I recently wrote a blog piece about tortured heroes and was asked to name some of my favorites from books other than my own. I chose Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE, Christian, Duke of Jervaulx from Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, Darius Lindsay from Grace Burrowes’s DARIUS, Reggie Davenport from Mary Jo Putney’s THE RAKE, Lord Ian Mackenzie from Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF IAN MACKENZIE, and Holden Caulfield from THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.
I have created a number of wounded heroes (and a few heroines too) in my own books. Indeed the blog was written as a lead-in to the paperback publication of the first two books in my new seven-part series, The Survivors’ Club series, about six men and one woman who were variously wounded in the Napoleonic Wars and spent three years together on an estate in Cornwall recovering and rehabilitating so that they could continue with their lives. Why write so often about men and women who are wounded in body and/or tortured in spirit–especially in books that are love stories?
To a certain degree woundedness and brokenness of spirit are common to the human experience. We are all uplifted when we witness other people (or even ourselves) enduring the pain and rising above it, conquering it, bringing themselves to healing and wholeness, finding themselves capable of acts of kindness and heroism and love, not despite their suffering, but because of it. Think of real life people such as Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and all the heroes and heroines, often nameless, whom we see selflessly giving of themselves in the midst of great calamities and tragedies.
Such people are irresistible as the main characters of love stories, for love can help them find healing and peace, and healing and wholeness enable them to trust the love that is offered them and to give love in return. Great love stories are about more than just romance and sexual chemistry and happily-ever-after. They are about two people who are whole enough in themselves to take the great risk of loving their way through life, regardless of what the future may have in store for them.
What are your thoughts on the subject? And who are some of your favorite wounded fictional heroes? I will give away a paperback copy of THE PROPOSAL (the outer and inner, stepback covers are shown above) to one randomly chosen commentator on this post before the end of next Tuesday, May 21.