Top Ten Tuesday: Best Epilogues and Endings

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

For this one the topic was:

June 14: Books I Wish Had An Epilogue

But I went with just best epilogues and endings. Basically, there were some that I wasn’t sure were epilogues or not! Warning for SPOILERS here:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I think of this as “how to do an epilogue properly.” It’s set 200 years after the events of the story and is narrated by a historian who found and transcribed it. It gives us a glimpse of the world after it changes from what Offred knows. It reminds us how civilizations rise and fall.

And then There Were None by Agatha Christie – The epilogue moves this book from the “frustrating” to “satisfying” category. Basically, this is where we learn whodunnit and why.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling – People seem divided into those who like this epilogue and those who don’t. I do, because we learn in it that Harry’s son is named Albus Severus Potter. In other words his initials spell ASP. Snakes are usually significant in the Harry Potter universe and don’t usually mean good things are coming. On an entirely different note, it’s always nice to get a “where are they now.”

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon – For three books a threat loomed over the heads of these characters. A character from the future had learned something bad happens to them, and warned them. It doesn’t play out in the way we expect though. In the epilogue we learn why. It’s a reminder of how historical record often gets things wrong, and no one ever knows.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – This allegorical novel depicts an animal revolution against humans on a farm, led by pigs. As time goes on the pigs create laws that oppress the other animals, until the end, when the pigs are sitting at table talking to the humans, and it’s hard to tell which is which. Because with power we can become our enemies.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – This is another “love it or hate it” ending. I loved it, because it went against everything we’ve expected all along. People who dislike this ending call it a deus ex machina. Which it is, but it’s done in a thought provoking way. The film adaptation changed this to the ending that felt expected which (I thought) missed the whole point.

Atonement by Ian McEwan – It’s almost impossible to discuss this ending without major spoilers. The book finishes off with an ending that feels conclusive and then there’s “just kidding!” that totally makes sense given character and circumstances. I often feel like those kinds of endings are cop outs, but in this situation it was done right.

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve – This has a tie-in to another of Shreve’s books, The Weight of Water. All through this book, I thought that a character was lying about something mentioned in The Weight of Water. It turned out to be true.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This is probably another unpopular choice. A lot of people feel like the second half of the book is a let down after the first, and movies frequently end the adaptation after the first half! But I think the second half brings everything full circle. Without it, the narrative lacks balance. I wish there was a less boring word than “symmetry” to describe what I mean!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That I Got Lost In

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

November 24: Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful for… Freebie

For this list I decided to look at the kind of books I’m thankful for. This year I definitely sought out the experience of losing myself in a book for a while. I was thankful when books allowed me to do that. So I decided to list books that I was able to fall into, and forget about reality for a while. They’re not all books that I read this year (nor are they all great literature, by any stretch of the imagination!) but they’re books that gave me the sort of experience that I was grateful for this year. Hope that makes sense!

  1. Harry Potter series- In spite of my ongoing issues with the author, I will always have love in my heart for these books. They created a world that I cared about, and let me live in it with the characters for seven books. When it was done, I felt like I’d grown up with these characters. Oh, and I say that I can put an entire series in one spot on this list! My list my rules!

2. Outlander series- This isn’t perfect either (I think issue with a few themes) but it did create another world that I could live in. Reality disappears when I read about the reality of these characters even if they’re doing something relatively mundane (with the right characters, a chapter on laundry can be fun!) but knowing these guys, excitement and adventure is usually just around the corner.

3. The Dollinganger series by VC Andrews- Full disclosure: I got lost in this series when I was about 12. What was shocking and page turningly compelling then, probably wouldn’t hold up now. But I do remember spending an entire bus ride on a school field trip engrossed in Petals On The Wind (I had just finished Flowers in the Attic and I needed to know what came next!)

4. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray- I came for the Victorian era feminism. I stayed- glued to the page- the find out about the worlds in which Gemma found herself. I was invested in these characters, intrigued by the mythological systems that Gemma encounters, and eager to see what a young Victorian girl with little agency in her own life, could do with supernatural realms of power. I read the first two back to back, but The Sweet Far Thing hadn’t come out and that point, so I had to wait to finish.

5. Intensity by Dean Koontz- I can’t remember what first made me pick this book up. I think someone might have recommended it. But I remember starting it on a Friday and not putting it down for the rest of the weekend.

6. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton- I picked this up with relatively low expectations (the only Morton book that I had read prior was The House at Riverton, which I thought was just OK) but I was pleasantly surprised. The story spoke to a lot of my literary tastes (multiple timelines, fairy tales, historical fiction) and just cast a spell on me. I’m glad I gave Morton another chance because now she’s an automatic read for me.

7. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield- I started getting into this late one night, and couldn’t put it down until the next morning. It was a literal all nighter. I distinctly remember coming upon a plot revelation at around 1am and wishing I could talk to someone about it!

8. Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie- In this case, I don’t know why I found this book so compelling. It retold a story that I find interesting but not usually riveting. But this book was glued to my face for some reason. I read it at work during my lunch break. I also enjoyed the second and third in the author’s Camelot trilogy, Grail Prince and Prince of Dreams, but not quite as much as this one.

9. The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons- This is another one that I suspect would not hold up well to a reread, but teenage Fran was unable to put the book down (or stop crying when it was over!) I ordered the rest of the trilogy and read it ASAP.

10. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel- I read this my freshman year of high school and was briefly interested in studying human evolution because of it. The subject still interests me, but not as something to study. Unfortunately the quality of the books in the series diminished with each one (second was good, third was OK, fourth and fifth were not good. I didn’t even bother with #6)

11. The Pact by Jodi Picoult- For some reason everyone in my high school was reading this book, so I picked it up. In retrospect, I think some of the themes wouldn’t hold up well, but at the time, I recall it being a page turner. Though I see it’s subtitled “A Love Story” and I don’t recall it being that at all…

I think sometimes the experience of not being able to put a book down depends on the right book finding you at the right time. In these cases, these books found me in the right mood/frame of mind to read them compulsively. Some hold up better than others, and some I’d rather remember well, than revisit. Regardless, I am very thankful when I’m able to disappear into a book world, like I did with these.