I’ll readily admit it. I’m one of those people. Occasionally, I like to read a book that has an unhappy ending. Actually, more than occasionally. I often like books with unhappy endings.
Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy a happy ending as much as the next person, as long as it’s not cheesy or silly or completely unrealistic. For example, I love the end of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and other Victorian novels. I smile when I close the book at the end of some modern novels, knowing that the guy and the girl got together in the end, the dragon was slain, the illness was cured, and all the wayward child returned home. Those endings have their place. But I really love a book that ends with a sob or a sigh, or even those books that make me think about the world at large and its injustices.
I think the reason I feel this is way is because life is often sad and things don’t always go the way we hope. C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we’re not alone.” With this in mind, I like finding characters with whom I can identify.
So I decided to highlight some of those books I’ve read with satisfyingly unhappy endings (without giving away the ending of course).
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh
And as a bonus, here’s one I haven’t read yet, but everyone is loving it right now , and I’m told the ending is “devastating.”
So which do you prefer? A happy or a sad ending?