Happy Endings? Yours or Mine?

I’m going to make a confession.  I like to smile at the end of a novel.  I like to think that problems have been resolved, that the characters I grew to care about will start the next phase of their lives with fewer burdens and a healthy dose of optimism.  I like, dare I admit it, a happy ending.  You may feel the same way.

But your happy ending and my happy ending?  Are they necessarily the same?

I once heard the happy ending defined as “the satisfying conclusion to the central conflict.” I liked that and made it my own, because frankly, I think happy endings are much broader than we sometimes assume. After all, if there was only one way to end every story, what exactly would be the point of reading?

The subject of happy endings came up recently when a reviewer contacted my publisher and admitted she faced a dilemma with my upcoming novel, One Mountain Away. Not that she didn’t like it. She did. A lot. In fact she made One Mountain Away one of her rare recommended reads. But the reviewer, Dorine Linnen, knew that some of the readers who read her reviews at Romance Junkies, might find this novel so different from the happily-ever-afters of the romance novels she normally reviews, that she wanted to find a way to warn them without giving away the story. And so, thoughtful woman that she is, she contacted my publisher for a discussion.

In the end  Dorine solved the problem this way:

I need to mention that ONE MOUNTAIN AWAY may not meet the expectations of those who read mostly romance, even though it has a beautiful love story within it.  It’s women’s fiction and definitely follows a different drummer, which is why I love it.  I highly recommend this novel as an inspirational journey well worth the box of tissue you’ll go through while reading, and even though there’s a great deal of love within this novel, it’s more about women’s relationships and their personal growth.  ONE MOUNTAIN AWAY is filled with sorrow, optimism, forgiveness, faith and a deep love that transcends a lifetime.”

You can read the rest of her wonderful review here.

Can a novel that requires “a box of tissue” be a novel with a happy ending?

Every novel sets up a different set of problems, but if a character sets out on a difficult journey, we want him or her to reach the destination with new wisdom and insight, even while encountering obstacles that may still be roadblocks in the future. In “women’s fiction” we expect the novel’s characters to grow and change for the better, but most of all, we want them to find what they’ve spent the novel searching for.

You will have to decide what a happy ending means for you, but I can tell you that by my definition, One Mountain Away has a happy ending and I look forward to discussing it with you after you’ve read it. While a box of tissue may be called for, I also promise that when I finished my final edits, I was smiling.

I think you will be smiling, too.


  1. Becky on July 10, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The review was awesome. I’m looking forward to this new adventure.

  2. Lynn Ross on July 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I usually do not read a novel unless I am assured in advance that it will end with, “…and they all lived happily ever after.” (except for the bad guys of course, and I even feel sorry for them) I hear so many sad stories in real life, that I don’t want to read about “the morning after the night before.” However, I trust you, Emilie, and I will read your books no matter where they take me. I know that any book that you have written has enriched my life, and I’m sure this one will, too. And, hey, I can do tissues! 🙂

  3. Mia on July 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

    The older I get, the more I find myself reading books that end happily ever after. But I am sure many people definition differ.
    The one book that I truly believe I finished a whole box of tissues is The Notebook and yet it I believe it ended happily ever after.
    So I am looking forward to your book and I will be prepared with my box of tissues.

    • Emilie Richards on July 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      The Notebook’s a great example of a “different” happy ending. Thanks for pointing that out and for your kind words.

  4. Joyce on July 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I always smile at the end of your books, but I also always wish the story would just go on and on! I especially wish the Shenandoah series would continue. Your characters are so very real, they seem like family and I miss them when I close the book.

    • Emilie Richards on July 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      I plan to do the next Shenandoah book on my own if necessary, but it will get written. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter will know, but if not, check my website from time to time. The series deserves a better ending and most of my mail comes from people who ask for one. So I’m all for it.

  5. Becky on July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    That would be awesome to have an ending to the Shenandoah series. I love feeling uplifted… recently I read a book that concluded quite of a lengthy series and whether or not the ending was happy would have been slightly up for debate, but you could see that the characters had evolved and the ending albeit sad in parts was a perfect ending.

  6. Nancy Badertscher on July 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    What a great review! I’m sure you are very happy with it!And, while it didn’t give too much away, it has me even more intrigued to read the book. There aren’t many books I buy as soon as they come out, but this is going to be one of them!

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