Fictional Friends (To Fill in for Ones I Had in Real Life?)

Books give us an opportunity to get to know characters better than we may know the people in our real lives. In a first person narrative, putting credibility aside, we get to hear a character’s full story in her voice; in a third person narrative, we’re often omniscient voyeurs, privy to the inner workings of every character in that make-believe universe.  We never get to know the people in our real lives quite that well (not that we would want to!), and once we do forge a close bond with others, it takes effort to keep friendships intact.  The wonders of the internet and social media can’t always overcome the damage caused by time-draining adult responsibilities and geographical distance.

December is the month during which many of us make an attempt to reconnect with others by giving people who once knew us better a peek at our lives through holiday cards with pictures of our kids crying on Santa’s lap.  Otherwise, there’s Facebook, a good way to stay lightly in touch with people.  A few months ago, the New York Times published an article on how it’s harder to maintain close personal relationships in your 30s, which certainly isn’t true for everyone, but has turned out to be the case for me.  I am focused on my loving family and fulfilling career, but sadly, there is little time to maintain, renew, and develop friendships.

It’s hard to fit in time to read, too, but when I do, I get to “meet” new fictional people entangled in compelling situations. Sometimes I don’t connect with the characters and would have no interest in grabbing a cup of tea with them.

Then there are others that I wish I knew better, beyond the bounds of the book, and Jae from Lit and Scribbles has given me the opportunity to think more about which characters from fantasy worlds (which I have interpreted to be any fictional world) I would want to spend time with.

When first presented with this creative exercise, I thought immediately of two fictional friends I met in my late childhood and early teens, back when I made B.F.F’s more easily: Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

I'm wondering what my own little redheads will think when they meet Anne
I’m wondering what my own little redheads will think when they meet Anne
  • Anne of Green Gables: In L.M. Montgomery’s century-old children’s series, we watched red-haired, freckled Anne grow up.  I was around her age when I read the first book, and I thought we would be kindred spirits engaged in (usually) friendly competition in the classroom; yeah, I was that annoying kid.  Anne is smart, independent, sensitive, and caring, all qualities I admire in my friends.  I would be curious to know what the adult Anne would think about today’s world, and I would be interested in inviting young Anne for a playdate with my own pair of redheads (and one brunette).  While Anne notes in the books that red hair was becoming fashionable in her time, I imagine she would be rather shocked by just how fashionable it is in North America right now.
  • Elizabeth Bennet: Obviously, I am a Jane Austen fan; even the title for this blog comes from an Austen novel (Northanger Abbey).  It’s remarkable that Austen’s novels have maintained their appeal for over two centuries, thanks in large part, in my humble opinion, to her relatable characters.  Elizabeth is intelligent, and, for her time, independent, refusing to rush into an economically advantageous marriage to someone she believes is wrong for her.  I’m sure many people would want to hang out with Elizabeth, as the numerous spinoffs suggest.  My favorite parody is a skit on That Mitchell and Webb Look (warning if you’re watching this around kids or at work—not that any of us would do that!—there is some strong language in it).

The next two choices entered my life when I was either in my late teens or already an adult with children of my own.

  •  Hermione Granger: This strong young woman from the Harry Potter books is the type of person I would have wanted in my law school study group.  I admire her intelligence, bravery, adherence to principle, cooperative nature, and fierce loyalty. She’s bookish, too, a quality I like to see in my friends.
  • Aervyn: This four-year-old boy wonder-witch from Debora Geary’s Modern Witch Series reminded me of my own children, who were four at the time I read the series.  He’s adorable and, if his mother or uncle came along to help out (you know, to keep his magic in check), he would be more than welcome to join us for a playdate.  I would particularly appreciate it if his mother would bring cookies.  I hear she’s a fabulous baker.

Finally, rather than choosing another book character, I want to end with characters from TV, a medium that gives us only 22-23 minute increments of time with our “friends,” excluding commercials, leaving a lot to the imagination in terms of understanding what they would be like at a dinner party.

  • Any of the Golden Girls: I started watching re-runs of the Golden Girls when I was in college because it played on one of the three channels on my TV.  It was a surprisingly funny show featuring older women who develop strong friendships with each other.  It’s fiction, I know, but it gives me hope that whatever is making it so difficult to maintain friendships now won’t necessarily be an impediment in my “golden years.”Fantasy Five

I can also think of five people (more than five, really) in my real life that I would like to hang out with sooner rather than later.  That would be a good New Year’s Resolution.

How about you?  What five characters from fictional universes would you like to hang out with?  Be sure to check out Jae’s post, too: My Fantasy Circle of Five.

circle of five


  1. I’ll throw in my own pop culture two cents. I feel I’d probably fit in best with the gang from The Big Bang Theory. I relate to bits and pieces of each of them sometimes more than I like to admit!

  2. I loved Anne of Green Gables when I was a kid, and all the Golden Girls when I was much, much older. I’d enjoy spending time with Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and I’d love to meet Jeeves from P G Wodehouse’s books – not sure that my etiquette is up to Jeeves standards though!

  3. Wonderful post! My mind is now going a mile a minute. I have to think about this. Do agree with you about The Golden Girls, by the way.

    1. Thank you! I can always count on Jae to come up with and/or spread interesting creative exercises that really get me thinking. I’m glad to hear that you agree on the Golden Girls! They would be fun!

  4. Great post, AMB; it gets one thinking for sure. One person I’d have on my list for sure is Hagar Currie Shipley from Margaret Laurence’s Stone Angel. She’d keep things “lively”!

  5. Interesting. I’ve fantasised about a dinner party of real-life people before, but fictional characters?
    1. Are comic book characters allowed? Then Bernard Briggs who would finish his shift down the mine, run to the track eating fish and chips on the way before beating an elite field of athletes over a mile.
    2. Conor Larkin, heroic freedom fighter of Leon Uris’s epic ‘Trinity’.
    3. Sebastian Dangerfield, the wild American studying law at Trinity College, Dublin in J.P. Donleavy’s ‘The Ginger Man’.
    Better add some female company.
    4. Unashamedly Tess Picot, my own creation.
    5. Another Tess, this time of Thomas Hardy’s classic ‘Tess of the d’Urbevilles’.
    6. To liven it up a bit, Shakespeare’s scheming ‘Lady Macbeth’.

    1. Comic book characters are allowed! I’m unfamiliar with comic books, but my sister is an aficionado and would probably include a couple of comic book characters on her list. It’s nice that you actually like your own protagonist–I’m not sure all authors can say that truthfully.

  6. Awesome! Yep, any fictional character from any world. I think I’d like to meet Hermione Granger too. But I love that you mentioned Golden Girls? Even Bee Arthur huh? 😉

    1. Ha ha- Most especially Bea Arthur’s “Dorothy”! She’s grounded, smart, and sarcastic, all good qualities in my book. I like Bea Arthur in general, from Maude to Femputer. Thanks again for tagging me! This was fun.

  7. Oh it is hard to maintain friendships as one gets older and makes a family. The friends I associate with currently are newer friends in the last four years. Often you do not even think about how friendships fade.

  8. Great post! And so true that you never get to know some real-life people as well as fictional characters. My 5: 1. Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 2. Claudia Kishi from Babysitter’s Club, 3. Jacob from Twilight (hello abs), 4. Sal from On the Road, 5. Hadley from The Paris Wife, in 20’s Paris specifically. Thanks for sparking this awesome imagination session today.

    1. I’m reading “A Tree Grow in Brooklyn” right now, for the first time (I don’t know how I missed this one in the past). Francie is a great character!

  9. What a great post! I’d definitely include Anne and Lizzy in my “fantasy five” too. Probably Hermione as well – how alike we are in our choices of “fictional friends.” I’d also have to pick Emily Starr from the “Emily of New Moon” trilogy (also L.M. Montgomery, and my childhood favorite – my peanut is named for the character). As for TV, people always laugh but I’ve long had a soft spot for Paris Geller from “Gilmore Girls” – I think I’d rather be friends with her than with Rory. Things come a little too easily to Rory; Paris is just as smart and witty, but also endearingly nerdy and awkward. Great question!

    1. Emily Starr! How could I have forgotten her?! I loved that series, too. I also like “Gilmore Girls.” Paris grew on me, and I think she and I could have been good friends.

  10. I have to mention one of the most poignant, loveable, 14 year old characters I’ve met recently in the pages of a novel – June Elbus, from Carol Rifka Brunt’s “Tell the Wolves I’m Home”… The rest of the Fantasy Five are old friends from novels I read and reread. Happy Holidays and thanks for this post – it’s such a pleasant thought!

  11. Daisy Werthan from Driving Miss Daisy would be someone I could have easily hung out with. She was from the south as I am. She lived during a very interesting period of time also. She once said to her butler that he was her only friend. I think I could have been her second friend!
    In all seriousness, I am afraid you are right about the friendship thing. It is hard to maintain friendship from a distance at times although I have tried very hard with very close friends. Unfortunately as I have got older, I do not have the energy to be the only one making the phone call to keep a friendship going. WE change also as we get older. I think I may need to blog on this issue. : ) Great Write-Up as usual..You make me think and that is good for the soul. I was actually thinking alot about friendship and touched upon it in this ( )
    NOTE second paragraph about “levels” of friendships.. Fictional Friendship can help us with our Nonfictional Friendships!! Alesia

    1. Thanks for sharing your post! There are many degrees of friendship, and I remain friendly with lots of people, but it’s not the same as it used to be. I do talk to my two closest friends from law school on the phone, but we all have children now, and we’re separated by hundreds of miles. Other close friends live in other parts of the world (particularly England) and Facebook seems to be the only connection now.

  12. I’ll have to think about that! I am such a voracious reader, finding five would be tough. I also loved Anne Shirley and Elizabeth Bennett. I might chose Keladry or Ali from Tamora Pierce’s books. Or Clary from The Mortal Instruments series if I was looking for a girlfriend who loved action. But I might pick someone more quiet and studious (like myself), perhaps Dr. Maud Bailey from A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

    1. Great choices! This is a fun exercise. It also had me thinking about the protagonists (non-villains) I wouldn’t want to hang out with, and I came up with way more than five!

  13. I certainly have many online friends (you’re one of the them!), and a very few of them have become real life friends in that we’ve met and continue to schedule get-togethers. I think social media is making it easier in some ways to meet people of like minds, people we wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to cross paths with.

    I have a handful of very close real life friends I make a point to see often. You simply can’t replace that kind of interaction with online connections.

    My life has never felt richer!

    1. Thanks! I’m very happy with the community of writers, readers, and photographers I’ve met through WordPress and elsewhere on the internet. I feel like my life is richer, too, but I do miss some of the people I used to hang out with in real life. They live all over the world now.

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