Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Top 10 books with a happy ending

Elise Valmorbida is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Matilde Waltzing and the forthcoming collection of true stories about finding love, The Book of Happy Endings.

She recently came up with a list of the top 10 books with a happy ending for the Guardian.

Her frame of reference, followed by the top two:
"It's a challenge to choose good books with happy endings. Tragedy is generally more interesting and most of my favourite books are bleak. Voss. Beloved. Lord of the Flies. Wide Sargasso Sea. The God of Small Things. Anything by Samuel Beckett, George Orwell or Michael Ondaatje. When I write fiction, it's normally bleak, which perversely makes me happy. But I out-smiled the Cheshire Cat as I wrote about real people with joy to share in this doomsday world. In The Book of Happy Endings you'll meet, amongst others, Iraqi political dissidents full of hope and love, strangers who discover passionate devotion after a year of transatlantic letters, and a frail old London widow whose approach to life is truly inspirational."

1. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
At a talk in Brighton, the author joked about this book as the best she could do when her publishers begged her for something with a happy ending. If you've read Postcards or any of her other richly poetic but bleak books, you'll know that The Shipping News is as happy as it gets. The hero fumbles his way into love after lots of bad weather and squidburgers, not to mention death on all sides. But the ending is happy. Really it is.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of those books I adored as a child. It's still a deeply affirmative read now that I'm a grown-up. The racists are defeated by wisdom, Atticus kills the rabid dog in one shot, and the dreaded Boo Radley turns out to be benign after all. Plot aside, the language is as sharp as a peppermint drop. And that makes me happy.
Read the rest of Valmorbida's list.