Inspiring women: Roseanne McNulty

This might make me a cheater, because this woman is a character written by a man. But, I do think Irish writers (thinking particularly of William Trevor, Colm Tóibín and Sebastian Barry) write women beautifully, with startling insight. In fact, when I find myself under-represented by portrayals of women on television and in magazines, I often find a grounded, complex, soft and mysterious character who embodies the sense I have of myself as a woman in the pages of a book.

If you haven't read The Secret Scripture, Roseanne McNulty is one of those characters who leaps off the page in her tragedy and loveliness. And although I have zilch in common with her, something about Barry's telling of her is so resonant, yet delicate, I find myself relating to her deeply.


And when I think of the characters created by Jane Austen too; their foibles and virtues, I wonder why 200 years later it's depictions of women as silly Carrie Bradshaws and Shopaholics that we mostly see today. Moreover, why so many women lap up those latter portrayals? It makes me feel conflicted about how I perceive and relate to my gender.

And I suppose this is all reminds me of why I started this series in the first place. It was about finding women for myself to admire not because they're just rich or beautiful or live charmed lives. It was about complexity and intelligence and softness and vulnerability. And it was about not feeling shitty about the other kind of portrayals, because they're not what I want to be like anyway.

I guess I need that reminder this week. Because it's perversely easy to be made to feel inferior by or jealous of something you don't much like or admire.
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