Apr 19 2011 5:00pm

Aurora vs. Sookie: Charlaine Harris’s Heroines

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine HarrisThey inhabit separate universes, live disparate lives, and are completely different people. Or are they?

As I was reading Charlaine Harris’s latest, A Bone to Pick (the second in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series, and the first one I’ve read), I kept noticing similarities between librarian/amateur sleuth Aurora Teagarden and waitress/amateur sleuth Sookie Stackhouse (heroine of the paranormal Sookie Stackhouse novels). I couldn’t resist comparing the two, and it didn’t take long to see that they have more in common than their mystery-solving abilities. (Page references are from A Bone to Pick; Sookie info has been gleaned from the entire series of Sookie Stackhouse novels.)

















Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisOf course, that’s not to say the two characters don’t have their differences. For example, Aurora has brown hair she keeps in a braid and Sookie is a blonde partial to ponytails. Also, Aurora sings but can’t dance, while Sookie can dance, but can’t sing. And while neither character is particularly quick on the uptake, Aurora at least has sense enough to mostly keep her mouth shut. Clearly, they’re miles apart. I don’t want to say that Charlaine Harris rates low on the creativity scale (okay, I kind of do want to say that) but when it comes to Aurora vs. Sookie the only real difference seems to be whether you prefer your heroine in the company of humans or vampires and shapeshifters.


Aspasia Bissas is the author of three blogs, including the all-vampire Blood Lines; was featured in Truly, Madly Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion; and is currently working on a vampire novel of her own. Although she’s occasionally been known to read minds, she has yet to solve any mysteries. Follow her on Twitter @bloodandpoppies.

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Charli Mac
1. CharliMac
My very good buddy sent me the Fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. The one with the infamous shower scene between Sookie and Eric. I am a HUGE fan of True Blood but had never read the books.

Let's just say, that in my humble unpublished opinion, HBO did a huge service to the words of Harris.

As I read the book I felt as if I were listening to a group of teenage girls babble on. The voice of Sookie really got under my skin. I couldn't get past page 5. I jumped ahead to said famous shower scene and still, even with Alexander Skarsgard as my muse, could not get past how uninterested I was.

Reading your chart gives me all the reason in the world not to read Aurora's tales. I'll wait for HBO on that too.
Donna Watson
2. Donna Watson
Tu-tut CharliMac, how could you possibly say that about my beloved Sookie ;) I do have to disagree with you. Charlaine Harris' writing style is such that it is an easy read. Her books aren't as salacious as HBO's True Blood but neither are they exactly as HBO portray them. Certain characters are killed off in the books but are gloriously alive in the series. Other characters are introduced to the series who do not appear in the books. It is for this very reason that I love both. I can watch the series, having read all the books, without the series being spoilt. Many people find Sookie annoying full-stop. I have read reviews that find her constant self- description of her clothes and hair really irritating. I personally love it, it all adds to the Sookie I love. And as for the shower scene, it was good, but is definitely better with Alexander as the muse :)
Natasha Carty
4. WickedLilPixie
I am with you Charli, I just finished an advanced copy of Dead Reckoning & HBO has done wonders with Mrs. Harris' writing.
Donna Watson
5. LSUReader
Interesting. I disagree with the assessment, but your observations are interesting. I’ve read most of Charlaine Harris’s books, including all the Aurora Teagarden (8 books,) Lily Bard (5,) and Harper Connelly (4) books, as well as the continuing Sookie Stackhouse series. Perhaps because I’ve read the characters as they developed over time, I disagree with many of the similarities you suggested. (I can’t disagree with the name thing!)

The Roe Teagarden books, which first saw publication in the early 90s, are cozy mysteries. The heroine is intelligent and very curious, and has normal relationships with folks, including her mother. As I recall, there is a very specific reason why she may appear to be fixated on marriage in the first few books, but that is not the case throughout—even when she gets married. Sookie Stackhouse (of the books) does not even see marriage as a plausible option for herself. I could name other character differences, but I find nowadays that many folks use the TV series, instead of the Harris books, to make observations about Sookie. Some people prefer one version to another and there are differences.

It is good to see the older series being rereleased. Perhaps UF/PNR readers will pick up these mysteries and find another genre to like…just as I did when I followed Harris from mystery to UF/PNR.
Donna Watson
6. bungluna
I have to disagree, as far as the TV show vs. the books go. I watched the first season, skimed over the second and just gave up after the bull ending. I continue to read the books because I love the world Ms. Harris has created. While I appreciate some of the changes made on tv, (Lafayette comes to mind,) others I detest.

I guess I don't notice so many similarities since I've read most of Ms. Harris' books as they were published over a long period of time.
Donna Watson
7. jharris22586
Charli--you're spot on. I enjoyed the TV series so I tried to give the books a chance. I really, really did. But I couldn't get over her writing style--I barely made it half-way through the first book. HBO truely did this series a service--personally, I think the books are horrible.
8. wsl0612
Regardless of whether you love the books or the tv show, you are making Ms. Harris wealthier and she probably will get over the criticisms ;-)
Elizabeth Bonney
9. Asperity
Late getting to this, but: one of the things I love about Harris's books is that her heroines all read for fun. Sure, it's an easy way to get readers to identify with the characters (we're spending our free time reading, too), but it's not something I see all that often, and it works for me.
Donna Watson
10. Aspasia
I meant to respond sooner (my bad). I think Charlaine Harris's work is one of those things you either love or hate (same goes for the show). I did enjoy a couple of the Sookie Stackhouse books but for the most part not so much. But hey, it takes all kinds, right? :)

I do have to stand by my assessment that book Sookie is fixated on marriage, though. Among other examples, one that stands out is in the second book where she's barely been dating Bill but she's already repeatedly commenting that he hasn't proposed. If someone doesn't see marriage as a realistic option you'd think they wouldn't mention it quite so much!
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