Sometimes our authors will post questions on Facebook asking fans to help them name a particular character. These are really fun discussions to follow, and they always make me wonder: what’s in a name? Not in the way Shakespeare meant it, but how does the sound and meaning of a name fit a character?
Parents might have many reasons to pass on a name to a newborn—acknowledging a tradition or national heritage, honoring someone special, or simply liking the sound of a name.
Authors, though, know their characters’ personalities before ever naming them, something hard to determine in a hospital with a screaming infant. I decided to take a look at the names of the leading ladies in our April releases and see how they fit the characters.
All of the meanings and spiritual connotations were taken from The Name Book.
A Beauty So Rare
Meaning: “Bright as the Sun”
Spiritual Connotation: “Kindhearted”
Eleanor certainly brought hope to those around her through her kind heart, but even more significant was the pressure her family name that she felt throughout the story. Because of her relationship with her wealthy aunt Adelicia Acklen, there were certain rules and expectations she felt she must live up to. (Also, growing up, she also wished she was named Francesca because it sounded “elegant and adventuresome.”)
Although “gracious” isn’t the first word I’d choose to describe Anne (try “determined” or “fearless”), mercy was certainly an area where she grew throughout the story. More importantly, though, I love the simplicity of the name Anne Tillerton, especially in contrast to the ostentatious society lady Ophelia Stanford, another character in the book. It fits her well.
Hadassah Benjamin/Stella Muller
Meaning (both names): “Star”
Spiritual Connotation: Significance
More important than the meaning of Hadassah’s name is its origin: it is very obviously a Jewish name. To protect herself from the horrors of Nazi occupation, she was forced to go by Stella and cover up her true heritage, much like the original Haddassah, who we recognize by her Persian name: Queen Esther.
The topic of names—first and last—are significant in The Last Bride. As you may have noticed, there isn’t a wide variety of last names in Amish communities. Intermarrying within a small group of people can sometimes lead to genetic problems, a subject The Last Bride deals with. And near the end of the book, Tessie discovers something about her first name that means a lot to her (but, of course, I won’t give that away).
It’s ironic that Martha “Marty” Wythe has a name meaning “lady,” since most of the wealthy women of Denver would look down on her as decidedly unlady-like. Even so, throughout the book she lives up to her name in the truest sense of the word: caring about others and giving generously of her time and talents to those around her.
What does your name mean? (If you don’t know, try a website like babynames.com.) Why did you give your son or daughter the name you did?