perhaps what all the best fathers and father figures have in common is their universal striving to offer unconditional love and support to those in their care

I am aware that it’s been quite a while since I posted anything related to Cornwall and our lives here; I really must address it.  But not today.  Instead – yet another book-related list, which stems from a post by Brunching Bookworms featuring books and fathers.  I’ve already mentioned Dad very recently but he and I share a love of books and reading and as we moved into Father’s Day in the UK I couldn’t help musing on books featuring fantastic fathers, just as Katie has done.  Not all of my choices feature biological fathers, but each exemplifies some of the paternal qualities that perhaps we would all like to see in father figures.

In no particular order:

Mr March in Little Women.

As the eldest of four daughters, how could I not include this one?  Alcott’s father, Bronson, who is pictured above, was a rather more formidable figure than the kindly father portrayed in her book.  One day I think I shall read March by Geraldine Brooks which presents the fictional character in a somewhat different light to how I remember him from the original book.  For now, I’m content to remember him as a kindly family man.

Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.  Mr Bennet has even more daughters than my father or Mr March.  No wonder he prefers to retire to his study whenever he can!  But he intervenes when it counts and gives Lizzie the freedom to step away from convention.

(This book cover is by Coralie Bickford Smith and looks so beautiful.  I already have a lovely set of Austen’s books with covers by Coralie but my P & P is not this one.  What a shame!  Charles Dance portrays Mr Bennet here – taken from that well-known interpretation of the classic: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).  I confess to having seen this film.  I shall say no more.)

Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Shy, softly-spoken and sent by his more forthright sister to collect a boy to help on the farm, Matthew returns with the irrepressible Anne Shirley.  His affection for her is a quiet joy in these books; he is as loyal and as constant as any father.

Monsieur Leblanc in All the Light We Cannot See.

As Marie-Laure loses her sight, her father builds a replica model of her neighbourhood; he teaches her how to find her way about; he builds her intricate puzzles which require all her ingenuity to solve; he saves for months to buy her copies of books in braille.  He also ensures she has a stimulating education and a curiosity for the world.  He does not make life easy for her; his devotion to his daughter encompasses a much wider brief.

I can find no picture that matches the image I have in my head of Monsieur Leblanc.  Marie-Laure loves shells.  This drawing makes me think of the intricate and painstaking workmanship her father applied to the models he made.

Jack in The Snow Child

Jack learnt to let go of his disbelief and ultimately to let go of Faina, the mysterious child who enters the harsh, unforgiving life he chose with his wife, Mabel.  Wild and untamable, Faina becomes for a while the daughter they never had.  Jack respects her secrets and helps his wife to accept  Faina for what she is, rather than what Mabel wishes to make her become.

Again, there are no pictures of Jack, though I have a clear image of him my head.  So I’m including a simple, evocative image which embodies the harsh emptiness of Jack and Mabel’s fledgling homestead.

Joe Gargery in Great Expectations

This was the first example that came to me when I began pondering on fathers in books.  Joe is not Pip’s biological father of course, but his uncle by marriage.  An uneducated, kindly, honest blacksmith, Joe protects Pip whenever he can and is unconditional in his support as Pip seeks to better himself.  Joe’s love for Pip is unwavering even when he is humiliated by Pip’s grandiose embarrassment of his ignorance and awkwardness in company.

There can be no such thing as a perfect father.  But perhaps what all the best fathers and father figures have in common is their universal striving to offer unconditional love and support to those in their care.  Joe exemplifies this for me.

36 thoughts on “Fathers”

  1. The wonderful thing about a fictional parent is they can fill the void that reality leaves. And you picked some interesting father figures here, Sandra.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve picked three of my favourites, Sandra. Joe Gargery is a wonderful creation, so loving and caring even in the face of Pip’s temporary snobbishness. Mr Bennett is also wonderful, in his attempts to keep a lid on his wife’s more extreme characteristics and in his love for Lizzie. Matthew Cuthbert, though. His acceptance and championing of Anne Shirley made me fall in love with his kindness as a girl and it’s a relationship that is a rare example of a book making me cry.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am glad you love Matthew too, Jan; I thought he was a wonderful character. That said, if I had to chose one to be my real father I’d go for Mr Bennet (who is not at all like my real father). Mr Bennet without Mrs Bennet! 😃

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really appreciated the blend of birth fathers and father figures in your post. For those of us with less than ideal fathers, it is a chance to celebrate those men who stepped in the fill the void. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed, Elizabeth; it’s a sad fact of life that there are so many who have less than ideal – or entirely absent – parents. I was pleased when I realised that the characters who came to me immediately were so often father figures rather than biological fathers. Biology is no guarantee of adequate love and guidance.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a brilliant list of Dads! (We don’t celebrate Father’s Day in Romania, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting my own father – as if I could or would! )
    I’m also fond of Danny’s father in the Dahl’s Danny, the Champion of the World, and zany old Moominpapa (although it’s Moominmama who has to get him out of trouble).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you must. If you start reading in winter, then perhaps Moominland Midwinter is a good place to start, but it’s nice to read them chronologically as well and see how new friends appear etc.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Ah, lovely list! Matthew is my own favourite fictional father figure, and I wouldn’t have thought of Joe Gargery, but you’re right – he’s a wonderful “father” to Pip. Funnily enough, I don’t see Mr Bennet as a good father, although he improves after the Lydia affair. But I feel he just tries to ignore all his family responsibilities even though he knows Mrs Bennet is hopeless. And he’s so cruel to Margaret at the ball, when he tells her she has delighted them long enough. I think Lizzie’s uncle is a better father to her…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmm, I now have an excellent reason to re-read P & P! Mr B makes me smile in his sardonic attitude to his ghastly wife but I’d forgotten about the incident at the ball – and entirely forgotten about Lizzie’s uncle! Oh dear! So having been saying in the replies here that Mr B is perhaps my favourite, I may have to reconsider. 🤔 Thankfully Matthew and Joe are available to step in. I’ve been surprised at the affection for Matthew – and delighted 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I love Mr B as a character, but just wouldn’t rate him as a great dad. Matthew’s little speech about “That weren’t no boy. It was my girl – my girl that I’m proud of.” is guaranteed to have me reaching for the hankies… and when he went out to buy the material for the puffed sleeve frock… *gulps*

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Jane, I have yet to read Trollope but I’ll look out for Mr Harding when I finally get started. Elizabeth Goudge continues to elude me – I try but I can’t get into her books, and I’ve tried Green Dolphin Street. That said, I’m going to read The Little White Horse. Perhaps her children’s works will help me to appreciate her 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A lovely collection of fathers. My personal list would include two tear-jerkers: The Railway Childern and A Little Princess. Although the men themselves don’t appear that much, the reaction of their daughters says it all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gosh yes! I love both of those and neither came into my head. Maybe because the fathers are absent figures for much to each book? Thanks for the reminder, Helen 🙂

      (Isn’t it annoying that there’s no edit facility on comments: how often have I noticed the mistake in the second after hitting send…. )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I like that you picked not biological/adoptive fathers. And Matthew Cuthbert! That journey from the station back to Green Gables, when Anne was talking and talking and talking and then she suddenly asked if she should stop and Matthew realised he was enjoying her company.. I’ll never forget the warm feeling I had when I first read it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: