Book Week Scotland – which characters did staff at the main library helpdesk vote for

Posted on November 25, 2014 | in Library | by

Okay here goes………..

morningsidemaisie imageMaisie lives in Morningside and my girls when little, really liked the idea of this. We also had a soft toy of Maisie and they loved to take it along with them to….. Morningside!

My favourite character is, of course, Sherlock Holmes. Why, because he’s a genius, master of disguise, pugilist, swordsman, puzzle solver & he also wrote a treatise on how to identify different kinds of cigars from their ash!! His talents are limitless. But most of all because he has given me hours of pleasure reading about his crime solving abilities written by the good Dr. Watson, who runs a close second.

Like Margaret, I voted for Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle brilliantly drew Sherlock’s character very precisely, with only a handful of sparing details; and yet in doing so created a character whose worldwide resonance is unparalleled on *any* list.

Prentice Mchoan , a young thoughtful Scots history student, is the pivotal character in a tale that encompasses love, sex, death, mystery, class, identity and an exploding grandmother (in “the Crow Road” ). He is my favourite character; his journey of discovery about himself is the most intriguing for me.

Oor-wullieThis was quite a hard decision but as Christmas is coming I will have to choose Oor Wullie.
Christmas was not quite Christmas in our house without the Oor Wullie annual. Once the mayhem of Christmas day was over (presents, dinner, Top of the Pops and the obligatory throwing up after too much chocolate) it was time to curl up on the sofa and read the antics of Wullie and pals from cover to cover. Braw!

I liked the main character, Helen, in ‘Mo Said She Was Quirky’ by James Kelman. It is not an ordinary narrative, it’s a stream of consciousness inside Helen’s mind. She is an ordinary person with a boyfriend and small child, working as a croupier in a casino in London, not a ‘special’ or ‘interesting’ character – but despite her daily effort to scrape a living Kelman makes her a wise and compassionate person.

My favourite character is on the Scottish Book Trust’s voting list. I choose Robert Wingham/Gilmartin from James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.
I can’t say a lot about why I like him as it would actually give some of the story away. I love that you can’t grasp exactly what kind of character that he is, just as you think you know what he is, you then begin to think another and are never quite sure.
He forms a very important part of the story and helps make a really good book.

Gideon MackOne of the most interesting Scottish characters is Gideon Mack – a faithless minister from ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’ by James Robertson. The character of Gideon is very complex and vivid, created against the background of Scottish history, myth and legends. Gideon portrays a man from a strict family who questions his life, beliefs, ambitions and probably his sanity when he meets the Devil. His is a thought provoking and darkly humorous story which requires the readers to re-evaluate the nature of faith, the question of existence of God and the Devil and leaves the readers with as many questions as answers and their interpretation of what they read.

A very recent favourite character of mine is Janie Ryan from “Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma”, the debut novel from Kerry Hudson. The story follows Janie from the abject circumstances of her birth in Aberdeen to worldly- wise teenager via a childhood of constant flits from mangy B&B to barely habitable flat back to another seedy B&B. This sounds bleak, and it is, but Janie with dry humour and enormous resilience manages to see past her current circumstances to the possibilities of a different life. She is utterly admirable.

I choose Long John Silver. Robert Louis really knows how to write a character who should be a monster, considering the things he has done as a pirate (murder, marooning) but who manages to end up with the reader rooting for him to live and escape. I love the wee touches which tell you John is not a common villain, such as the fact that he has a bank account – which would have been a big deal for a lower class person in the late18/early 19 century. Also that John is so organised that he has his plans made well in advance, so that his wife is all packed up and off to meet him before it all goes pear shaped! He really stand the test of time.

Jack ParlabaneI also want to choose Jack Parlabane, from Christopher Brookmyre’s, novels – actually Scottish, clever, hilarious, disgusting, left field, lots of social commentary – one could not ask for more!

Firstly I’m voting for Katie Morag, the main character in the books by Mairi Hedderwick.

This is partly nostalgia as it reminds me of my children at a certain age, particularly  my eldest daughter who modelled herself on Katie.  Many an afternoon was spent with a cup of tea reading about Katie to my daughter and then, a few years later, listening (or pretending to) whilst she read to her younger sisters.  Katie was naughty and a bit wild but essentially a good, caring person and I was pleased to have her as a role model for my children.

Secondly I would like to vote for Jack Parlabane, the main character in Christopher Brookmyre’s books. Jack is not your typical hero and a lot of the time frustrated me. However he is very sharp, witty  and extremely political and does in the end make the ‘right’ choices even if they are not to his advantage. He is one of those people who doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’ but gets on with it which I admire and wish I could emulate!

Thirdly a fairly new character to me but one I really like is Roddy MacKenzie, the main character in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy. He is a complicated character who is drawn back to his roots against his wishes. The gradual understanding and acceptance of his past is very emotive and I felt drawn to him and the island he had tried to turn his back on. It was wonderful reading how his character changed, losing the anger and bitterness he had built up and, in some ways, found redemption. Actually I think he is my favourite character.


There’s still a few hours to vote for your favourite character. Go on, you know you want to..


Margaret Redpath & Rong Flynn, Main Library Helpdesk






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