Read Dates: Judith Claire Mitchell and Atticus Finch

This month our blog theme is ‘Love in All its Forms’ – we’re celebrating the diverse ways in which love is depicted in literature – so we asked our authors to tell us who their dream fictional date would be. First off, here’s Judith Claire Mitchell, who (with stunning timeliness, considering recent news) chose Atticus Finch, protagonist of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’…

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‘After much contemplation and a number of friends’ terrible suggestions—Ahab (“He could take you sailing”), Falstaff (“He’s a party animal”) and Humbert Humbert (okay, the person who suggested him was just being mean)—I have decided that I would like to go on a date with Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. A man who is principled, courageous, kind, modest, good with children, nice to oddball neighbors, gainfully employed, and a dead ringer for the young Gregory Peck. I mean, what’s not to like? He certainly beats Captain Ahab (who, now that I think about it, also looked an awful lot like Gregory Peck).

Of course, the problem with dating Atticus Finch is that he’s a humble fellow from a small town in rural Alabama during the Depression, a guy who would not be at ease at big parties or raucous bars. That rules out an evening at the Gatsby estate or the Hog’s Head. He probably wouldn’t like big cities, either, so no visits to fellow Southerner Holly Golightly’s New York. And while it occurred to me that what he really needs after losing his last trial is a good, relaxing massage, the only fictional spa I can think of is the one in the Las Vegas hotel in The Godfather where Moe Green gets shot in the eye. Not quite what I had in mind.

In the end, then, I think what we’ll do is enter the world of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. I imagine it’s only a short drive from Maycomb to the Alabama town of Whistle Stop, and I think Atticus will enjoy dining in the company of a diverse group of remarkably unpretentious and tolerant people—the lesbian owners, the African-American staff, the homeless customers. We’ll have a plate of the famous tomatoes, some barbecue, and some pecan pie, which, given that this is all fictional, will have zero calories, and, after some good conversation over coffee, we’ll get back to Maycomb only a little after dark. Atticus will say good night and go inside to put the kids to bed and maybe whisper a few aphorisms into their impressionable ears, and I’ll leave Alabama during the Depression and head back to Wisconsin in the twenty-first century to spend Valentine’s Day with my husband, who is a very tolerant person himself.’

Judith Claire Mitchell’s latest novel ‘A Reunion of Ghosts’ will be published on 26th March 2015.

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