Leading Ladies: A Few of My Favorite Literary Heroines
Books have always been one of my greatest joys and greatest sources of inspiration. Sometimes I read a book and the characters feel like mere acquaintances, but other times the books and their leading ladies have become treasured friends. I remember the first time I read Anne of Green Gables as a child and felt like Anne and I might have been bosom friends, walking along the Lake of Shining Waters. She is a bit of a romantic, filled with ideas and dreams, and I was too, and the friendship was easily found in the pages of the book.
Reading Jane Eyre as a teen was like discovering another life long friend, someone that I have admired my whole life. We could get into a whole discussion about how fiction isn't real, but ultimately, my experience of reading it is so heartfelt, that it becomes a sort of ephemeral friendship, something so very real to me.
This year for Mother's Day, we want to give inspiring books and other little bits and bobs that go with them. Shop the entire collection here, but take the time to read below to understand which book to give to the right person in your life. Each of these books have inspired my life in some way, small or monumental. We have picked several of our favorites, some of which you may be familiar with, nevertheless we want to introduce you to a few of our literary leading ladies and a few of their beautiful words. Are you ready?
"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches." -Gift from the Sea
Starting off with one that has become a recent favorite, and it isn't fiction. The book is called Gift from the Sea. This book is a collection of thoughts written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, authoress, wife and flying partner of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. She wrote this series of essays while on vacation in Florida while observing the little daily intricacies of life near the sea. She writes of patience and contentment. She writes of balance and beauty; motherhood and meaning. This book is perfect for a beach read for women and mothers. Give this book with some of our favorite seaside favorites like this straw shell purse or a beautiful framed art print like this one entitled At the Seaside or these shell posters. Or perhaps give it with this stunning pearl jewelry, a gift from the sea.
"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."-Persuasion
Sticking with our seaside theme our next book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. Anne Elliot, is an outstanding example of allowing time to change us into better people, without changing our fundamental character. This heartbreaking story is one of pride, love everlasting, and long years away at sea. This book is one that is always half hope and half agony. We love this beautiful clothbound edition paired with a Fan Comb or a set of Sailor's Knot Earrings, a bar of Pump Street chocolate, and a bath bomb.
"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." —Out of Africa
Our next book takes us to new horizons; Out of Africa. Written by a Danish author, Karen Blixen (often writing under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen) shares her autobiographical story of managing a coffee farm near Nairobi during the early part of the 20th century. As a fiercely independent woman, she relied on the many good people around her and the beauty and unpredictable nature of the African countryside. She shares both the beauty and the harshness of the land and the successes and failures of being a business owner. I am in the middle of this book right now, and so I don't know exactly how it ends, but I can already tell that we will be friends for years to come. Give this book with one of these stunning landscape scarves. I particularly like the scarf with alone tree, it reminds me of the Africa that she describes in the book. Such beauty.
"But I am so young! oh so young to leave my mother and my home and go out into the strange world to undertake a thing so great....How can I go to the great wars and lead armies? I a girl, and ignorant of such things, knowing nothing of arms, nor how to mount a horse, nor ride it...Yet if it is commanded..." —Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
I read this book almost five years ago now, but it still profoundly influences me. I think about it and the lessons I learned from Joan of Arc, at least once a week. Lessons of courage, faith, loyalty, bravery, and integrity. She felt called to do something that was unthinkable, and seemingly impossible. I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have ever read. Mark Twain, the king of satirical literature, wrote this profound and beautiful life story of Joan of Arc. While mocking many of the characters, Twain holds a reverence towards the young Joan, the Maid of Orleans. He said it was the best of all of his books, and that would be true. Told from the perspective of one of Joan's childhood friends, this book will make you laugh and cry. Read more about why we love this book so much here. Give this book with our Jeanne Jewelry, inspired by Jeanne d'Arc. Or something else that is very French.
"Now this Vizier had two daughters, the elder called Sheherazade and the younger Dunyazad, and the former had read many books and histories and chronicles of ancient kings and stories of people of old time; it is said indeed that she had collected a thousand books of chronicles of past peoples and bygone kings and poets. Moreover, she had read books of science and medicine; her memory was stored with verses and stories and folk-lore and the sayings of kings and sages, and she was wise, witty, prudent and well-bred”—Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights
Next we have another one of my favorite leading ladies: Shéhérazade. While the book is filled with exciting adventures, she is behind them all. She is the storyteller and dream weaver. In a noble attempt to keep others from death, she weaves stories for the king over the course of 1,001 nights. However, I love the description above. She was well-read and well-studied. She felt compassion and stories deeply. If you have never delved into the richness of these stories, I invite you to do it now. It's magic. These beautiful gold necklaces are just a glimpse into her deep beauty and each is named after one of her impressive qualities: loving, glowing, delicate, and enchanting.
"I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day." — Little Women
Louisa May Alcott wrote about the struggles and dreams of everyday life. I think we each see a bit of ourselves in one of the March sisters. There is something so captivating about this tale of four sisters, each with their own challenges and interests. Sometimes they disagree, but in the most crucial of moments, there is nothing that can truly tear them apart. I am particularly inspired by Jo March, while in many ways we are different, I love her passion for life, love, literature and knowledge. Our Jo Jewelry, with its bookish simplicity, is a great gift to pair with this book. Or perhaps a Bavarian cuckoo clock? I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there is a soft spot for Germany in Jo's heart.
“Sometimes she did not know what she feared, what she desired: whether she feared or desired what had been or what would be, and precisely what she desired, she did not know.”―
I go back and forth with this book. I love and I hate it. It's a book of moral dilemmas, unhappy families, terrific love and a large bit of the unknown. Give this to the person who wants the challenge of the unknown. However, I can say that I enjoyed the experience of reading it. It's beauty and characterizations are enchanting. Leo Tolstoy is truly a master of creating sentimental characters with great flaws. Give this book with our stunning Anna Medal Necklace; a little locket, perfect for holding secrets.