Okay, so I know that I already posted today, but this sounded like too much fun to pass up. I mean, who wouldn't want to be one of our favorite characters, going on magical adventures and/or having all the hot vamps fall in love with us?
Then I started thinking about it. And I realized that actually, the majority of my favorite books are not worlds I'd want to live in. For instance: Tortall. I love Daine and the love story between her and Numair, but no way in hell do I want to have my entire family killed and then go to a kingdom where I'm constantly involved in their wars. So that kind of takes magically dangerous worlds out of the equation.
My next thought was historical novels, but this is just way too much of a cop-out. Sure, I'd love to be in a Jean Plaidy or Mary Renault novel, but that's as much about getting to meet Francis Drake/Alexander the Great as it is about the book itself. So none of those.
What I eventually settled on were the horse books of my childhood, like The Saddle Club. Lame, I know, but in spite of the lack of having to do with actual riding, I loved them. I never had any friends who rode (still don't for that matter), and the idea of a supportive group of friends who all loved horses was like heaven to me.
Still, in spite of my enduring love for The Saddle Club, I'm going to have to go for a much more solitary heroine. Not to mention a much lesser-known one.
Jinny is the heroine of Patricia Leitch's series (I don't think the series ever had a name, they're just all about Jinny Manders). Jinny was a tough, willful budding artist who lived in a big dilapidated house on the Scottish highlands with her wild Arabian horse. They're very different from the usual series about a girl who probably doesn't have enough money to buy a horse, but she luuurves them so she works real hard and finally at the end of the book gets a horse of her own! In the next book, she struggles to prove herself to the other riders. In the next book, her antagonist hates her because her horse is prettier... yadda yadda.
The Jinny series is different. Different from anything else I've ever read, actually. Jinny has so many flaws - she's stubborn, willful, and not very social, among other things. But she's so passionate about what she wants - whether it's art or a mistreated circus horse - that you want desperately for her to get it. There's no romance in this series - no, really, NONE - although there is her dad's young co-worker Ken who's sort of hippyish and wise and I always imagined as very sexy. Jinny doesn't really have any friends either - there are a few people that she interacts with, but you know without it being said that they're just not very important to her. Her family and the aforementioned Ken are the only people she really cares about. The series itself, in spite of being about a girl and her horse, deal with a lot of series social issues (no, black people don't come up, but gypsies and poverty and class do). A big overarching theme in the book is modernity trying to tame the wilderness, or box it up and put it in museums. But the way these things are dealt with isn't heavy-handed; I'm very sensitive to being browbeat with messages, but everything in these books is open-ended. Jinny is wild and untamable just like her mare, but there's frightening sides to the wildness too.
It probably seems a bit strange that I'd want to be an asexual loner 13-year-old, but that's the magic of writing. I admire Jinny's passion - I like to think that I have a bit of it myself for my writing, but Jinny was passionate about everything she did. I've never been that way at all. And the wild, slightly eerie feel of the Scottish Highlands is so beautifully written that I wish I could be there and see it as Jinny sees it, riding atop her still slightly wild Arab horse.
I love these books too much for any of this to be really coherent (sorry about that), so I leave you with the only excerpt I could find online (my books are all at home):
Jinny forced herself to go on painting as fast as she could. Nell had said that her customers liked the drawings of Shantih best, so Jinny painted Shantih--Shantih's head, Shantih grazing, Shantih galloping, and Shantih jumping. If a bit of her drawing didn't look quite right, Jinny smudged it over. She drew grass round Shantih's hooves so that she didn't have to waste time with difficult fetlocks and pasterns; she painted swirling manes and tails to cover up necks that were too long or hocks that bent in an odd way.
All the drawings were hopeless and Jinny knew it. Even the ones that looked all right weren't of Shantih. They could have been any chestnut Arab.