Jessie: In New Hampshire where some things are ending and others are beginning.
[NEWS FLASH: Jay Roberts is the winner of Annette Dashofy’s Til Death! Check your email, Jay.]
As we continue to discuss the unexpected this month I wanted to talk about unexpected endings. My youngest child graduated from high school this month, and while that was not unexpected, it has made me think about endings and what unexpected things might fly into my empty nest. Which leads me to today’s topic. Wickeds, which book or film have you read or watched that had the most unexpected ending?
Julie: What a great question! I was recently talking about the ending of the manuscript I’m working on, and how it didn’t work. It was surprising not in the “oh, she tricked me” way. Instead it was the “where the heck did that come from” way. She told me about reading a book and loving it until the past twenty pages, and how the turn in the narrative was so awful she’s still upset about it ten years later. So in the “I love this ending and it makes sense” realm, I remember the first time I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and how much I loved how Agatha Christie tricked me. In the “Argh, I hate this” realm, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie ends with Darcy and Elizabeth dressed in their nightclothes, meeting on the moor. I liked so much of that version, but that ending, while romantic, didn’t belong to that world.
Edith/Maddie: I’ve been reading through all of Ann Cleeves work. In one of her Shetland books (I won’t tell you which), the ending shocked and surprised and saddened me – and yet, I could see that she had to do it. I went searching for reader reactions. Oh, were they pissed off! I messaged Ann on Twitter (we met at Crime Bake and I drove her to the airport, so she remembered me), and she explained why she ended the book that way. She’s a master at her craft. I have much to learn.
Liz: I’m probably in the minority here, but I truly hated the ending of Gone Girl. It wasn’t just unexpected, it struck me as so unreal that I couldn’t even pretend to buy it. It was probably one of the only books I ever read where I felt like I wasted my time with the whole thing because of that ending.
Sherry: Liz, I’m in complete agreement with you and it was the book that popped into my mind too. In my own writing, the third book, All Murders Final, had an unexpected ending for me. And if I’d known there would be more books in the series, I wouldn’t have ended it that way.
Jessie: Sherry, I know what you mean about unexpected endings for series! I wish I could have tied things up differently for the first series I wrote for Berkley. In other people’s work, I would say The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I was so shocked, sad, furious, and then in awe of the rightness of the ending. Such a fantastic book!
Barb: I loved Gone Girl, even the ending. For me the ultimate awful ending was Smilla’s Sense of Snow. I felt so tricked. While I was reading the first three quarters of the book, I was telling everyone I met, “You have to read this!” Then I got the the end and I was so mad. It’s the best example I have of when you ratchet the tension up to 10 on word one and keep it there it leaves you nowhere to go at the end but to walk the book right off a cliff. One the other end, I cried and cried at the end of Lonesome Dove, not just because of the ending, but because the book was over and I would never be able to read it for the first time again.