National Novel Writing Month is nearly over. How far did you get with your masterpiece?
From passionate wordsmiths, to tortured artists, writers are a fascinating bunch. To mark the extraordinary creativity and motivation of writers this month, we’ve put together a list of brilliant books featuring characters who are writers.
Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Before becoming an international best-seller and hit film, The Help was rejected by 60 literary agents, a powerful reminder that becoming a writer takes perseverance as much as talent. The Help tells the story of African-American maids in Mississippi in the 1960s. Skeeter wants to become a writer, despite her parent’s protestations. Refusing to walk away from her passion, and outraged at how badly maids in her neighbourhood are being treated by their white employers, Skeeter’s pen becomes her sword.
Little Women by Louise May Alcott
The timeless classic, Little Women follows four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March as they journey from childhood to womanhood. The main character, Jo March, is one of literature’s best drawn characters and a passionate writer. An outspoken tomboy, Jo broke the mould for how women were expected to behave at the time. Headstrong and rebellious, Jo is complex, flawed and compelling.
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The Shining by Stephen King
The Shining is the book that established writer, Stephen King as a major force in the horror genre in the seventies. A disturbing example of suffering for your art, the novel follows Jack Torrance, a writer of vast ambition but dogged by alcoholism. When he gets a job as a caretaker in a hotel, Jack moves his family to the remote Colorado Rockies. But the isolation and the hotel’s horrific past gets to Jack, who soon loses his sanity. Jack Torrance reveals the dark side of the creative mind in this thrilling novel.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Widely regarded as one of Ian McEwan’s best works, Atonement made huge waves when it was published in 2001. Spanning three time periods, from pre-World War Two England to the present day, the novel follows Briony Tallis, a young girl with a passion for writing. When Briony witnesses her sister, Cecilia in a clinch with an old family friend, Robbie, she misconstrues the situation, an action which has far reaching consequences. Atonement is incredibly powerful for Briony’s determined hope that, in her writing at least, she can give her sister and Robbie, the life and love she denied them as a child.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante captures the nuances and complications of female friendship like no other living writer. With her series, the Neapolitan novels, Ferrante details the lives of Elena Greco and her best friend Lila. While Elena, who narrates the novels, excels academically, ultimately becoming a revered novelist across Italy, Lila’s life takes a very different path. Elena is a fascinating character, who struggles with being her own woman and making art, while trying to distance herself from the violent, mob-ruled area of Naples she grew up in.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Vida Winter has spent her life running from her past. A famous novelist in England, she has managed to keep her private life private and her past buried, despite numerous journalists’ attempts to uncover the truth. Realising her health is failing, Vida enlists a biographer to tell her story. Vida is a fascinating character for her resilience and lifelong battle against the weight of her family secrets.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Overwhelmed by grief at losing his son in a violent shooting, travel writer Macon Leary watches his world crumble around him. With his marriage disintegrating, and incapacitated by an accident involving his dog and a home invention, Leary returns to his family home. Eventually finding love again in an unusual young woman, Muriel, Leary is eventually forced to choose between his past and his future. Macon is a brilliant character with plenty of humanity as he struggles with grief, love and finding himself.