Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Meg Waite Clayton | In Defense of Happy Endings
Uncategorized / April 29, 2008

Happiness is boring,” and “Riding off into the sunset is not true,” insisted a Noted Author at a symposium I attended earlier this month on the proposition that happiness simply cannot make good literature. And as I resisted – just barely – the urge to pull Sense and Sensibility from my backpack, he lobbed up this comment about Austen unprompted: She is “done for” because we’ve entered “a divorce culture.” One can no longer rely on one’s mate. I flipped to the back of the journal in which I was taking notes: Pfhew, the photo of my husband of twenty years was still there. “At home later, I Googled “happy ending”: what I got was nothing about literature and everything about a massage that … well … people do seem to like. As I sat in that symposium, though, I had only my own favorite books to stack up against the Noted Author’s no-happy-endings admonishment. Among the classics, five of my eight favorites qualified, I decided, for happy ending status: Pierre and Natasha, Princess Marya and Nikolay, and even young Nikolinka all leave us with a sense of contentment and hope in War and Peace, as do Dorothea in Middlemarch…