Welcome to the second Beauty & a Book post!
On May 1st, I introduced this special feature on my blog. Every Friday this month, I will continue to share posts from fellow bloggers & even a few authors focusing on the inner beauty of some of our favorite book characters. So stay tuned!
Here’s how it works: Pick either your favorite book, a book you’re currently reading, or any book really & write about what makes the main character beautiful. The best part is…this doesn’t have to be about physical beauty! Tell us about the characteristics this character possesses that makes them beautiful. Inner beauty is such a hot topic right now, especially for young females [males too!] & I want to show others that beauty comes in forms. We see it on magazine covers, on the big screen, and other various forms of media outlets, but we can also find it in the books that we read.
If you would like to join, please feel free to email me at hsheffdeld2011 at gmail dot com. I’d be thrilled to have you share your own B&aB post!
This week, Nicole is sharing her Beauty & a Book post. I am so excited to have her & thank her so much for helping me share the beauty & a book love!
When it comes to talking about beautiful characters, I knew I wanted to talk about a character who shone from the inside out –who might not have been literally beautiful, by our society’s definition, but made you admire her. Want to be her, in some way.
And there are so many. But my mind leapt straight for Puss-in-Boots, Mistress Mary, queen of the seas and the pirate with a thousand nicknames – Jacky Faber.
Jacky Faber is the star of the Bloody Jack series, a series with a small-but-devoted fandom that nobody outside of the fandom seems to talk about. It begins with Bloody Jack, where eleven-year-old Jacky poses as a boy to join the crew of the HMS Dolphin, a British Navy ship. One hell of an adventure later, the crew discovers that she’s a girl – but that doesn’t stop Jacky from perusing the life she wants, and the rest of the series follows her adventures as aspiring privateer, beloved pirate captain and overall kickass lady.
In some ways, Jacky does fit some of our modern society’s ideals of beauty. (Especially if you’re judging by the repackaged paperback covers of the books, featuring a beautiful blonde girl in various skimpy sailor outfits. I’m not a fan – the original, beautiful painted covers of each book fit the story and Jacky much better. But so be it.) She’s skinny but muscled, from years of on the streets of London and working on a sailor’s ship. She’s white. She has blonde hair.
But nobody would put her on the cover of Vogue. She’s short and once described herself as having a horse-like face. She has a tattoo of an anchor on her right thigh (a tattoo I firmly plan on replicating on my own skin one day). She has scars all over her body from cannons and swords, splinters and fights. (The area around one eye is peppered with blue burns from a ship battle.) She’s flat-chested and bony. And her hair – oh, it may be blonde, but it never stays clean for long, and if it is clean, it’s from having it cut and shaved off multiple times over the course of the books.
Conventional beauty is not what draws everybody – and I mean everybody, every fan I’ve ever talked to, every character in the books, everybody – to Jacky. She’s confident, entirely sure of who she is and what she wants. She makes mistakes and accepts them, and if she’s done somebody wrong, she tries to fix it. She’s loyal to her crew. She has goals, and she goes after those goals, but damn it all if the adventure along the way is a little distracting.
She’s one of the most brilliant characters I’ve ever read – unapologetic, fierce, loyal, and so, so confident – and I can’t help but think of her when I think of a beautiful character. She is beauty, because that is what beauty is, at least for me. Somebody confident in who and what they are.
And that’s a trend with many of the women Jacky comes into contact with through her adventures – Clarissa Howe, the snooty but self-assured heiress; Amy Trevelyne, her quiet best friend and aspiring journalist; the other pirate women she meets along the way, some from Ireland and some from China; and so, so many more. Jacky took the best from them, learned from them and used that to better herself; many did the same with her – learned from her self-confidence, her unapologetic behavior.
Perhaps that’s why she’s the first character I associate with beauty – because I learned to be confident from reading about her own confidence, no matter what her situation. And that’s beautiful.
Nicole Brinkley has short hair and a love of dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is the editor of YA Interrobang, a bookseller at Oblong Books and runs a YA-lit themed Tumblr. You can find her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr.