I was listening again to the podcast I made when India Knight was my guest at one of the first Books That Built Me: I’d completely forgotten that we’d had a marvellous chat about literary heroines, in particular Amber from Forever Amber, who is spirited, and enterprising and madly sexy, and after I’ve posted this, I’m going to toddle off and spend a lovely comforting afternoon re-reading it.
Anyway, here’s what India had to say
HB Who is your favourite heroine? If you had to choose …
IK Amber in Forever Amber.
HB Oh yes. She’s wonderful.
IK I should have had Forever Amber on there.
HB Wonderful earrings and Bruce, Lord Bruce.
IK Because she is really, really terrible and she will stop at nothing and I really like that.
HB She is quite Becky Sharp actually in that way.
IK She is quite Becky Sharp, she is worse than Becky Sharp actually and the ending is so unbearable I can actually barely bear to talk about it, but yeah, Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, if you haven’t read it, massive, the original bodice ripper. Completely fantastic and again actually very learned for all its bodice rippiness and she wrote it because he husband was doing a PhD in some aspect of the restoration of Charles II, so she wrote it using his research to have something to do. She is my favourite, she is really not very nice at all, but by the end you are so rooting for her.
HB And actually also a book that is brilliant at 18 and continues to be completely brilliant at every age, even when in one’s prime..
IK I like all those books. I like Moll Flanders and I like Becky Sharp and I like Amber, I like those pain in the arse women, particularly those pain in the arse women during the restoration. It seems to be there wasn’t a lot you could do apart from be a bit sharp elbowed and pain in the arsey and sleep with the king and try your hardest to be somebody’s mistress, rather than sit at home all red faced doing the laundry. I mean there’s no contest really, so I like stories about women with a bit of oomph.
Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor