Take Two Characters. Mollie Walton Chooses Two of Her Favourite Fictional People

Posted on 5th July, 2019

I am delighted to welcome Mollie Walton to my blog to take part in the Take Two Characters series. Mollie is a debut saga author and her novel,The Daughters of Ironbridge, is the first book in a trilogy centred around the world of the iron industry.

Take Two Characters – by Mollie Walton


I’m thrilled to be appearing on Susanna’s blog today and with such an interesting subject to talk about. Characters, for me, are the most important thing in literature. I can read the most ingenious plot devices but if the characters don’t feel real, I don’t give a damn what happens to them. The characters I like best are those who are given space on the page to show themselves in all their variety, with their successes and failures given equal importance. Only then can we appreciate them as people, fascinated by their strengths and their flaws.



My character I’d like to discuss is Anny Woodvine, from my novel The Daughters of Ironbridge, the first book in The Ironbridge Saga. The novel is set in the 1830s in the heart of the industrial revolution in Shropshire. When we first meet Anny she is twelve years old, helping her mother with the washing work at home, then rushing off to take her father’s lunch to him at the ironworks. Anny has learnt to read and write – an unusual skill for someone of her class at that time – and she is bright and sparky with it. She has red hair and freckles, which she despises, but she admires her feet, which she thinks are slender. When she falls in love, she falls hard and gives her heart completely. She is optimistic and has much ambition to improve her lot in life.



What I like best about Anny is that she is not obsessed with her looks or even her class. She isn’t ashamed of her origins; rather she wants things to be better for everyone. She actually just wants the world to be a better place. She is also strong in the face of adversity, even though she doesn’t believe herself to be strong. As ever with saga, she is put through the mill and has many hard times ahead. I admire her strength but I also understand her bitterness about what she’s been through. She’s not an angel or a devil; she’s somewhere in-between and I think in life most of us are negotiating that middling place between our best and worst selves.

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The other character I want to talk about is Clary Cazalet, from the set of 5 novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard commonly known as The Cazalet Chronicles. I read these 5 novels back to back over one summer a few years ago and I was completely addicted.


They tell the story of a family from just before WW2 and then well into the 1950s, as the children from the first book have grown up and had children of their own. It’s a masterful piece of writing, one of the best writers I have ever read. The characters feel so real to me, that when I think of them, they seem to be people that I knew well once but have since lost touch with.


When we first meet Clary she is a child, an awkward child who is left about by her cousins and is a bit of a loner. Her mother has died and her lovely father has remarried to a spoilt, younger woman, who Clary initially hates. Clary loves to read and write, later becoming an author.


What I love about Clary is that she is completely herself. She never tries to alter her character or appearance to fit in with other people’s expectations. She has a deep belief in herself, even though she doesn’t really realise this and that stops her from being arrogant. She is an outsider and I identify strongly with that. I often felt that growing up and I’ve met quite a few other writers who feel the same way. Perhaps there’s something about being a writer that necessitates being on the outside looking in. It’s about having the time and space to observe the action, rather than necessarily being the centre of it. There are plenty of examples of extrovert authors, don’t get me wrong. And also, Clary may be an outsider, but she’s certainly not backwards in coming forwards. She’s delightfully gobby! She’ll give her opinion on almost any subject, whether she’s asked for it or not. And she is brilliant in arguments. Despite all her faults, or maybe because of them, I believe she is the heart of the Cazalet novels and a wonderful creation.


So, those are my two characters. I think I chose them because – despite their differing stations in life – both of these young women are true to themselves, they suffer and yet they prevail. And neither of them are perfect.


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The Daughters of Ironbridge is available on Kindle, in paperback, on Audible and as a CD audiobook.



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Comments (3)

Hi Louise. Mollie here! This trilogy will take place over several decades. Book 2 begins around 20 years after Book 1 & the plan for Book 3 is a similar gap. There will be some characters who appear in all 3 books, but I can't really say who at the moment! I'm writing Book 2 now & it'll be out next April. Thanks so much for reading xx
Hi, Louise. Two very good questions! I'm sure Mollie will be delighted to answer them for you.
I am reading "The Daughters of Ironbridge" at the moment! I haven't got very far into it but I do like Anny. She is bright and clever and caring. Here is a question for Mollie Walton: Will the whole trilogy be about Anny as she grows up and her life changes or will it move on to other characters? Or aren't you allowed to say? Also, when will book 2 come out?