No, it’s not a new meme or a typo. Weezelle posted a fun and interesting rumination on which literary characters she’d sup with given half the chance and I thought I’d join in.
I often get carried away, believing characters are real enough to step from the page. I haven’t considered them turning up in a drinking establishment in town, though. Weezelle’s post got me thinking. Where would I be most likely to encounter my favourite literary characters that could cater to their wide ranging (imaginary) drinking habits?
I’m going with the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel in the former Free Trade Hall. You can, and I have, avail yourself of a straight classic cocktail, a standard short, an excellent wine or afternoon tea in this fine establishment. It’s a place of radical history, too, from being part of the site of mass slaughter in Manchester’s fight for the popular vote, to a building celebrating the repeal of the Corn Laws, to a site of music history ranging from Dylan being called Judas and the Sex Pistols giving a boost to Manchester’s punk scene to being the first long term home for the Hallé orchestra.
And who am I hoping to bump into as I prop up the bar?
1. Katey Kontent from Rules of Civility
I’d love to hang out with Katey and try to get under her Bright Young Thing/Carrie Bradshaw exterior. She’s a go-getter who works her way up from obscure origins to being a darling of the publishing world. Katey likes a gin Martini, but I hate gin. If we’re having Martinis, make mine with vodka. Given the book’s setting, though, I’d likely order Manhattans. I like mine dry, with a Canadian rye, but I’m betting Katey takes hers perfect.
2. Christabel Lamotte from Possession
Oh, Christabel. What a life you lead, trapped in the strictures of Victorian society, pressured by a sturdy male poet into a love affair you’re not invested in. We’d unravel everything that’s wrong with the ongoing privileging of masculinity over a fruity/cakey Lowland whisky like a Glenkinchie.
3. Emma Woodhouse from, well, Emma
Emma is utterly real to me. I love others of Jane Austen’s creations, but Emma is the one who feels like she might actually exist and not just act as a representation of Regency womanhood. She’s awful, meddling, full of herself, but brilliant at the same time. I feel sure that she’d hook me in on one of her schemes to improve the existence of some acquaintance or other over one of the Radisson’s exceptional afternoon teas. I doubt there is the sort of fine Congou tea on the menu that Emma would recognise, but perhaps a Breakfast Blend wouldn’t be too wide of the mark.
4. Malta Kano from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle
I’d like to find out more about Malta Kano. Everyone talks about her sister Creta, whereas Malta is more intriguing to me. I’d have to try not to get into an argument with her about spiritualism and mediumship, but we could talk about cats. Mainly, though, I’d like to get her take on being an older sister. I’ve got an older sister and it often seems to me that she’s from another planet. Malta has a protective and also directorial view of her younger sister. I’d dig a bit into why she can’t let Creta be who she needs to be on her own terms. Things might get a little tetchy. Malta wears a red vinyl hat, which makes me think she’d enjoy something like a Campari and soda.
5. Nora Eldridge from The Woman Upstairs
I might open proceedings with Nora by asking, “How angry are you now, Nora?” Because Nora is one of the angriest women I’ve encountered in literature, and I’d like to find out how she’s doing. Plus, I’m also an angry woman, and it might do us both good to chew down on some of the injustices in the world. We’d need something to counter the anger, though, so I’d order up a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Champagne makes me a happy drunk, and I feel like Nora needs some frivolous bubbles in her life to help her to laugh a little more at the things that make her angry. We all need some bubbles in our life.
6. Jan O’Deigh from The Goldbug Variations
Jan is almost a parallel existence version of me. Okay, she’s a librarian while I’m an archivist. She works in a public library in Brooklyn while I work in a museum in Manchester. But we share a fascination with the story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, and we have a habit of falling hard for men who are slightly unreachable, and most of all we delight in the thrill of the chase and the opportunity to use our research skills and information expertise to dig up buried histories. Jan is the character I’d most treat like an everyday person. There would be no reference to the book she comes from. We’d simply become friends, talking about what has recently engaged our brains. We could drink anything, but I’ll settle on the clean crisp deliciousness of my favourite drink – vodka and coke.
What about you? Have you ever daydreamed about hanging out with characters from books you’ve loved? Who would you most like to bump into in a bar and what do you think they’d drink?