Weekly Tea Discussion: Adult Female Characters

I started thinking about this when I read Kernel of Nonsense’s post ” ‘Perfect Heroes’ “. Although she mainly concentrates on female protagonists in YA literature, she questions why are female protagonists portrayed as insecure and awkward while the male characters are portrayed as “perfect”. And it gave me an idea on a different topic: the portrayal of female characters in adult fiction. There is always a discussion about young girls being portrayed in literature but never any real discussion about adult woman. Are there any adult female characters to look up to?

I know some of you are already go on the defense and believe that I’m forgetting the likes of Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre and while they are terrific, I was more thinking of contemporary heroines. Adult female

Hermoine Granger (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005)
Hermoine Granger (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005)

characters who are written in this century. When we’re asked about present day heroines who we admire, some immediately respond Katniss Everdeen and Hermoine Granger. These two great characters are great role models and should be just admired. However, what about the characters who are in their 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s? Where is their recognition when it comes to admiration?

Maybe it has something to do with age. Young girls need someone to look up to and there is no one better to look up to, especially if they match or are around their age. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t feel a deep connection compared to their feelings towards younger characters. But what about adult characters? Why aren’t they gaining as much popularity compared to young adult characters?

Maybe it has something do with how they are perceived. When a woman is the main character of a novel, it is perceived that the book will be centered around a romance, making them the stereotypical woman waiting around for a man. Now we know this is not always true but that is the stereotype that is attached with adult female characters. So it is not surprising to see female characters in YA literature are more appealing than adult female characters. They have adventures and do more with their lives.

But that doesn’t mean we should shortchange adult characters. They may not be fighting an oppressive regime in a dystopian future or having magical adventures but that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as interesting . We read to take a little trip from reality but it is nice to see characters who actually have to deal with the trials and tribulations of real life. Not only finding romance in their life but also with their jobs and life in general. We look up to YA characters with high esteem. It doesn’t mean we can’t do the same with adult ones.

https://cupofteawiththatbookplease.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/ca21d-wells.pngSo I thought to myself: which contemporary adult female characters I think deserved huge popularity and high praise? Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of that many but I managed to narrow it down to these three:

  • Heather Wells from the Size 12 is Not Fat series by Meg Cabot – She lost everything and was abandoned by people who supposedly cared about her, yet she managed to make a name for herself on her own terms.
  • Lou Clark from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – She is popular but I think she can be even more popular especially what she went had to deal with.
  • Jessica Rae Thomas from One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – A single mom who unselfishly does everything for her children…qualities of a great female character.

So this isn’t me whining saying that YA female characters shouldn’t be getting all of the attention. All the years of them being ignored, I’m glad that they are getting the recognition that they deserve. But I’m afraid that with the rise of popularity of YA female characters we set aside the adult female characters that started it all. They can be strong and independent just as well YA characters. I think it is about time to we appreciate them. In this massive book world, there is enough room for both.

Thoughts? Do you any other adult female characters you would add to the list?




Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

6 thoughts on “Weekly Tea Discussion: Adult Female Characters

  1. “They can be strong and independent just as well YA characters.” I think women should be interesting but don’t have to be strong and independent. I don’t read fiction for role models. Women tend to be relational so super independent women don’t seem real to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not saying that all characters should be strong and independent but at least real. I just wish when a book becomes popular we’re not only choosing the books with female characters who are either weak like in Fifty Shades of Grey or psychotic like in Gone Girl.


      1. I haven’t read those books (I’m always back in the 19th century) but didn’t Fifty Shades come from fan fiction? I guess a lot of women identified with the “weak” main character. I wonder if this is just an exaggerated fantasy about old fashioned roles of the strong, aggressive man taking charge . . . we’ve made men very confused about what we need them to be. 🙂 And don’t we women still tend to think in relational terms?

        I also think the media machine knows what will titillate people and that’s what they hype. I know people who looked down their noses at Fifty Shades but still bought it “to see what the fuss was.” I think we as consumers have to have some impulse control. If we value certain types of characters then we should avoid buying the junk food stories.

        I think of Middlemarch and the beautifully drawn female characters but is that what most women are searching for? Chick-lit with its pretty covers sells. It seems Sex in the City type women are the only women (and I can’t relate) or crazy women (maybe can relate sometimes lol).

        As bad as the old days were some of the best female characters come from before modern feminism. (my opinion).
        I wonder why.

        TV does a better job with women than books and movies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No I agree. I think that’s why I prefer reading 17th-19th century literature because even though some of the expectations may not be current, they were more real than some of the characters are being portrayed now. And people assume because they are classics and are in the past, they can’t represent modern feminism. They are just not reading carefully,


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