It’s been quiet on the blog for a while, but I have been prodded back into blogging by Lauren James, who posted a list of her book boyfriends recently. Alarmingly, it numbers no less than TEN. I’m not sure I’ve even read ten books that had boys in.
After an honestly gruelling period of self-examination (dear everyone: I’m sorry) I came up with a tentative top five. First, though: the ones who nearly made the cut.
Grantaire (Les Misérables, Victor Hugo) is an ugly, cynical drunk who believes in nothing except for Enjolras. Isn’t that… beautiful? Grantaire would not be a good boyfriend, but he’s clever and knows how to have a good time, I guess.
Ejlert Løvborg (Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen) is a complete disaster of a man and I’m kind of into it. Another alcoholic, but a wild, romantic, intellectual one. Who shoots himself in the groin, in a brothel.
I considered including Will Graham (Red Dragon, Thomas Harris) but my fondness for the damaged criminal profiler is based entirely on NBC’s excellent TV show rather than the books. I mean… Hugh Dancy.
When I made a list some years ago, it featured Henry DeTamble (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger), but now I can’t remember why; I think I was charmed by his offkey singing of Carmina Burana.
Finally, reading Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, I definitely had a little crush on Jonah Bay – there’s something about musicians. Long-haired, sensitive, mysterious folk musicians especially.
Okay, with no further ado, I bring you my top five, mostly terrible book boyfriends:
5. Nick Andros (The Stand, Stephen King)
Nick Andros is one of the good ones! He’s deaf and mute, but throughout The Stand is mostly defined by his badassery rather than his disability: as well as being intelligent, brave, and kind, he SURVIVES A TORNADO and spends most of the book WEARING AN EYEPATCH. And this all takes place in a post-apocalyptic America that is under imminent threat of great evil. Nick Andros is so much my kind of guy that I managed to spoil the book for one of my friends by mentioning something that happened to “my favourite character”. 100 pages in, Nick Andros was clearly my favourite character.
4. Remus Lupin (Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling)
Remus is a tricky one, because I identify with him so much. It’s a real “life goals or wife goals?” situation. (He’s a Pisces, of course.) In a series full of appealing characters, Remus is my favourite even when he is making terrible decisions and generally acting like a flawed human being. He’s witty and tragic and gentle and lonely and excellent boyfriend material, if you don’t mind a few scars and a lot of baggage. Also: a wonderful teacher. I could talk to you about Remus (and Remus/Sirius) forever. Don’t start me.
3. Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (Animorphs series, K.A. Applegate)
Okay… Ax is an alien blue centaur… But hear me out here. When I first read Animorphs as a preteen, I was totally into Tobias, the tragic Shakespeare-quoting orphan trapped in the body of a hawk. On my reread as a twenty-something, Ax was my surprise breakout fave. He is stubborn and proud, a cowardly slacker with serious identity issues, an utter nerd who loves daytime television and cinnamon buns, and he is AMAZING. All of the Andalite bandits are very dear to my heart, but Ax is the best. He gets all the funniest lines, he is every bit a delicate teenage boy as much as he is a deadly soldier, and he loves to eat. Animorphs is so important, and the Ax man is my idiot Andalite boyfriend.
2. Theon Greyjoy (A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin)
My tag for Theon used to be “stupid squid boyfriend”, so he obviously belongs here. Theon would be a really bad boyfriend. He makes extraordinarily bad choices in life. I love him like a terrible child. We meet him as a cocky so-and-so who’s good at smirking, sex, and archery, but he doesn’t come into his own until A Clash of Kings, where he is given a modicum of agency and basically destroys his entire life. Theon. THEON. THEON! His storyline is a dark but brilliant exploration of identity; he wants desperately to belong, and ends up someone else’s possession. He earns a place and a role, but it’s a dreadful one. He does terrible things, but oh how he pays for them. He’s not a popular character, but count me among the small but passionate Greyjoy fandom. Theon Greyjoy ruined my life!!!
1. Jonathan Strange (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke)
A large part of my trouble compiling this list was the fact that I initially yelled “JONATHAN STRANGE” and then refused to think about anything else for a few days, because Jonathan Strange. Jonathan Strange is a major babe. I just… I don’t have words. He is charming, obsessive, odd, clever, romantic, and ginger. I’m looking forward to the BBC adaptation, because I am ready to fangirl over Jonathan Strange the way everybody else has been sighing over Ross Poldark. Jonathan Strange is everything. The very moment he showed up in the novel, I was hopelessly enamoured. He’s unambiguously a catch in a way many of my other favourites aren’t. He’s a gentleman and a magician and a little bit funny looking! Be still, my heart!
What conclusions can we draw from these, my dubious choices? I seem to have a thing for sensitive, bookish substance abusers. And men enduring identity crises. Compiling this list has brought up a lot of ~feelings~ about my favourite characters, which is always a good way to live one’s life.