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Happy Endings

December 10, 2013
Happy Ever After  Creative Commons Licence 2.0 Flickr user/ gazeronly

Happy Ever After
Creative Commons Licence 2.0 Flickr user/ gazeronly

These days I’m primarily a romance reader.  Apart from a few biographies and the odd sci-fi novel, the books I choose outside the romance genre have at the least, a strong romantic thread – and they always have a happy ending.  We romance readers tend to get a lot of flak about our reading choices.  To me, there is enough misery and non-resolution in real life – I’ve decided I don’t need it in my reading.

It’s not just romance that has the happy ending.  I’d say it’s more like most genre fiction.  I tend to avoid literary fiction because, to me, that’s code for a crappy ending, not a satisfying one.  I don’t mind so much if the characters get put through the wringer during the story; I like an angsty read from time to time, but if the ending is a downer, the book will not be a success for me.

There are stories which have a love story contained within the pages, they may be romantic, but they aren’t “romance”.  A romance novel, for me, ends with a happy, optimistic, or at least hopeful , romantic resolution between the main characters.  That means, Gone With the Wind is not a romance.  (I stopped reading at the book’s happiest point for Rhett and Scarlett and made up my own).  Romeo and Juliet is not a romance either – after all, both characters die!

Where I’m uncertain about the ending, I’ll search the internet for spoilers before I’ll give a book I’m not sure of a try.  This means I haven’t read *spoiler alert*  Gone Girl or Me Before You  *end spoiler* and never will.  I didn’t try Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series until the fifth book, Shadowfever, was published and I knew there was a happy ever after.

But it’s not just the romance genre which has happy endings.  Think about it:

  • Would we have cheered if Harry Potter had died at the end of the series?
  • Would Lord of The Rings be so popular if Frodo had turned to Sauron and become his puppet and Middle Earth plunged into perpetual darkness?  If Aragorn had not regained his birthright (and, for that matter, Arwen)?
  • Would Jack Reacher be popular if he never solved anything?
  • If the world had been plunged into nuclear Armageddon at the end of The Hunt for Red October, would we still love the book?

In a crime fiction novel, we expect the crime to be solved, justice to be served in one way or another and for the good guys to win.

In fantasy, the quest has to be fulfilled and while you may lose one or two along the way (Dumbledore, Boromir), there is a happy and peaceful ending.

As children, the fairy tales we read or are told (and which, granted did not always end well in the original versions) are all happy endings.  The princess awakes; the Beast turns into a handsome prince; and so does the frog.  We’ve always loved happy endings, right from the beginning of storytelling.

It pleases me to read stories of things all working out in the end.  Of people falling in love and committing to one another, of sticking even in the hard times and coming out the other side stronger and more in love.  It pleases me to read that crimes are solved and evil is vanquished.  I read fiction for entertainment.  For pleasure.  And, so, I’m all about the HEA and proud of it.

If I want to hear about all the other stuff, well I just read the paper.



Kaetrin is a happily married mother of one from South Australia and an avid romance reader and listener.  Her To-Be-Read pile is way too large but that doesn’t stop her adding to it almost daily.

Kaetrin blogs at her own site, Kaetrin’s Musings , where all the books have happy endings (and if they don’t, you will absolutely know about it in no uncertain terms).  You can also find her reviewing romance books and romance audiobooks at Dear Author, AudioGals and occasionally on the ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) blog as well.  You can also find her on Twitter – @Kaetrin67

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2013 3:33 pm

    Sing it!!

  2. December 11, 2013 10:02 pm

    I agree. I like the happy endings too. Too much of the other stuff in real life!


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