Since today is my little sister’s birthday, I thought I’d tackle (well, broach) the topic of siblings in fiction today. A fun list of some of my favorite fictional siblings follows, but before I get there (feel free to skip ahead), I have some thoughts about the topic from a writer’s perspective.
I’ve written about a number of groups of siblings in my fantasy novels, and reflecting on that, the first thing that jumps to my mind is the richness of the sibling relationship. It is so, so versatile (as well as volatile). G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “The supreme adventure is being born,” for the simple reason that being born such a gamble. We can choose our friends. We can choose what to do with our lives, and where to live once we’re grown. But we cannot choose our families or the situation in which we pass our childhoods. And that simple truth has so much potential in fiction. It has the potential to tap our greatest longings, joys, sorrows, and fears. That is a beautiful, and a powerful, thing. Writers shouldn’t underestimate the emotional tug a sibling relationship can have on a reader (or on the sibling characters interacting).
Sibling relationships, in life as well as fiction, can run the gamut from genuine, nurturing friendships; to almost a parent-child relationship; to vicious rivalry, hatred, and competition; to everything in between. Oftentimes, they’re a combination of multiple dynamics in constant flux. And it’s wonderful. I’m blessed to be the middle child, born between two wonderful sisters, so I say I got the best of best worlds. I got to be pampered by (and learn from some teasing by) my older sister, as well as know the joy of spoiling my little sister.
So, here are my favorite fictional siblings, in no particular order. These families have entered my heart never, ever to leave it.
THE MARCH SISTERS, “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott. I love how Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy have such different relationships with one another. I love how writer and tomboy Jo is so different from her sisters, because that’s the case with me. And oh my gosh, who didn’t lose it reading that chapter when Beth…. you must read this book if you haven’t.
ALRIC AND ARISTA ESSENDON, “Theft of Swords,” Michael J. Sullivan. From the moment Arista hires a pair of rogues to kidnap her younger brother, heir to the throne of Melengar, you know these two have a unique relationship. Is she having him kidnapped for his own good, as she claims?
ELIZABETH AND JANE BENNETT, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen. The perfect and quintessential example of sisterly love. Jane and Lizzy’s selfless companionship and love for the other endear the reader to each. A beautiful picture of the kind of sister I aspire to be (and fail miserably to imitate each day).
NILES AND FRASIER CRANE, “Frasier.” Sure they’re on tv, not in a book. But Niles and Frasier’s competition and love-hate relationship makes for some wonderful laughs! A great example of the ebb and flow nature of sibling relationships…. Some episodes they get along great, others they are at each other’s throats.
THE WEASLEY TWINS, “Harry Potter,” J.K. Rowling. I love to laugh. Fred and George made me laugh with their daring, their courage, and their mischievous streak. Some of my favorite moments in the HP series involve the twins: who can forget their epic departure from Hogwarts and Dolores Umbridge?