As I’m a bit slow in the reading department right now, I thought I’d post some of my favorite endings of novels. Sad to say, historical fiction is underrepresented, though there’s surely a novel that I’ve missed that has an ending that can match the ones below. And Dickens and Anne Tyler are overrepresented, but it’s hardly my fault that they write great endings, is it? But everyone has different tastes, so I’d love to hear your choices. Here are mine:
Anne Tyler, Saint Maybe:
And she tipped her head and smiled. After all, she might have said, this was an ordinary occurrence. People changed other people’s lives every day of the year. There was no call to make such a fuss about it.
Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
When the company disperse–by which time Mr. and Mrs. Veneering have had quite as much as they want of the honor, and the guests have had quite as much as they want of the other honor–Mortimer sees Twemlow home, shakes hands with him cordially at parting, and fares to the Temple, gaily.
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted and chafed, and made their usual uproar.
John Updike, Rabbit Is Rich
Through all this she has pushed to be here, in his lap, his hands, a real presence hardly weighing anything but alive. Fortune’s hostage, heart’s desire, a granddaughter. His. Another nail in his coffin. His.
Elizabeth Gaskell, Ruth
The first time, for years, that he had entered Mr Benson’s house, he came leading and comforting [Ruth’s] son–and, for a moment, he could not speak to his old friend, for the sympathy which choked up his voice, and filled his eyes with tears.
Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings
We were to have dinner with Sybil and Arnold that evening. It seemed a happy and suitable ending for a good day.
William Styron, Sophie’s Choice
This was not judgment day–only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
“And don’t you know that you are prettier than you ever were?”
I did not know that; I am not certain that I know it now. But I know that my dearest little pets are very pretty, and that my darling is very beautiful, and that my husband is very handsome, and that my guardian has the brighest and most benevolent face that ever was seen; and that they can very well do without much beauty in me–even supposing–.
Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons
Then she slipped free and moved to her side of the bed, because tomorrow they had a long car trip to make and she knew she would need a good night’s sleep before they started.
George Eliot, Middlemarch
But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you or me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.
(OK, I admit it, this one brings tears to my eyes. Every time.)