Nancy: Name That Character!

Later this week, I will finish the final pages of the first draft of Three Husbands and a Lover. While I will then walk away from it for a few to several weeks before starting on revisions, there is one change I already know I have to make: changing the name of the hero’s sister. Percival (Percy) Carlyle, Captain Lord Granville, is an earl with three younger sisters. The younger two are sixteen-year-old twins named Lily and Iris. The oldest is eighteen and is named Priscilla, Prissy for short.

You can see the problem. Percy and Prissy. As much as the sister just felt like a Prissy, as much as the name suited the character, even I started getting confused and typing one name when I meant the other. Now this character, who plays an important secondary role in this story and who might get a story of her own someday, needs a new name.

This oldest sister is chatty, bubbly, and hopelessly romantic. She is has fallen head over heels for her first earnest suitor, who doesn’t really deserve her affections. And she welcomes her brother’s new wife with open arms, thrilled to have an older sister to balance out the two younger ones. She is tallish for a woman, and has pale freckled skin and light reddish-blonde hair like her brother, and unlike her mother and sisters who are petite, dark-haired, and dark-eyed.

The two younger sisters are named after flowers, obviously. Flower names became very popular in the 19th century, and it wouldn’t be too big a stretch to imagine a family naming all their daughters after symbols of prettiness and sweetness. So, like her sisters, the character formerly known as Prissy will be named after a flower. I’ve narrowed down the list to the following three, with their meanings, and the pros and cons of each from my perspective.

Daisy – This name is associated innocence and purity. It is also signifies childbirth, motherhood, and new beginnings. I like the whimsy and optimism of this name, both of which fit the soon-to-be-named sister. But it might come off as too innocent to carry a full historical romance as its heroine, though. And there’s no real nickname for it.

Rose – This name symbolizes love and beauty, and is sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. It’s a pretty name, and the familial nickname could be Rosie. But it seems like the obvious choice for a girl’s flower name. Also, I feel like it belongs to a quiet and serious person. This sister has a serious side (sometimes), but not a quiet one.

Violet – Violet is associated with the color purple and symbolizes the future, imagination, and dreams. This character is a dreamer in the sense of being a hopeless romantic, and I like the short nickname Vi. But something about this dark, saturated color seems in conflict with the peaches-and-cream complected, strawberry-blonde girl.

Now I need your help. Do any of these names speak to you? Seem to match up with this brief description of the captain/earl’s younger sister? Sound like a good name for a future heroine?

9 thoughts on “Nancy: Name That Character!

  1. One of the most clever sister-names I’ve seen are April, May and June. The character (first person POV) had had the children 13 months apart, so while the names are playful and fun, there’s also that whiff of desperation from having so many tiny ones at once. It was from one of Elizabeth von Arnim’s books, and she was writing in the late 1800s. (So, contemporary for then.)

    May I suggest an alternate? Daffodil? Daffy or Dilly could be nicknames, and preserve some of the fun and noise of “Prissy”, I think. Daphne is also a plant. As is Dahlia. Although, I think of Dahlia and Daphne as being much more sophisticated.

    Of your three, though, Rose/Rosie works the best for me. Strawberry blonde, and Rosie can be a lot of fun (ring around the rosey). I agree that Rose is a bit serious, but so is Priscilla, for that matter. It’s the nickname that brings some levity to the party.

    Dazey-daze might be a good nickname for Daisy — longer than the original, but it implies something a little airy and fluffy.

    I can’t reconcile a Formerly-known-as-Priscilla with a Violet. But I’m sure, if that’s what you go with, it’ll work out fine!

    • I thought about Dahlia. I like that name, but something about it doesn’t quite work rhythmically for me. Daphne is better possibility, but I don’t think of it as a ‘flower name’, not sure if it would be obvious. Rose/Rosie is definitely in the running. Thanks for all the food (or flowers ;-)) for thought!

    • Yeah, Poppy was on my longer list, but while it’s not as close to Percy as Prissy, it’s still awfully close. In One Kiss from Ruin, I have siblings named Emme and Edward, but those are different enough to be less confusing. One of the younger sisters is named Lily, but I could always rename her and steal her moniker… Still need to cogitate on this. Ack!

  2. Of the names you picked, I’d go with Rose or Violet, because although Daisy might have been a common name back then, it feels contemporary to me. For some reason, when I knew you were going with the flower theme, I thought of “Tulip,” which is not usually thought of as a name in any time period. But it sounds a lot different than Lily and Iris.

    • I think Daisy is the one that works least for me, also as compared to the suggestions Micki and Jeanne made. Tulip makes me think of Tiny Tim, and now I have a Tiptoe Through the Tulips ear worm!

  3. Mmmm. My mother in law was named Lillian but called Lilly & her sister was Violet. You could have Viola. How about Marigold? Shortened to Marie/Mary? Marigold’s message is strong passion, courage. But also grief & jealousy. A desire for riches. Aster could be another or even Zinnia. Both flowers popular at that time.

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