|Credit @Josephine Gronk
I have seen a downward trend in this type of heroine. It is a shame, because we need her, because we are her. We cannot all be Katniss Everdene.
There are gentler and more expert versions of this – Jo March of Little Women, Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, even Jane in Jane Eyre. Every one of them loved, adored, and celebrated even today – because they are versions of ourselves: foolish, loving, muddled, passionate, desperately happy and unhappy, both wrong and right. I would love to meet another one of these complicated heroines in contemporary novels, but I have not.
It might be because fundamentally, as a reader I am drawn to the real heroines – the ancient ones. Women in classical mythology suffered more viscerally and lived lives more colourfully outside of our regimented modern societies. These women have shouted loud at me from a young age, and as a result, I have based many of my characters on ancient women. There is a current trend to pick these characters up and guide them towards a warmly reimagined version of their story – and in almost every example they become more likeable. But I say, let them be. Let women be horrible if their story needs them to be horrible. Medea kills her children to save them from a disastrous future, to punish her husband, and to ensure a secure future for herself. Agrippina poisons the Roman emperor, her uncle, in order to place her own son on the throne and is tormented and assassinated as a result. There is little of this in today’s storytelling – but perhaps we need it. Let female characters be angry, unhappy, and violent if it is true to them. Let them scream and cry and fight back, while male characters rush horribly through their own stories as ever, like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and even Patrick Bateman in the American Psycho. I say, bring back our tricky and unlikeable heroines. Let us be rid of the superhero woman and allow ourselves to revel in the flawed everywoman.
the glamour of the French Riviera lies the crumbling facade of Chateau de
Setes, a small slice of France still held by the British aristocracy. But this
long since abandoned chateau is now up for sale, and two people are desperate
to get their hands on it despite its terrible history. Summer, 1985: Ruby has stayed at the chateau
with her family every summer of her twelve years. It was her favourite place to
be, away from the strictures of her formal childhood, but this year uninvited
guests have descended, and everything is about to change... As the intense August heat cloaks the
chateau, the adults within start to lose sight of themselves. Old disputes are
thrown back and forth, tempers rise, morals loosen, and darkness begins to
creep around them all. Ruby and her two young friends soon discover it is best
not to be seen or heard as the summer spirals down to one fateful night and an
incident that can never be undone... Summer,
2010: One of the three young girls, now grown and newly widowed, returns to the
chateau, and in her fight to free herself from its grip, she uncovers what
truly happened that long, dark summer. With
riveting psychological complexity, The Ruins captures the glittering
allure of the Mediterranean, and the dark shadows that wait beneath the
More information about the author and her work can be found on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @phoebewynne and on Instagram @phoebewynnewrites