by Barb, on a beautiful, warm Maine day
Spoiler alert! I’ve never done this before, but today I am hijacking the blog for a discussion of the end of my latest Maine Clambake Mystery, Shucked Apart.
If you haven’t read Shucked Apart, and think that you might, do not read further.
If you haven’t read Shucked Apart, and are sure you never will, you can read further, but I don’t know why you would.
Okay, now that’s out of the way and it’s just us chickens….
At the end of Shucked Apart, as those who have read this far know, the Maine Clambake protagonist, Julia Snowden, breaks up with her boyfriend Chris Durand. Chris was introduced in the first book in the series, Clammed Up, and their relationship is in place by the third book, Musseled Out. In some of the books and novellas their domestic life has been pretty settled and happy. In others it’s been quite unsettled, often due to secrets spilling out from Chris’s past.
I love hearing from readers and I’m very grateful to those who leave reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. Other books in the series have many more reviews than Shucked Apart does, but none that are so passionate as for this book.
What’s been fascinating to me is that readers have divided neatly into pro-and anti-break up camps. Sentiment has basically run 50-50 from the very first emails and reviews to the present.
A Sampling of Comments from the Pro-Chris, Anti-Break-up Group
“A really great story but sad ending. I know Julia and Chris have had their problems in the past. Hope this is just a hiccup in their relationship, and the next book will have a truly happy ending.”
“I really LOVE Chris and Julia. I am really hoping there is more to come and that Chris and Julia will get back together!!!”
“… the ending made me very sad-I kept hoping for a happier ending for Julia and Chris.”
“Loved Shucked Apart just like I have loved all of the Clambake books. But I didn’t like the ending. Please get them back together in the next book!”
“This is one of my favorite series. Thanks for writing it and hope you will do more in the series. I broke my heart to see Julia leave Chris.”
“How much of a bribe will you accept to bring them back together?”
“And that they broke up? I don’t know why you wrote it like this, but you ruined the series for me and I imagine many other people. For the first time in many years, I’m not looking forward to the next book.”
“…the ending of this book left such a bad taste in my mouth and during a hard year of a pandemic, I don’t need that. Sorry Barbara, I have spent my last dollar on your books.”
“I liked the book until the end; that I didn’t like at all. It’s going to be very hard for me to read the next book and if the situation doesn’t resolve itself, I may be done with this series.”
A Sampling of Comments from the Anti-Chris, Pro-Break-up Group
“The conflict with Chris throughout and especially at the end was believable (if somewhat sad). I like that Julia was so clear-eyed about her need for honesty and trustworthiness.”
“What a great book! So many emotions. I love Chris but Julia deserves so much more!”
“Julia is so vulnerable despite her accomplishments I never thought she’d make that decision – and then it makes sense.”
“To be honest, I thought the sleuth should have left her boyfriend the last book I read. She should find a super cop boyfriend who can’t find an apple in a bunch of oranges like most of the other cozy protagonists.”
“I am not at all a fan of Chris – have never liked him from the beginning – so was actually cheering on the last page….”
“Julia makes an important life-changing decision that shows her strength and independence. She finally chooses to stand up for herself and understands the importance of meeting her own needs. The ending was quite a shocker – but not a surprise, it makes perfect sense.”
“And I was thrilled that she finally broke it off with Chris. I just hope his fans don’t cause the author to have Julia take him back.”
“I think Flynn is in.”
“There was a surprise towards the end, but I’m not going to give any spoilers away. Let’s just say that I hope things go the way I’m suspecting they’ll go within the next few books!”
What Does the Author Think?
This letter from a fan expresses my feelings almost exactly.
“I was surprised but not really shocked at the Julia-Chris break up. I almost feel sorry for him, because he can’t help being the way he is, but Julia deserves to be with someone she can trust. See how I almost think of them as real people. You’ve done such an amazing job with character development that I’m totally invested in what happens in their lives.”
I, too, feel badly for Chris. And worse I feel guilty–because I made him that way. At least with your human kids you can blame their genes and the larger environment, but with Chris it is all my fault.
What Is Going to Happen?
I’ll never tell. Well, that’s a lie. I will eventually tell. In the meantime, everyone is going to have to wait. I’ll only say that Busman’s Harbor is a small town, so Julia hasn’t seen the last of Chris.
Readers: If you’ve made it this far, it’s because you’re invested. If you’ve been burning to discuss the ending of Shucked Apart, here’s your chance.