Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

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The Post in which I Get Tired of Happy Endings June 18, 2010

It appears! The RDJ .gif I was going to use in the Title and Rank post!

Okay. I have to admit.

I see the pattern, duh.

But I’m really sick of the constant happy family ending.

As you probably guessed – Jem is a family man at heart, raising his daughter Little Father – sorry, Eugenia on his own. In fact, she gets her own little subplot where she is bit by a rat and suffers from rat-bite fever.

Shock and awe that this is another chance for Jem and Harriet (now known to Jem and Eugenia as a woman) to bond. Over a child.

Okay. That’s fine. So Harriet, in marrying Jem, becomes Eugenie’s mother. Saw that from the beginning.

But the epilogue?

“‘Where do you suppose this baby came from?’ he said wonderingly.

‘The usual places.’ He loved her laugh.

‘But we were married for years without children. And then Colin, and now -‘

‘I didn’t think I could.’

Under his hand was just the smallest flutter of life. ‘I never used to cry, not a single damp eye, before I met you,’ he said accusingly.

She kissed him until he didn’t feel sentimental anymore, just hungry. But he didn’t want to wear Harriet out, so he didn’t follow that kiss to its natural conclusion.” p.365

Yep. They have their own baby and another is on the way.

Curb my enthusiasm.

But this doesn’t make sense. We’ve learned that this novel takes place in the 1780s right? And at the start, Harriet is twenty-seven. Jem is thirty. Eugenia is eight. In the epilogue, Eugenia is in her teens (she’s come out) so that means that Harriet has to be somewhere in her mid thirties.

And it’s 1780. I don’t know – I feel like the author is playing with fire here. Especially since Eugenie almost dies of rat-bite fever – sickness was easy to come by. To give birth in her thirties seems a little troublesome – but then again – maybe not so much. I guess we can just chalk that up to the masculine side of Harriet.

But I’m going to speak plainly here. I did not want this book to end with a happy family. Marriage? Sure. Family unit? Sure. But a new baby and another on the way?

Simply: I felt that Harriet’s masculinity was taken away. She had this great side to her for over three hundred pages then all of a sudden … she’s a mother and pregnant. She still has her streak of independence, of course (we hear about her riding from Jem as well as her wearing breaches when she rides), but I just felt that in this moment, Harriet was de-masculinized.

I won’t even comment on Jem getting teary. We’ve seen in pretty much every novel before this that the men get this sentimental streak in them by the end of the novel so it isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s part of the formula. I don’t even think I’d bring my gender argument into this part because it’s so hackneyed that his ‘weepiness’ was just expected.

Happy family, remember?

So – my question: is there a book out there that ends with the protagonists going off on a new adventure rather than settling?

Is there something else to look forward to?

Sure, for the first few books, the ending was satisfying but now … now, I want something different. You can always change aspects of the formula  – but the structure of it remains. Can’t adventure be substituted for ‘happy family?’

I don’t mean that I expected Harriet and Jem to explore the world – they didn’t seem the type – but what about the characters like Breanne and Caedmon from Viking in Love who seem to be?

So – until I find that – my reactions to the family-endings of these novels is going to be something like Ned’s:

Yeah ... no.

I was going to used a bummed Ron and Hermione (from PS even!) but I miss Pushing Daisies and I don’t want to think about how principle photography finished on Harry Potter a few days ago.

I still remember where I was when I first saw Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in a picture together – I was at my friend Sandy’s house using the computer – the picture took forever to load and the background was a the usual logo in tile effect. I remember how excited we were. And that was so many years ago …

End of an era … my childhood is really dying next year with the last film (though, it really did probably end with the final book – I’m giving it one last stretch).

Anyway – enough about HP.

Next week book looks … well … it looks interesting in an interesting way.

Have a great weekend!

PALATE CLEANSER! CLICK ME!

Reference

James, Eloisa. Duchess By Night. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

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