Reading lists

Samantha Ellis on literary heroines

Samantha Ellis, author of How to be a Heroine, talks us through some of her favourites, from Anne of Green Gables to Lizzy Bennet

When I felt like I wanted to change, I used to read about the good-girl heroines of Victorian novels, but as Jane Austen rightly said, ‘Pictures of perfection…make me sick and wicked’, and now, if I try reading What Katy DidLittle Women or (aarghh) Pollyanna, I’m liable to get so mutinous that I throw down the books, drink all the whisky, put on my best dress and go rampaging. But here are some heroines I still reach for when I need inspiration.

Rachel Samstat, from Nora Ephron’s Heartburn

In the kitchen, the best heroine of all is Rachel, not just because Ephron’s book is full of excellent recipes but because her key lime pie is the best thing to throw at your philandering husband. I don’t have a philandering husband but I like to be prepared. And in the meantime I can eat the pie.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more