5. Holly Golightly
(Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote)
Whether you're watching Audrey Hepburn charm her way through life on-screen or reading Truman Capote's source novel, there's no denying that Miss Holiday Golightly is no average gal. Born Lula Mae Barnes in a backwood town in Texas, Holly is constantly reinventing herself, shaping her own destiny and cheerily hopping from romance to disaster to adventure. One could also interpret the character as a manic, selfish strumpet, but let's not be mean-spirited.
4. Marquis de Carabas
(Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)
I know, I know. I seem incapable of composing any sort of book list without including one of Neil Gaiman's creations. But seriously, read Neverwhere and try not to fall in love with the Marquis de Carabas, the protagonist's enigmatic guide to a fantastical London underworld. Paterson Joseph's portrayal of him in the BBC miniseries is pitch-perfect in its wicked playfulness. You might not trust the Marquis, but it is impossible not to like him.
3. Belle de Jour
(The Secret Adventures of a London Call Girl)
Technically, this one isn't fictional. But while the anonymous nature of her numerous explicit memoirs lend her an almost mythic quality, Belle is at her most beguiling when she drops her seductive facade and addresses the reader honestly. The ins and outs of her personal life are bared for all to see on the page, and though some (or most) readers may enjoy her adventures as mere titillation, there is a level of humour and intelligence in Belle's storytelling that make her genuinely likeable.
2. Tyrion Lannister
(A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin)
I have a confession to make. I have never been within a hundred miles of George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice & Fire novels. But Peter Dinklage's performance as "The Imp" in HBO's Game of Thrones has been so full of arrogance, sly wit and genuine emotion that I feel as if I know him well. Everyone in my house agrees that he is by far their favourite character in this sprawling epic of scheming villains, noble heroes and bare-chested everyone else.
1. Jackson Brodie
(Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News?, Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson)
The world-weary private investigator has now featured in four novels, each of which finds him dragged into a fateful web of interlocking yet seemingly unrelated mysteries. His quest in life, it seems, is finding people who are lost, a self-imposed mission which stems from the murder of his sister years before. Her killer was never found, a fact that haunts Jackson more potently than any ghost. He also seems to be a magnet for a series of disasters that become comical and Job-like in their frequency - a blown up house here, a train crash there. Atkinson's novels are full to the brim with wry humour, but at his core Jackson is a deeply troubled soul. Despite this, the reader cannot help but hope that in the next instalment, or the one after that, he will find peace.
Who is your favourite fictional character? I'm thinking about mining the wealths of JK Rowling's world in a future post and coming up with my Top 5 Harry Potter characters. Or maybe a themed post: Top 5 spies, witches, adventurers, lovers. Thoughts?