Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Name a Pet After

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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This week’s topic comes courtesy of Nushu @ Not a Prima Donna Girl who adds

These could be your own pets (present or future), you could pick 10 different animals and tell us the name and animal type, or you could choose 10 names that would make fun cat names, etc. Put your own spin on this one!

My problem is that, whilst I have had a number of pets – primarily cats and dogs but also rats, budgerigars, rabbits, guinea pigs and (if you can refer to them as pets) horses and donkeys – I am rubbish at naming them.

Honestly!

I was once gifted (by which I mean emotionally blackmailed into having them because otherwise they’d have been dumped in a wood) three kittens, who I did not name at all – I mean, they are cats and don’t respond to a name anyway – until I had to for the vets and named the ginger ones Ginger 1 and Ginger 2 and the tabby one I named Tabby! Our current cat is technically a Poppy (a rehomed cat, who arrived with the name) but after she had kittens has been re-named Mummy Cat. The father of said kittens, who still floats about and waits outside our backdoor for her, has been dubbed Daddy Cat.

To use literary characters’ names would be a massive step up!

Cat Names

So let us imagine I am seeking to name a cat because I am probably at heart a cat person. Cats are aloof outsiders, self contained and with the flimsiest veneer of domesticity over an inherently feral nature. There is something fae and other about cats.

Let’s consider what Shakespearean characters fit that vague description – avoiding Perdita even though I know at least three people who did name their cats Perdita.

Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, shortened to “Bea”

Beatrice is a wonderful character and very feline – I could definitely imagine her bringing dead mice to Benedick as gifts! Did she not promise to eat all that he killed in the recent wars?

Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, shortened to “Kat”

Such a problematic play! Hard to defend against accusations of misogyny in what appears to be its gaslighting of Kate and subjugation of the woman. And Kate is nowhere near as successfully created as Beatrice. One only hopes that she is double bluffing Petruchio and manages to turn the tables.

But the efforts that Petruchio needs to go to to domesticate her are very much like the efforts you need to tame a semi-feral cat.

And of course, she is a Kat!

Cleopatra from Anthony and Cleopatra, shortened to “Cleo”

The lithe beautiful grace of Cleopatra here is definitely feline! Seductive and tempting but very much on her own terms, and

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.

Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Strange how names for cats draws me to female characters but this is a male – flippant, light and airy, yet somehow earthy too. The changeability and protean nature of Puck is somehow feline.

A name to take care calling, however!


Looking outside Shakespeare, we might consider

Agnes – Agnes Shakespeare from Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet

Agnes is a delightfully untamed character in Hamnet – first seen at the edge of the forest with echoes of Rosalind and Beatrice and Cleopatra.

She is a gorgeous wonderful creation, mystical and mythic and vibrant – and, unlike Kate, wonderfully untamed: she flees to the forest to give birth alone to her first child!

Also, look at the cleverness of that segue from Shakespeare to other writers! I’ll clap myself if no one else will!

Vasilisa – Vasilisa Petrovna – from Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy, shortened to “Vasya”

Vasya is not a dissimilar character to Agnes: a magical spiritual girl who sees the spirits of the home and the hearth and the stables and the rivers, creatures from Russian pre-Christian myth in a Russia just beginning to form and to coalesce and adopt Christianity.

The trilogy’s tracing of her progress from outcast child to potent witch, an equal to the ancient gods Morozko and Medved and even Baba Yaga.

Like any cat, someone who cannot and should not be tamed.

Vin or Kelsier from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy

Prowls the streets at nighttime.

Leaps from building to building wreathed in mist and clothed in tattered mist cloak.

Capable to surviving on the street, on the battlefield and in high society.

Of all Sanderson’s various characters, both Vin and Kelsier are a delight and very feral and feline!

Arya – Arya Stark from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice

Another street child orphan girl from fantasy, Arya is perhaps the opposite of Vin: a high born child who is dropped into life on the streets, on the run, as an assassin rather than a street urchin trained to pass in society.

But no less ferocious or feral or feline for that.

Is there any wonder that she learns her skills by chasing cats??

Lyra – Lyra Belacqua / Silvertongue from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

Once again a runaway, independent feisty character – fantasy as a genre does seem to like these! – and a wonderful creation. As numerous people find out in the series, attempts to trap or to contain Lyra is likely to be as successful as an attempt to keep hold of a struggling cat!

Lisbeth – Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, shortened to “Lis”

Like a cat, Lisbeth’s loyalty can only be earned not bought. But once earned she is a powerful ally and capable of producing very powerful loyalty in others despite her standoffish defensive and damaged nature.

Any my goodness, Lisbeth has claws if you cross her – truly terrifying!

Gideon from Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth

Ah Gideon, all the grace and power of perhaps a panther (in skeletal face paint) rather than any domesticated cat. The fight scenes in this book are terrific! And I say this as someone who does not terribly enjoy fight scenes!

An inherent desire to belong to be loved, combined with a fear of that same intimacy – Gideon is a cat who has suffered trauma in spades, and yet is able to rise up and pity Harrow her persecutor, and to love her.

The scenes where unthinkingly she throws herself to Harrow’s defence – even as she professes to hate her and hope she dies – are wonderful!

Juliet – Juliet Armstrong from Kate Atkinson’s Transcription

A review for this is half written at the moment! But I loved it because of Juliet.

On the surface a mild mannered secretary caught up transcribing Fifth Columnist meetings in 1940s, Juliet is a wonderfully nuanced and layered character, such as Atkinson is so good at creating!

And a character with absolutely her own agenda kept hidden from everyone, even the reader, like a cat’s inscrutability.

Hattie – from Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl Woman Other

I just adored Hattie: in her nineties having survived nearly a century as a black woman farmer, accepting her great grand-daughter’s gender identity and letting the chaos of her more immediate family wash over her.

She is one of a wonderful cast of characters and you could happily name your pets after all or any of these women. I was tempted to go with Amma as the lynchpin but I did love Hattie so much!

Celia – Celian Bowen from Erin Morganstern’s The Night Circus

Whilst I was tempted by the pink haired Mirabel from Morganstern’s more recent novel The Starless Sea, Celia picked her to the post as one of the most bewitching (literally) characters, bound up in her father’s contest.

I really do need to read this novel again because it was so exquisite! Be prepared to see it again on December 1st’s TTT!

FORTHCOMING TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:

November 24: Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful for… Freebie
December 1: Books I Want to Read Again (This could mean books you plan on re-reading OR books you wish you could read again for the first time.)
December 8: Holiday/Seasonal Freebie (holiday books/covers/titles, wintry reads, snow on cover, cool color covers, takes place in cold settings, cozy scenes on cover, etc.)
December 15: Books On My Winter 2020-2021 TBR (or summer if you live in the southern hemisphere)
December 22: Books I Hope Santa Brings
December 29: Favorite Books of 2020

Many thanks for reading!

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