I know I blather on about things I see and read that resonate with me, but I think this is one of the greatest things I love about fiction; when a story or a character or a setting or a scene or a conversation or even a one-line remark touches you in some way.
It can be something hugely powerful which feels like you’ve been gripped by the throat and you can’t shake it off. Or it can be a warm feeling that wraps around you, makes you feel comfortable and brings a smile to your face.
This leads me to one of my recent reads, which was the latest book in Jayne Ann Krentz’s Arcane Society series. This author is a favourite of mine because of the fabulous dynamic between her heroes and heroines and the masterly (or is that mistressly??) way she crafts a conversation.
In Running Hot, the main protags have a discussion about a romantic suspense novel the heroine is reading. It was the latter part of this that I can’t stop thinking about. Here it is:
“If I want real police work I’ll read newspapers, not a book,” she said.
“Probably a good idea. Let me know how that one ends.”
She turned another page. “I already know how it ends.”
“You read the ending first?”
“I always read the ending before I commit to the whole book.”
He looked at her, baffled. “If you know how it ends, why read the book?”
“I don’t read for the ending. I read for the story.” She looked toward the entrance, watching a cab that had pulled up in front. “Life is too short to waste time on books that end badly.”
“By badly you mean unhappily, right?”
“As far as I’m concerned the two are synonymous.”
The heroine’s logic, convoluted though it might be for some, works for me.
The main reason I read the huge, swirling mass of sub-genres making up romance fiction is because I want a story that progresses, through conflict and challenges, character development, whatever, towards a ‘good’ ending. I’m usually guaranteed this precisely because the book IS a romance.
This doesn’t mean all threads need be wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow, or it can’t be HFN, or it must have a white wedding or commitment ceremony, or finding out how many children the couple have, or knowing they live to a ripe old age before dying a few weeks apart.
It means by the last page of the book that I, as a reader, need to be convinced the relationship between the protags is going to work (in some way, shape or form).
I want to be satisfied and, yes dammit, I want my happy ending!
So how about you? Is “Life is too short to waste time on books that end badly”? Because I’m seriously wondering whether I should
steal borrow this as a motto for my blog. *g*