By Brittney Reed-Saltz
People read books for different reasons. Some people are plot-driven, seeking out books with multitudinous twists and turns and non-stop action. Others read for information, and prefer nonfiction. Some are author-centric, and tend to stick to the same familiar names that have not let them down over the years.
But for some people, characters are the most important part of a text. These readers might forget exactly how a book ended, but their favorite characters’ first appearance will be emblazoned on their minds and hearts forever. These are the readers who like to imagine what it might be like to meet a character from a book. They’re the ones who identify wholeheartedly with Elizabeth Bennet or Hermione Granger or Holden Caulfield (or insert character here) and consider said kinship as good a way as any to explain their personalities.
I said “they” a lot in that paragraph, but of course I mean “we.” I’m definitely a character-driven reader, and each new book is an opportunity to meet new people who might change my life, regardless of the fact that they’re fictional.
And just like when you meet a new person and find yourself reminded of someone you already know–“Oh, you have to meet my friend So-and-So, I think you’d hit it off!”–I sometimes imagine making introductions between my favorite literary characters.
Here are some characters that I think would make great friends, despite living in different fictional worlds.
Henry DeTamble (The Time-Traveler’s Wife) and Tom Hazard (How to Stop Time)
Both Henry and Tom have problems with time: Henry has a condition that causes him to spontaneously time travel, while Tom’s causes him to age so slowly as to be nearly immortal. While these are two very different problems to have, I think that they would be able to sympathize with one another. They also share a love of music, though Tom might find Henry a bit quaint and naive… After all, he’s 439 years old.
Amy Dunne (Gone Girl) and Adele (Behind Her Eyes)
It’s hard to fully explain why Amy and Adele should hang out without revealing too much about either book and thereby spoiling the reading experience. But I will say that both of these women are highly intelligent, very crafty, and know what it’s like to keep a secret. I can imagine them meeting up for coffee and sharing the salacious details of their latest schemes, delighting in one another’s intricate deceptions. They would probably be frenemies, but I think they would have a good time.
Alice (The Hazel Wood) and Vivienne (The Cruel Prince)
This is another case of characters becoming friends through the shared weirdness of their existence. Alice grew up on the run from her the legacy of her grandmother, a reclusive author who penned a deeply strange collection of fairy tales. Vivi is a girl living in a fairy tale… Literally, in the Faerie realm, until she decides to try and return to the human world where she once lived. Both girls have been through more than their share of adventure and hardship. They could swap stories and give one another what survivors of trauma need: someone who will listen and believe.
Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Isabel Townsend (Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord)
Elizabeth chafes against the societal expectation that women will inevitably get married for money, and refuses to enter a loveless match. She’s shrewd and independent, both qualities that she shares with Isabel, who operates an estate independent of a male caretaker, a highly unusual endeavor for a woman during the early 19th Century. Isabel is a little bit farther ahead on the timeline than Elizabeth (Ten Ways… takes place in the 1820s, while the events of Pride and Prejudice occur somwhere between 1797-1815), but I still like to imagine these ladies meeting. It would be much better for Lydia to go live with the other women in Isabel’s home than to have to marry the heinous Mr. Wickham. (Seriously, is anyone else creeped out by the fact that she has to be stuck with that boor for life, rather than getting a second chance while he’s shunned from society on a desert island or something?)
Roland Deschain (The Dark Tower series) and the man (The Road)
Roland and the man (yes, that’s how McCarthy refers to him) both know what it’s like to live incredibly bleak lives while trying to survive and look out for the people they care about. Both are gruff and cautious by necessity, both have seen and done some stuff in the way of people living in post-apocalyptic worlds, and I see parallels between the man’s relationship with his son and Roland’s relationship with Jake Chambers. This also works well given the idea in The Dark Tower series that all worlds are real and connected. (“There are other worlds than these.”) Imagine an alternate version of The Road where Roland and his ka-tet encounter the man and the boy and band together with them! How differently things might have turned out…