Library Moments: The Dominant Male

Catherine Coles, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Catherine Coles from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

pride and prejudiceWith all of the buzz around 50 Shades of Grey and its erotic read-alikes, it’s no surprise that “the dominant male” has become quite the literary trend as of late. However, after a bit of discussion, we have come to the conclusion that this isn’t merely the trend – the alpha male has been a figure in literature for centuries, represented in all genres. If you enjoy books that feature a love interest that is a bit moody, certainly over-protective, and usually quite wealthy – there is certainly no shortage! Here are some suggestions:

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian:  One of the most compelling examples of the “dominant male” for me is Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.   Darcy is depicted as cold and aloof, a man with a large sense of personal pride that frequently expresses itself as arrogance.  He is also fabulously rich.  He does nothing to endear himself to Elizabeth Bennett and makes it clear that he feels that she is beneath him in social stature.  Elizabeth is a sensible and intelligent woman in a sea of women that are predominately concerned with marrying well and how they look.   This is the quintessential love story with two people that are seemingly ill suited slowly establishing am unlikely romantic connection.

Catherine: Another classic featuring a domineering masculine type is, of course, Wuthering Heights. Here, set against a background of English moors in the 18th century, the lives of two families become intertwined through marriage, passion, and the dominating force of a man called Heathcliff. Heathcliff is not a nice guy. He is jealous and possessive of Catherine, with whom he is in love. The result is a very intense, passionate story – it is not for everyone, but Wuthering Heights has indeed stood the test of time.

Amanda Wilk, Public Services Librarian: If you’re looking for a supernatural take on the dominant male, check out Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, which tells the tale of a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript Ashmole 782, which draws them together. Intelligent, rich, and handsome Matthew Clairmont, the aforementioned vampire and Diana Bishop, a feisty scholar and powerful witch fall in love on their hunt for the allusive Ashmole 782, despite the fact that relationships between vampires and witches are banned. Matthew isn’t quite the vampire you might expect, as he works as a geneticists and has a rather longstanding hobby of collectinga discovery of witches university degrees. But he also displays more expected traits of vampirism including a lust for blood, and need to fiercely protect those under his care.

Bessie:  The Canadian read-a-like for Fifty Shades is Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard.  It is considered a read-alike because it originated as Twilight fan fiction as did Fifty Shades.  There are some similar plot lines but a key difference is that this book does not rely on graphic descriptions of sex keep the story going.  Gabriel Emerson is a brilliant and enigmatic professor of Dante studies at the University of Toronto.  His cold, aloof exterior masks dark secrets he successfully hides, though he has never overcome them. A lovely, intelligent graduate student in his seminar triggers a dim memory – one he cannot place, but which is key to the happiness he long thought was impossible.

Amanda: Young adult fiction also offers readers numerous dominant male archetypes, like the controlling Edward Cullen from Twilight, the character who actually inspired 50 Shades of Grey’s Christian Grey. But if you’re looking for a different take on a powerful man, I suggest reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a beautiful, fairytale-esque story about girl who lives among monsters, and doesn’t know the origin of her own existence, and an angel, who feels both the desire to kill this demon-dwelling human and protect her with his very life.

Catherine: Other books where you can find alpha male figures include Bared To You by Sylvia Day, which is another 50 Shades read-alike and The Host by Stephanie Meyer, which is a YA novel from the author of Twilight. If you are into mainstream American romance novels, Linda Howard is an author you may want to consider. Many of her books feature the not-so-elusive dominant male archetype.

Whether the alpha male makes your swoon, or find this character terribly offensive, we have novels to suit all tastes. This was Library Moments, thanks for tuning in here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

* Originally aired on Canoe FM from March 21th-March 27th

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