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Monday, April 16, 2012

Re-Writing "The End"



Growing up, one of the first "real" books I remember reading was Little Women. I devoured the book in one sitting, but when I got to one particular section, I got so angry that I threw the book across the room.

Wait just a second. Jo refused Laurie?

Not only that, but she married old man Professor Bhaer?



NO!

And not only that, but Laurie then married Jo's bratty sister Amy?


NOOOOOO!

That was SO not right. I was so angry with Louisa May Alcott that I had a hard time finishing the book, much less reading it over again. So I would only re-read to a certain point in the story, around Meg's wedding, and then I would stop and imagine my own ending.


Years later, I read that Alcott was pressured into marrying Jo off by her editor. While Alcott always intended for Jo to remain a spinster, she had to create a love interest for Jo—and in a rush, she created Professor Bhaer's character. And while that eased some of the sting of this ending for me (after all, as a writer, you often bow to the wishes of your editor) I never liked that Laurie married Amy. I never forgave Amy for burning Jo's book of fairy stories, or for getting to have Jo's trip to Europe. She certainly never deserved Laurie!

Over the years, I've read other books that I loved, but in many of them, the endings weren't really as satisfying as I wished. Here's just a few of them:
Manderley should have never burned down, and the DeWinters should have lived there together as a happy couple;



Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe shouldn't have taken four books to get together. Anne of Windy Poplars was an exercise in frustration—it was written in the epistolary style, but only from Anne's point of view. No hope of reading Gilbert's letters to Anne. And when Anne began to get too romantic in her letters, the door was slammed shut in our faces—"several pages omitted," LM Montgomery would summarize. Not fair! By the time we got to Anne's House of Dreams, it was a wedding that had been delayed almost too achingly long;



I was OK with Margaret Mitchell leaving Scarlett and Rhett's future up to question, because knowing Scarlett, she'd win him back. But I was always sad that Bonnie Blue had to be sacrificed in the process. She was so precocious and so cute—I wanted to see what she'd be like when she grew up.




As a writer, I love working in a genre that pretty much demands a happily-ever-after (HEA, for those in the know). I love the satisfaction of allowing my characters to realize their dreams, and as a reader, I love reading stories that have an entirely rewarding ending. For me, there's nothing lovelier than a fade-out on the blissfully happy hero and heroine, their love secure and realized at long last.

So, let's start the discussion. Which books would you re-write, if you had the chance?

And while we're at it, are you on Team Laurie or Team Bhaer?

27 comments:

  1. Team Laurie! I'm with you, Lily, I've always wanted Jo and Laurie to get together. I am still able to enjoy the book, though, and have reread Little Women many times.

    The fact that Amy ended up with him has always felt like a lesson in being grown up to me--and it also felt like an almost cynical lesson about men. My young heart wanted Jo to be happy with him, but I recognized that he did what he had to to get what he really wanted--to be a part of the March family. It's always been a little depressing for me! I love my HEA...

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    1. The way it's written, it's like Laurie settled for Amy just so he could be close to Jo the rest of his life. But maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part!

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    2. You've got it all wrong, Lily! There were always the hints of Amy and Laurie....he saved her from the broken ice...she always dogged their steps. Laurie just thought it was supposed to be Jo so he never really looked at who was really before him...Amy. : )
      Hugs,
      Christina

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  2. Lily,
    It broke my heart that Syndey Carton sacrificed himself in "A Tale of Two Cities", but there really couldn't have been another ending with as much impact.

    I know I never would have written a sequel to "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood". The second book ruined my whole experience & took a character I had grown to love and made her despicable. I pretend that book doesn't exist.

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    1. Hi Samantha--I've read "Divine Secrets" but none of the other books in the series. What's the sequel? Does it turn Vivi into a villain?

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  3. Team Laurie! It never seemed right that he married Amy. I must have a happily ever but like you, I am okay with the ending to Gone With the Wind. In my mind Rhett came back and swept Scarlet off her feet and carried her up that grand staircase *sigh*. At the moment I can't think of a book that left me disappointed in not giving me that HEA. Maybe I block those from my memory.

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    1. Agreed. GWTW's ending maybe wasn't exactly the HEA we all hoped for--but we knew Scarlett would get him back. I wish Mitchell had written more books in her lifetime--she was an amazing writer.

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    2. I totally agree! Mitchell was way ahead of her time in terms of writing. She was brilliant and one of my idols. And I have to say I don't think I've ever read another sigh winning scene quite like the grand staircase scene. There was simply something magical about that scene. Rhett is my dream man and I am still in love with him.

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  4. Even though Jo ended up with the professor and Laurie ended up with Amy, that is not what I ever remember from that book. I remember Jo and Laurie. It doesn't matter how many times I read it, either. That's what my brain wants. So call me Team Laurie.

    I haven't had enough coffee yet to recover from the RT Convention (it might take a week! LOL...) so I'm not able to think up the books I wanted to change the ending of. But there was a movie I watched recently, This Means War, that featured Reese Witherspoon in the middle of a love triangle. She ended up with the WRONG guy! Augh! I was so upset and wanted to rewrite it. (And now that I'm about 2/3 through the Hunger Games trilogy, I will be so, so mad if things don't work out how I want them to. But please, no one tell me. I'll probably finish it today, with all of my travel...)

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    1. Catherine how do you see the ending of the Hungry Games. Which guy should Katniss end up with in your mind. I know the answer and I won't tell you. I had to beg my friend to tell me the end cause I threaten not to finish the series cause I was so angry with the end of the first book.

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    2. Catherine ~ How do you want THG to end? I'm dying to know. Funny, all of the adults I know wanted one outcome and all of the teens another.

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    3. I haven't seen This Means War but when I do, I'll be waiting to see if I have your same reaction, Catherine!

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    4. That's funny, Catherine. I actually LOVED the ending for "This Means War". The one she choose (can't remember his name right off...named after a President) was the man who changed the most, which means he was really falling in love with the girl. And of course the English dude had his ex and their son. Yeah, that was perfect, I thought. :)

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    5. I am Team Peeta. All the way. (I am SOOOOOOO close to finishing, so please don't spoil me!)

      Marie, while I love a bad boy reformed, I didn't get the sense that he was going to truly reform. I wanted her to go for the good guy. :/

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  5. I was rather upset with Laurie ending up with Amy. What am I talking about I'm still fuming, and Jo with the old guy. Why couldn't he been younger? I loved Laurie up until he we went off and married Amy.

    Let's be honest I tend to not finish a book if its not going how I believe it should end. I still have a book a romance novel a I haven't finished yet cause I didn't like the story line. Granted I have skipped ahead to the end to see if it ends the way I wanted. It does in a way, but I'm just so mad with it that it still goes unfinished.

    There is another book that sits in the kindle cause friends said it was good, again frustrated. Where is my happy endings that is make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I guess I should stop ranting about this. Thank you for letting me vent out the frustration of not seeing happy endings.

    By the way I would have had Laurie and Jo back together. Especially have them grow up a little more before they realize they were perfect for each other.

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    1. Vent away, Melody! It's a question that still resonates years and years after Alcott published the book. Which just goes to show what an amazing writer she was, and how hurt we all were when she had Jo refuse Laurie.

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  6. Like Catherine, my brain is still a little fried from RT. So books aren't popping to mind, but movies are. I'm not sure if anyone here ever saw Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman (Being a rabid Newman fan, I've seen everything). But COOL HAND LUKE is one of my all time favorite movies. Who would think *I* would love a chain gang movie...? It's just so well done and Newman's Luke is a character I will never forget no matter how old I get. The ultimate unbreakable spirit!

    If anyone wants to see it, I don't want to spoil the ending - but I will say that there have been times where the romance author in me will think about the last scene in that movie and have it turn out differently in my mind. Seriously - the art of acting at its best!

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    1. Ah yes. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Cool Hand Luke was one of Newman's best, and that's saying something!

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  7. Almost every Nicholas Sparks book I've read has had the exact opposite ending to the one I wanted. I just can't read them anymore. :( I want the happy ending and the redemption and the true love that wins against all odds.

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    1. Sarra ~ That's exactly why I don't read him. You know my rule... if I'm paying money for entertainment be it in book form or movie - I want to laugh or go an adventure.

      But crying?

      I can do that for free at home. If I'm spending money, it better be worth the high. ;)

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    2. Sarra I'm the same way when it comes to him. The Notebook was the las straw for me. With A walk to remember I was able to get with my own happy ending cause it was it didn't really say she died that year. I have decided its a no on Sparks books.

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    3. I'm not much of a Nicholas Sparks fan either--which is blasphemy, because I lived in New Bern, NC for two years (his hometown).

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    4. I have to agree with all the above! I am definitely Team Laurie! While I admire the man, Sparks brings me down. He's such a brilliant writer though, the way he can wring every emotion from his readers on every single page is simply breathtaking but I hate the endings. I do plan to read and go see the movie The Lucky One. How can I not? It looks and sounds fabulous but I know it's going to be a tear jerker. What can I say I am a glutton for punishment.

      My mother loves Sparks but I'm too tied to my happily-ever-afters to tolerate him for longer than one book at a time. I simply cannot read him but once in a while.

      Hmm I can't think of any other books I'd like to change, I think they've all been mentioned already. I'll keep thinking though. Great topic! I love this post!

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  8. I'm Team Laurie, too! lol

    Okay, what books I've read which I hated the ending? This is a hard one, because most of the ones I've read lately have the perfect ending, which blocks out the books I've hated. lol However, I've seen many movies that I want to rant and rave - and slap the producers. One movie in particular "A Stranger Among Us" with Melanie Griffith, was one of these movies. Why make your audience fall in love with the hero and heroine if they are NOT going to end up together? REALLY???

    But it was this particular movie 16 years ago that encouraged me to start writing. It was the pure need for HEA's that made me pick up a pencil and notebook...and start writing. So, although I hate the ending to this movie, I'm very glad I'd watched it. :)

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  9. If we are going to mention movies, what about Sommersby? I honestly can't remember the movie that well, but the ending is still vivid.

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  10. Okay - I'll bite and mention a TV series that bugged me. Battlestar Galactica Remastered. Starbuck and Apollo. Really? You're just going to let them walk away from each other after everything they went through?

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  11. At first, I really thought Jo was going to end up with Laurie! But honestly, I think they had ended up (Laurie and Jo) with their own perfect mates. Just imagine living in their time, unlike today, as long as you love your partner, you'll go and get married. And then you'll end up getting a divorce. Jo was very smart to consider everything. If she ended up with Laurie, they'll kill each other every week. While Amy brought the best in Laurie as Fritz brought the best in Jo. Team LauriexAmy!

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