While debating literature's greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation--her whole life, she's been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of "Wuthering Heights" when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre. With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies--the characters and the writers--whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.