as I love reading, having a goal in mind adds a little more fun. In the years past I’ve set increasingly more complicated goals. Number of books, page counts, generes and specific books. It is not bad, but this year I’m trying to simplify. I’ve set my book count list at 35 on As for the rest however, I want to sit back and follow my interests and see where I land at the end of the year. I also found this :


At first I was all gung-ho to check off each one. Now that it’s March and I realize there are 50 categories, I’m just keeping a tally of the books I’ve read and which category they fit into. This list has pointed me in the direction of some books I may not have otherwise read, like Presepolis. And I’m glad for that.

I’ve read a random smattering of books so far ranging from Deep Dark Down: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine to Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of Return to The Princess Bride: S. Morganstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, which is fun even the second time. I’ve nearly finished The Pillars of the Earth which I expect to throw me into a Middle-Ages reading binge.

I realize this is disappointingly short, but I am also working on posts of individual books and thoughts. They promise to be more interesting.

2014 Reading Goal Completed

March 10, 2015 by

I’m doing my best to stay up on the blogging saddle keeping the interwebs up to date. I know how important that is to the interwebs.

Last year, I concocted a complicated reading goal. Like the year before, my goal was three tiered:

  • 35 Books
  • 11,000 Pages
  • 8 Specific Southern Books

I managed to do some of those. I read 35 books, but came up short on my page count. Instead of all 8 Southern books, I read…3. Since this is about honesty, I’ll admit. Two of the three were audiobooks. I am a fraud.

2014 Books Southern

What’s more, I really didn’t like them. I know I know! Walker Percy! I can’t explain it. I did like the Flannery O’Connor short stories I read including A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Wise Blood, however….not so much with the liking. I still feel the need to improve my Southern repitoire; I think I’ll just tackle it at a slower pace.

I did like a number of the books I read and I even managed to write about some of them: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, The Salinger Contract by  Adam Langer, Plot it Yourself by Rex Stout and Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill and Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

2014 Books

I read all three of the The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo books which was no small undertaking. It was intense and at times quite dull, but over all, I think Lisbeth Salander is among my favorite characters now. I’ve been trying to write out my thoughts on the whole series. I hope to make some cohesive sense out of them soon. I started another series, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I’ve been surprised how much I like these books. I’ve read the first three and want to continue. There are obvious religious overtones — Dean Koontz is Catholic from what I understand– and that does come across in the books. But it’s not as though all the characters are black and white. Even Odd Thomas, the title character, considers himself sort of irreligious, unsure what the truth is. It makes him relateable. I’ve found the series so far refreshing.

Since this has already turned into a long, rambly kind of post, I think I’ll save my goals and accomplishments of 2015 for another post. What have you been reading? Find any gems lately?



5 Months??

March 7, 2015 by

Apparently it’s been five months since I’ve last blogged. I’m not even sure where to start. Um, Christmas happened? I’ll save all the wordy words and just give you the picture highlights:

October 2010

  • Evangeline turned 4!
  • Genevieve was Baptised
  • We visited lots of Pumpkin Patches
  • Reuben was Tigger for Halloween and Genevieve was Piglet!

November 2014

  • As many Holiday-Related Events as Possible
  • Renassance Festival
  • St. Jude Walk
  • City Park Lights
  • Lots of Baking

December 2014

  • More Events and More Baking!
  • Christmas Parade
  • Genevieve Turned 6 Months Old!

January 2015

  • A Lot of Staying Home Recouperating from the Holidays
  • Amazing New Years with NO KIDS!!

February 2015

  • Crafting Itch Returned!

That more or less catches you up. Not much more than the usual. I’ve set a new reading goal this year. Last year I met my goal of 35 books read. I will come back and write a full recap. This year I’ve only set a book number goal, no page amount or specific titles. Just reading. It’s been nice actually.

We’ve had a bit of a break since the holidays, but our Spring calendar is already filling up. We’ll have our annual St. Joseph’s Altar, Easter, Reuben, Felicity and then Genevieve’s birthdays. Although I feel I’m forgetting a few things. Anyway, I’m climbing back up on the sadle and I hope to keep you all better updated!!


Fall Toddler Crafts

October 18, 2014 by

The weather is consistently staying cooler not hot. We even had all the windows and doors open for most of this week. I think it’s almost safe to say, it is fall! Knock on wood. I posted before about some of the decorations we’ve put up around the house to celebrate. These were things I made very quickly and very cheaply just to have some fall color around the house.

There is another way we mark the seasons now, and that is our gallery wall in the dining room. Really it’s just an ugly blank wall that we’ve done nothing with in the nearly 3 years we’ve been here. One day I started sticking the kids’ art projects up there and just like that, we have a new tradition. We’ve begun our fall wall. It’s still a work in progress, but I wanted to show off what we’ve done so far.

Fall Tree

This was the first thing we did. I’ve been getting bolder in “designing” these walls. I thought putting up a tree would give us a lot of chances to add to it in the style of woodland creatures.

I found a roll of brown package paper at the dollar store. This turned out to be the easiest way to make the trunk rather than construction paper, poster board or anything that required painting. I taped up one long strip the height of the trunk I wanted. I then came back and cut slight curves on either side to make it look like a trunk and not just a piece of paper taped to the wall. We used some of the scraps to make branches.

I’m not crazy about the leaves, but they will do. I took pieces of red, orange and yellow construction paper and cut out random leaf shapes. Then Evie helped me tape them up. I had a pack of foam cut out leaves from the dollar store, so we filled in some with those. I feel like it could be fuller, but frankly, I don’t want to cut out more leaves, So it is what it is!


The first thing we added to our tree was bird nests. I took a small paper plate and cut it in half. Each girl colored their “nest” and glued on small twigs we found in the yard. I cut out little bubble bird bodies and the girls glued on googley eyes and the feathers. Once everything was attached and dry, we picked branches for them to rest.


This is my favorite! I may leave it up somewhere in the house after fall ends. At first I was going to do each of the kids’ foot prints on a separate canvas and make a sort of collage with them. But then when I found this canvas at JoAnn I immediately switched to this idea. I’m so glad I did, I love it!  I painted the whole canvas blue, then lightly sketched the line where the branch would be. That way I was able to more or less line up the kids’ feet.  Once the foot prints were dry, I went back and painted in the tree, branches, leaves, feet, beaks and eyes. I also took a slightly darker brown and wrote in the kids’ initials and 2014 on the tree as if it were carved in. This one makes me smile every time I go by it.

Fall Acorn Banner

What good is a fall gallery wall without a label? I used these two tone acorn foam cut outs from the Dollar Store. To make the letters, I wrote the letter on the acorn using a glue stick, then Evie spread glitter all over it. I’ll honestly admit, I am surprised it worked out so well.  After we did all the letters, I punched holes in the top of each acorn and Evie sewed jute string through. If you repeat this craft, word of advice. String the acorns *before* you do the glue and glitter. It seems so obvious now, but it wasn’t at the time…To finish off the banner, I tied some red gingham ribbon between the letters for a little added cuteness.

I’ve got some more ideas in mind, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. At least for a week or so, though, they’ll get put on the back burner since we’ve got a birthday party coming up next weekend. Sweet Evie is turning four and she’s so excited to celebrate (and have cake). So I’ll be distracted by that for the coming week. If the party turns out cute, I’ll be sure to share on the old blog soon.

St. Jude’s Give Thanks Walk

October 16, 2014 by

We didn’t make it very public but about 4 months ago, just after his first birthday, Reuben had a seizure in his bed. I opened his door, turned on the light and let his sisters in to wake him up from a nap. I heard them start a chant of “Benny wake up! Benny wake up!” as I walked to the laundry room to get him a clean change of clothes. I talked to Ryan for a few minutes before realizing that the girls were still chanting But I didn’t hear Reuben laughing. My heart dropped as I rushed to his room, knowing something wasn’t right.

He had a prolonged, a-typical seizure from an unknown cause. It took over half an hour for the seizure to stop, and even then, he remained  semi-conscience. In the ambulance ride to the hospital he seized again. It was at least 5 hours until he began to come around. I cannot describe the horror of seeing my child in such a state; I felt so helpless and scared as the doctors discussed CAT scans and Meningitis. All I could do was cradle my son and chant “Benny wake up. Benny wake up”

We are thankful every day that Reuben is still in fine health. All tests have been clear and he has gone almost 5 months without any further seizure activity. It is everyone’s hope that this was an isolated incident and will not affect his future health. At least that’s what the doctors say. As a parent, I don’t think I’ll ever get the images of that night out of my mind. I don’t think I will ever feel completely at ease again knowing how quickly something so serious can happen.

Since Reuben’s seizure, I have been more keen than ever to donate to children’s medical charities. I am thankful and relieved that our experience didn’t involve more than a single night of observation in a hospital. For many families, childhood sickness means so much more. A friend of mine from high school and college spent a few years working for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She could not say enough good and positive things about the organization and facilities. I was struck by the sincerity of her stories and I have come to respect St. Jude a great deal. She has been trying for years to get me to participate in their Give Thanks Walk and I’ve always had a pregnancy \ baby \ reason not to. But not this year! I’ve started a team to walk and raise money and I’m so excited to finally be *doing* something worthwhile to help. I’m looking for people to join my team to help raise money and walk with me on November 22. It is at the BREC park on Highland starting at 9 am.

You can follow this link to join the team or donate!

Your donations help keep treatment, travel, housing and food free for patients and families. The research done at St. Jude is freely shared to doctors and scientists worldwide.

Thank you to everyone who wants to help!

Pinterest Challenge : Crayon on Wall

October 2, 2014 by

Three-year-olds! Am I right? So recently, Evangeline decided to play “teacher” with a black crayon and our lightly painted wall. Her penmanship was pretty impressive, I’ll give her that. I won’t admit to how long I left her art work stay on display, I’ll only say today I decided I could no longer live like that.

This went on for the entire length of the wall

So I did what any modern parent does when faced with a common problem, I went to the internet. I found a number of magic cleaning solutions promising to quickly and easily remove the crayon. Since I had a lot of space to work with, I decided to test a few of the different methods to see which worked the best. I discovered that no mater what, it was going to take some elbow grease. Our walls are moderately textured and, well, it’s was black crayon. I tried:

Crayon on Wall

Magic Eraser: This was one of my favorite methods. It did quickly and fairly completely remove the crayon with minimal scrubbing. It smeared a lot and I had to keep stopping to go rinse out the eraser and start again. I was using an x-brand eraser and it just fell apart entirely before I was finished. I’ve used both the name brand and the knock-offs and have found them to be pretty comparable. I can’t say for sure if the name brand would have held out better or not.

Baking Soda: I actually had high hopes for this one, I can’t tell you why. But I found that it did like nothing. I dipped a wet towel into a bowl of baking soda and rubbed the paste-clump into the wall. It barely lightened the crayon. After scrubbing harder, it started to come up and smear. It would have taken a lot of work for minimal results and it left all kinds of clumpy baking soda paste on the floor.

WD-40: It worked a little better than the baking soda, but Holy Accostic Smell Batman! Maybe if you were in a pinch and had a small area to clean, this would have worked well. After I sprayed and wiped my small test area, I just put the can away. I knew I didn’t want to use it to clean an entire wall. The smell would have been way too strong.

Toothpaste: The clear winner! I’m glad I tried this one after the WD-40. The minty toothpaste helped cover up the smell. I was really surprised how well this worked. I almost didn’t try it because, well, our toothpaste is kind of expensive to be smearing all over the walls. Luckily I found a small nearly full travel size tube of non-gel tooth paste. I didn’t have an old toothbrush so I used an all purpose scrub brush. On the one hand, the bigger brush was good since I had such a large area to clean. On the other, I think I ended up loosing a lot of toothpaste because it got pushed down so far into the bristles. Nonetheless, I wet the walls a little, then globbed on the toothpaste. I came back over it with the scrub brush and immediately the crayon came up. It took a bit of scrubbing to get all the little specks out of the texture, but the bulk of the marks came up easily. It smeared quite a bit and I had to come back with a clean wet rag to wipe the wall down.

toothpaste winner

Ultimately I used the toothpaste method on the whole wall, then went back with the magic eraser to help with the last lingering specks. When it looked good enough, I wiped the whole wall down a few times with a clean rag. I suspect I’ll still have some back smudges in the morning, but they should come up with just a wet rag. The only real draw back to this method was that it required more elbow grease to let Evie help with the clean up. Although I suspect it won’t be long and there’ll be more for her to clean.

I Could Have Slept All Night

September 26, 2014 by

giphyI’ve heard it often sited that sleep deprivation can have the same physical effects as intoxication. This factoid is usually told as a cautionary tale to cross country truckers. Its only been recently that I’ve heard the same tid bit applied to new parents.

Months of broken sleep totaling less than 6 hours total means most parents of newborns are walking around legally impaired.

Maybe this explains why baby Ugg boots are a thing.

While the physical toils go uncontested, little is made of the psychological effects of so many restless nights. What happens to a person sitting night after night in a dark room, rocking and humming to a semi-sentient creature?










Song parodies of course!

This is my most recent accomplishment. You can decide if picturing Audrey Hepburn is a help or not.

I Could Have Slept All Night

I could have slept all night

I could have slept  all night

and still have slept some more


I could have closed my eyes

and dreamt a thousand things

I’ve never dreamt before


I only know if she

wouldn’t have screamed for me

I could have slept



all night

So don’t worry about us parents. We’re just up all night rockin’ to the rhythm of our own insanity. But seriously, though, if you see us driving with that “baby on board” sticker, it may just be best for you to leave a little extra space. We really can’t be held responsible for what we may or may not do on less than 6 hours of broken sleep.

Quick Fall Decorations

September 26, 2014 by

We’ve had nearly a week straight of less than 100 degree temperatures!! While part of me is sad to see the peak of hurricane season come and go so quietly, a larger part of me is relieved things are finally cooling down. The first day of cooler weather, I walked outside with the kids to play in the yard and just took a deep breath and said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have survived another Louisiana summer.”

Less humidity is invigorating. Immediately my thoughts turned to crisp weather and the holidays and of course I wanted to decorate! At this point in life, seasonal decorations have to come cheaply and easily. I can’t really pull out extensive craft supplies to work on a 3 hour project, nor can I spend $50 on a single wreath. But it’s still fun to decorate and change the house for a new season, even if it’s not Better Homes and Gardens perfect. So here are some of the things I’ve done around the house for fall!

fall shelvesThe easiest decorations to make are ones for sale at the store ;) There are some beautiful things out there, but the often cost a lot. Or at least what seems like a lot to me. I went to the Dollar General and picked up these things. The leaf tile I bought at JoAnn’s last year at their after season sale. All told, I spent around $10

The rest of our decorations are pretty much Dollar Store crafts. I got these three large felt shapes and simply hot glued them together. I laid the center leaf on top of both of the side pumpkins. Voila, a table runner!

Table runner

Evangeline and I made these pumpkin garlands to hang in front of our two windows in the dining room. It would have taken me 5 minutes, but it took a little longer because I used it as a learning opportunity and let Evie do most of the assembly. These are foam pumpkin shapes from the Dollar Store. It’s hard to see in the picture, but some are plain and some are covered in glitter (Evie got to practice making patterns). Using a hole punch, I put two holes near the top, then Evie sewed a jute string through each one.

pumpkin garland

This last project was a little more involved, but just as quick. I saw this idea on Pinterest for using embroidery hoops to make little pumpkins. The original pin left the hoops plain and went for a natural and slightly more abstract look. I decided to make mine a little more animated looking. It takes two embroidery hoops to make one pumpkin — one outer ring and two inner rings. I made one large pumpkin and two small. You inner lock the two inner rings then slip them inside the outer ring and tighten the screw. I found the larger ring was easier to do; the wood of the smaller rings are thicker, but it worked just as well.

Embroidery Hoop Pumpkin

I painted the inside and outside of the rings in alternating yellow and orange. Once they were assembled, I cut brown stem looking pieces out of thicker construction paper. I bought a vine of fake leaves from the Dollar Store and using hot glue, I attached the stem as well as the leaves. My version takes a few more steps, but it does give a different look.


Are things cooling off where you are? Are you making any preparations for the fall season? The kids and I are starting on our Fall Gallery Wall in the dinning room. So be on the look out for new additions to that.  In case you’ve missed the others, we’ve done a Spring Gallery Wall and a Summer Gallery Wall too.

Writing the Opposite Sex

September 17, 2014 by

As soon as I possibly could, I read The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). It came as no surprise that I loved it! What I enjoyed the most was the character development of both Robin and Cormoran. This was partly because it makes me happy to see Rowling setting up for a continuing series (keep ’em coming, J.K.!!). But also, Rowling has such a knack for writing complex, diverse and completely realistic characters; it is fun to watch them develop. After finishing The Silkworm, I spent a few days just absorbing the novel and allowing my mind to wander.

I noted how aptly J.K. Rowling can write characters of the opposite sex (hello entire male cast of the Harry Potter series). She’s able to write characters who think, process, speak and act in completely believable male ways. At the same time, her male characters are not stale or sterotypes. They are complex, well-rounded characters who develop through the story and display various virtues without being feminized. Each one unique to himself and not a copy of characters who’ve come before (save maybe Fred and George;) )

Of course this train of thought went off in many directions: are female authors as a group more capable of writing characters of the opposite sex? Is there some empathy more readily available to women to write a male character with depth? Are there as many equally complex and dynamic female characters written by male authors?

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had thinking about this lately. I have had a continuing conversation comparing characters written by authors of the opposite sex. There are some obvious short comings to these comparisons: lead or iconic characters are less often female and as a whole in the western literary world, more authors are male. So by sheer numbers, it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. But I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the best characters written by authors of the opposite sex.

My criteria were: enduring characters who’s stories retain some level of popularity today, characters who are believable and realistic in their gender (thus showing apt skill of the author to write more than a simple characture), characters who have some real depth or complexity to them, not merely cardboard cut-outs.  I also eliminated characters based on real people or folklore since they lack complete originality from the author. So here goes the fun!

Most Notable Male Characters Written by Female Authors:

  • Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird — Few male American characters have the strength of character and virtue prized in Atticus Finch. He is an enduring and beloved character both for his perseverance of conviction and his unconventional role as a father. He walks in both compassion and strength, an educated man who is a friend and advocate of the everyman. Atticus Finch is a man we would all be proud to know.
  • Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind — In direct contrast to Finch’s still-water, easy-going character is Rhett Butler. Just as enduring of a character, Rhett is pretty much everything Finch is not. He is a fun-loving, self-serving, woman-wooing son-of-a-bitch who we all love. Margaret Mitchell reveals the true depth of Rhett Butler, however, many times. Yes he is a war profiteer, but his convictions also lead him to serve in the army. Sure he just wants to save himself, but Scarlett would never have made it out of Atlanta without his help. Bonnie. I’ll just leave that there. As we see Scarlett hardening through the war, Rhett softens. From the beginning, he sees through Scarlett’s facade and shrewdly knows her for who she really is. He opens himself for love and accepts responsibility all while retaining his virile rugged masculinity.
  • Albus Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series– Really I could have chosen nearly any male character from the series (Harry, Hagrid, Lupin, Lucious) but I’ve already gushed about how great of a writer Rowling is. When it comes to Dumbledore, what isn’t there to love? He is a brilliant mix of genteel strength, power and humanity. He is a man who craves power and prides himself on his intelligence. Yet there is a self-deprecating humility about him and a level of penitential self-control which keeps him on a narrower path than the likes of Voldemort and Grindlewald.  At the close of the series, Dumbledore’s many faults are revealed. These faults serve to humanize the great wizard and embolden the hero, Harry to ultimate victory. While I wouldn’t characterize Dumbledore as a father figure to Harry, I think it is safe to say without a doubt that their dynamic would be entirely different had Dumbledore been written as a female character.
  • Severus Snape from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series — I tried to limit myself to one Rowling character, but I think it would be a discredit to this list to leave off Severus Snape. Just thinking about the final revelations of Snape’s characters choke me up. Throughout the majority of the series, Professor Snape is simply a brooding bitter man with questionable allegiance. He hates Harry because he hated his father, he’s disgruntled in his job and he wears all black. Until, oh until, we find the true strength and loyalty of his character. Despite all the years, all the danger and all the heartache, Snape remains true to the memory of the only woman he ever loved. He protects her son at all costs and ultimately puts himself in such danger as to lose his life in order that Harry may proceed to victory.
  • Maxim DeWinter from Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca — I considered also Richard Grenvile from the same author’s The King’s General, but I don’t find him to be as enduring in the pop culture sense. Maxim is, to me, the epitome of  a haunted man. His brooding and sudden shifts of mood are terrifying while his passion and affection for his second wife melt your heart. DuMaurier perfectly writes the masculine version of a character haunted by guilt and ghosts. He turns inward, scared and ashamed of his secret until he snaps and lashes out violently. Only then to return to the Maxim his wife loves.

Men Written by Women

  • Honorable Mention:
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice
    • Dr. Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
    • Ashley Wilkes from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind

Most Notable Female Characters Written by Male Authors:

  • Lady Macbeth from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth — Is there a female character with more depth or more complexity than Lady Macbeth? I think not. Themes of power, desire and ambition are common in Shakespeare’s plays, and in Lady Macbeth they are absolutely explosive. She laments and curses her womanhood, which keeps her from killing Duncan herself and achieving her ambition. Despite her woman’s breasts however, Lady Macbeth’s blood is thickened and her passage to regret is indeed stopped up. She is haunted by guilt and ghosts much like Maxim DeWinter, however, her’s is an entirely different path altogether. Never is there a story of more woe than this, of corruption and destruction upon Lady Macbeth’s soul.
  • Ophelia from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet —  You don’t get to be “The Bard” for nothing. Shakespeare’s dramas seem to be an exercise in “how many ways can a person be driven to madness?” While Lady M is the cause of her own crazy, Ophelia is driven mad by her lack of power and control. It is the sudden withdraw of those powerful men who kept her safe that lead her to her own end. Lady M is driven mad by her strength while Ophelia is undone by her weakness.
  • Blanche DuBois from Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Names Desire — Speaking of crazy. It would seem male authors are most apt at creating women whoare driven to insanity. Like Ophelia, Blanche is a woman who’s support is pulled out from under her. During her visit to her sister, she reveals the truth to her situation. She slowly looses her grip on reality while still trying to maintain the standards of her social status.
  • Irene Adler from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia — Not a crazy person. Or at least not in the same sense of the others on this list. Here is a woman bedecked with the highest praise and honor Sherlock Holmes can possibly allow. “The Woman”. Surely hundreds of pages can be written on Doyle’s choice of title. Irene Adler is not merely a female version of Sherlock Holmes. Rather she is a woman who is able to gracefully move through society while also possessing wit and intelligence to match Holmes. She carries herself with pride and gentility and is not easily undone or intimidated.
  • Hester Prynne from Nathanel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter is an enduring story for many reasons, one of which is the unique take on shamed women. Hawthorne does not merely recreate a character of low morals who is caught in her debauchery and serves as a warning to others. When Hester becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she is immediately shamed by the community with a scarlet letter sewn to her dress. But through the story she bears her burden faithfully never seeking retribution or apology. She retains the love she has for the father of her child, without naming him and destroying his character along with hers. In this act she illuminates the inequality shown to men verses women who commit the same sin. She is a woman of strength, integrity and silent grace.

Women Written by Men

  • Honorable Mention:
    • Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson’s Millennium series
    • The Wife of Bath from Geoffery Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

I am perfectly willing to admit my lists may be flawed, especially the latter. During this exercise I realized I have not read many of the classic books with female characters written by male authors, namely: Anna Karenina, Lolita, Les Miserables or Sophie’s Choice. Also eliminating folk tale type characters did limit the second list greatly. There have been some male authors and poets who have beautifully breathed life into many females of the past. So there may be some big holes in the lists. But it was a fun thought experiment none the less.

Who makes your list? Which characters do you love who were penned by an author of the opposite sex? Do you think the sex of an author effects how well they are able to create characters of the opposite sex?

Tales of a Crazy Person

the life and times of an introvert getting it all back together


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