The End

I’m slap-bang in the middle of a move from the UK to South Africa – in fact I may be on a plane this very second, faithful reader! – and as I tie up the many loose ends that have accumulated during my six years as an American ex-pat in London, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings.

10210I think the award for the original, super-dramatic, totally fulfilling happily-ever-after has to go to Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. After their wedding is halted and dark family secrets revealed, Jane flees Rochester’s house and spends many pages developing a lukewarm romance with St. John. It looks like a marriage of ambivalence is on the cards for them both when one night Jane is awakened by Rochester’s ghostly voice calling her back! She jumps in a coach and reunites with Rochester, who’s been badly injured in a fire. That fire also conveniently killed his very inconvenient first wife, so, it’s all good! He confesses his love in the way only a belligerent, tortured Victorian hero can, and the reader gets the pay-off they deserve after all those chapters.

9808866Fast-forward a couple hundred years to my next pick, which is Julie Miller’s Protecting Plain Jane. Now, I love romantic suspense, and I love category romance, but it’s a common problem that the tension in the development of the relationship is so much more intriguing than the inevitable happy ending that books end on a flat note. Protecting Plain Jane is a fantastic exception. The only thing standing between the traumatized, reclusive heroine and a ruthless serial killer is a big, sexy, shyly learning-disabled Kansas City SWAT cop. The author masterfully maintains the high-stakes pace right to the end, when the heroine is under attack and the hero is lying shot and potentially dead in a flooded road, and I practically ripped the pages I turned them so hard.

As if leaving my job, packing up my flat, and moving away from London wasn’t enough of an ending for me this summer, I also said goodbye to a book series of which I’ve been a loyal fan for nearly a decade – Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, the final installment of which – Dead Ever After – released in May.

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The finale to the series was hotly anticipated, particularly as the heroine had a range of suitors with whom she could potentially find a happily-ever-after, and as such it met with just as much controversy as you’d expect when you have a fanbase clamoring for ten different endings. I won’t spoil it for anyone still working their way through the books, but I thought the ending was perfect in that it was true to the heroine’s evolution and – as Harris herself asserted – it was what she’d had in mind since word one. I massively respected her insistence on sticking to her authorial integrity, and it made the 300-odd page goodbye a little easier to swallow.

As romance writers and readers we can usually rely on a happy ending, but have you ever read one that was so epically well written, sweepingly romantic, or such a heart-stopping near miss that it took the book to a whole new level?


Comments

The End — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: the end | Rebecca Crowley

  2. Creating an ending that ties up all the loose endings, satisfies the reader, and keeps you anticipating every last word until..THE END is a challenge. I’m excited to read Protecting Plain Jane. I’ve also been meaning to read the Sookie Stackhouse series, so thanks for reminding me to add them to my TBR list.

  3. I’ve heard it said that your opening will sell your book, but its ending will sell your next one. I totally agree with you about Jane Eyre’s ending. I was sure it was going to be one of those books where everybody dies in the end, but luckily for Jane, it had a happy ending. Except, of course, for the inconvenient first wife. At the moment my memory fails me to add more great endings to your list. I’ll probably think of something as soon as I end this comment!

    Best of luck in your massive move!

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