Happy Endings

In my teenage years I loved reading books with happy endings. Maybe it was all that teenage angst bottled up inside, maybe it was the dream of finding love one day, or maybe I was just conditioned that way. Possibly it was because I used to raid my parents’ book collections. They are a lot more discerning these days but back then it was mum’s historical romance novels versus dad’s action packed Wilbur Smith books. As different as these genres were they all had happy endings.

But what is a happy ending? The girl getting the boy? The hero saving the world? Stop any story at a certain point and you are bound to get a happy ending. But what happens after the happy ending? Do the girl and boy go on to live a perfect life? Does the hero retire to a life of normality quite happily? Or does the couple split up once kids come along? And does the hero suffer post-traumatic stress disorder? Do I really want to read those stories?

I have since read a lot of books without happy endings. Books where the hero dies in the end. Or the girl leaves it too long to realise she loves the boy and he finds someone else. These books are usually of the literary type and leave you feeling sad, depressed, angry, irritable etc. Don’t get me wrong, they make great works of art and make me feel like I really read something worth reading. But I can only take so many of these books in a row.

Sometimes I like reading predictable books. I like knowing that after many misunderstandings and missed opportunities the girl will eventually end up with the boy. Or I like reading a book where after a serial killer kills a few people the detective finally tracks them down and they get their comeuppance. In books we can get the nice clean endings we so often don’t get in real life.

Some people ridicule the happy ending in books believing they are a lower form of storytelling. But I don’t. Happy endings will always have a place in my reading repertoire.

And this blogger lived happily ever after …

Do you like reading books with happy endings?

5 thoughts on “Happy Endings

  1. northmum August 26, 2013 / 5:29 pm

    Yes, I love a happy ending and feel cross when people (usually in my book group!) dismiss those stories as poorer quality. I particularly enjoy happy endings I wasn’t expecting – some books I’ve read by Jonathan Coe and Wilkie Collins are good examples of those.

    I know what you mean about the experience of a great read, despite the ending, but I do generally like things to be neat and tidy which is why, I think, a “happy” ending makes me feel satisfied.

    Have you ever read “Being Elizabeth Bennet” by Emma Campbell Webster? That’s a book which deals quite cleverly with the idea of what a happy ending means, at least for the Regency heroine. It’s told in the “choose your own adventure” style with points to add up – your aim is to marry well, but not at the expense of love, and some of the observations as to whether that has been achieved are very interesting.


    • janereads August 26, 2013 / 5:42 pm

      That book sounds interesting. I will have to look it up.


  2. booksonthetube August 26, 2013 / 6:38 pm

    I can be happy with either kind of ending as long as it makes sense. I hate it when everything is set up for disaster but then all of a sudden everything gets neatly wrapped up and everyone goes home happy. I like a realistic ending and if it’s happy then that’s just a bonus!


  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out August 27, 2013 / 2:39 pm

    I like a resolution and if it is happy, all the better!


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