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Sunday, August 19, 2012

AUSTEN'S BAD GIRLS: an interview-based discussion

A couple of days ago, you saw the first in a series of "colorful" discussion interviews from various Austen authors** when we took on Austen's Bad Boys. I'm all about equal opportunity foolishness here at The Book Rat, so today we're giving the ladies a turn...

I asked:
Who would win in a catfight - Caroline Bingley, Lucy Steele, Augusta Elton, the Bertram sisters, or any other female Austen character?
Answers from:
Juliet Archer in red
Alyssa Goodnight in orange
Jenni James in green 
Susan Kaye in light blue
Laurie Viera Rigler in dark blue
Talia Vance in purple
and ME in pink 
Prepare yourselves for a another very...colorful conversation. ;P

*Please note, I've taken some minor liberties for the sake of flow... 

Me: Alright, ladies, today we're talking about the ladies...Well, ladies may be too kind a term for some of them, no matter what they claim. Austen characters are no strangers to manipulations and machinations, and there are a number of Austen ladies who could hold their own in a good back-and-forth. So, who's your money on? Who's coming out on top with her claws intact? I think the first one to pop into anyone's mind is Caroline Bingley - the woman is nothing but cattiness.
Susan: Caroline Bingley would tear you apart in a whispering campaign, but never deign to touch you. 
Jenni: Caroline is extremely cunning and sharp, even going out of her way to befriend Elizabeth at Netherfield so Darcy would notice her more...
Me: And she has the weight of society at her back. She's got money and influence to help make sure that no one will take her on, but that those who do will really be up against it...
Alyssa: Augusta Elton is the odds-on favorite, in my opinion. While the others are certainly catty and would likely accomplish a great deal in an underhanded grudge match, I get the feeling that Mrs. Elton would be willing to dig in her heels, get her hands dirty, and fight to the bitter end at the slightest provocation. I could see her willingly engaging in a spot of face-scratching at a dinner party or ball.
Me: Ha! I can kind of see that too, actually...
Susan Augusta Elton would bore you to death with her incessant prattle about Oak Grove and the Sucklings.
Me: True. But whatever gets the job done... You're right, I don't think she'd win the catfight. But I do think she'd do her best to lead everyone to believe she did... 
Jenni:  Augusta was just insanely over the top.  I would LOVE to see Augusta Elton and Caroline Bingley go head to head. *grins evilly* That would be tons of fun! 
Me: How about the Bertram's? I feel like people always forget about them and how viperous they could be...
Susan: The Bertram sisters are lightweights and can’t go the distance.
Jenni:  I['m not] too fond of the Bertram’s -- weak, prideful and vain. 
Me: I dunno...as a duo, I think they could do some damage. Tag-team style, you know? But setting them aside, what about Lucy? I think when push comes to shove, I think she's got it in her to play dirty and do whatever it takes... And don't forget, she has a sister too.
Jenni: Lucy Steele I found to be a very weak character and so I do not give her credence here...
Susan: Lucy Steele is a scrapper who grew up in Plymouth around sailors, my money’s on her in hand-to-hand confrontations. 
Talia: Lucy Steele. She has that passive-aggressive personality that you know is deadly when actually unleashed.
Juliet: Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Steele come pretty close to a real catfight in Sense & Sensibility. Hardly surprising, as they’re equally matched in terms of ruthless ambition and obsession with money. It’s Round 1 to Fanny, however, when she learns that penniless Lucy’s secret fiancĂ© is none other than her brother Edward; a terrible scene takes place, and she turns Lucy out of the house.
But Lucy has the last laugh. She promptly switches her affections to Fanny’s other brother Robert, once he’s become heir to the Ferrars fortune. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy persuades Robert to marry her and there’s every reason to believe that, in the years to come, she’ll win many a battle with Fanny.
So I’d back Lucy Steele in a catfight, every time.
Laurie: Lucy Steele, without a doubt. Don't be fooled by her lack of intellect; she's the shrewdest and most devious of all the female antagonists in the Austen canon. She'd scratch your eyes out and then offer you a hand-embroidered handkerchief to mop up the blood, all the while swearing undying friendship.
Jenni: However, I’m pretty positive none of these girls would stand a chance against Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Could you imagine them all shriveling and sniveling under her glare alone? Haha! So personally, she is my top choice for a villianista showdown. :) 
Me: Ahh, yes... She could be a true proficient... ;)

Many thanks to Juliet Archer  Alyssa Goodnight  Jenni James  Susan Kaye  Laurie Viera Rigler  and Talia Vance!!

** Are you an Austen author who wants to weigh in on the remaining discussion questions?  Check them out here and email me your answers!

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!


  1. For me, the ladies show-down was less fun. I guess because I know women who resemble all our contestants. And if I'm honest, there have been times in my life I've used their tactics. *don't hate me because I'm stupid*

    Also, if Lady C is going to be held up as an icon of feminine destructive power, Aunt Norris should get an honorable mention for being most likely to batter to bits the walls of your dignity, or something equally miserable.

  2. Oh yes, Susan, Aunt Norris is truly horrible! An underhand bully rather than a catfighter, but definitely worth an honorable mention. I love the way J.K. Rowling called the caretaker's mean cat Mrs Norris in Harry Potter.

  3. Ha ha! A true proficient, indeed! Lady C is definitely a contender, because she doesn't give a rat's derriere what anyone thinks of her. No thinly masked insults for her; she's just full-on nasty-pants.

  4. You guys forgot Mary Crawford. I think she would excel at eye-scratching, as well as the evil plotting. :-p

  5. Well done! I do think Lucy could take on Lady Catherine, her secret weapon being obsequiousness.

  6. OMG, Mary Crawford was on my original list, I don't know how she got left off.

  7. I guess we'd have to have a middle-aged/senior woman section of cats and a younger version of cats to do it justice. However, not wanting to take the time for this I'll just go with the flow. Mary Crawford or Lucy Steele for the reasons mentioned above. I think her not growing up in a genteel environment so to speak she'd be more than adequately prepared for verbal, physical, emotional damage.


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