Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In Defense of Happy Endings

"As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes an ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself."- Elizabeth Goudge
Dust baths in the sunshine.
In this post, I mentioned that I loved Agnes Grey so much because there wasn't extreme hysteria and unnecessary unhappiness.  You see, I am a happy-endings reader.  Call me shallow and unwilling to face the brutality of life, my one requirement of a book is that it have some sort of redemption and loose-ends tied up by the end.  So here's why I read books with happy endings and my requirements for a book:
Tom Kitten (named for the Beatrix Potter character)

1.  I read fiction for escape.  If I want to read about something terrible that ended terribly or had no resolution, I will pick up a newspaper.  For me, fiction is a happy place where one can travel to all sorts of places and never leave home, where improbable things sometimes happen, and the antagonists get their just deserts.

2.  The fiction I read doesn't have to be all happiness all the time.  In fact, that would be monotonous very quickly.  Dickens is a perfect example of my favorite kind of reading.  There are some pretty bad situations, but our hero/heroine always ends up with some kind of happy resolution.  So, you say, why doesn't Wuthering Heights make the cut?

3.  I don't like unhappiness simply for the sake of unhappiness.  Wuthering Heights does, in fact, have some small resolution at the end of it, but the rest of the book is about being miserable (loosely speaking).  That's my beef with Tolstoy. Anna Karenina is just 1000 (or whatever it is) pages of desperate unhappiness with a desperately unhappy ending.  If unhappiness contributes in some way to another plot, then I am happy to read about.  But a plot about unhappiness?  Sigh.
I can't get over the lovely crocuses in the front garden.

I have had thoughts going around my head all week about this topic, but couldn't quite figure out how to get them onto paper.  I hope everything I wrote here was clear.  I'd love to hear what any of my readers think about this and what kind of reading they like!  I'll close with another quote about happy endings.
Hordes of Canadian geese flocked to our pond.  I caught a glimpse
of them on camera Sunday afternoon.
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.”- Neil Gaiman

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