Romance readers crave a happy ending.
Romance writers deliver happy endings.
Some of my guests at Romance Writers on the Journey have asked their visitors to name their all-time favorite book. When I answer the question, I often say Little Women.
The fact that Little Women tops the list of my favorite books is odd because romances are my usual fare. Some might say it’s a romance, but the way I see it, Little Women doesn’t quality as one because it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Yeah sure, I know Jo ends up marrying Professor Bhaer, but that ending never satisfied me. She loved Laurie, and he loved her. If the story were a romance, they would have ended up together. Instead, Jo’s baby sister, Amy, got the guy.
Um, no. Not fair. Foul!
What went wrong?
The original story was loosely based upon Alcott’s life and the lives of her sisters. She wrote the first half at the request of her publisher, who wanted a story for girls. It ended before any of the March sisters married and was such a success her publisher asked her to write more of the tale. The second half of what we know as Little Women was originally published as Good Wives.
Since Alcott never married, she was forced to fictionalize the ending. And, personally, I think she flubbed it. She could have had Laurie, if only in the pages of her story. But in a gut-wrenching scene, she dashed his hopes—right along with those of this reader.
If I were into fan fiction, I’d consider writing a new ending, one where Laurie and Jo marry and live happily ever after.
Because I’m a true romantic who believes a romance novel, by design, ends with a HEA and that a romance writer owes it to her readers to deliver one. Some might say that’s narrow and limiting or formulaic, to which I would reply, “I don’t care.”
My stories end with happily-ever-afters. It’s what I want to read, so it’s what I write. 🙂
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If you’re a fan of romances, do you expect a happy ending?
How do you feel if the heroine doesn’t end up with her fellow?
If you’re a romance writer, do your stories have happy endings?
If you’ve read Little Women, were you disappointed with Alcott’s ending?