BTT: Endings

Last week's Booking Through Thursday question was about memorable first lines from books. This week's question is quite similar, but I find it a lot more difficult to answer this one.

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

A lot of people mentioned last week that they hardly ever notice opening sentences. I look for interesting opening sentences, which is why I made a long list of favourite opening sentences. (Btw, why hasn't anyone recognised that last one? And here I was, thinking it was too easy...)

This question, however, wouldn't make much sense unless we change "final sentences" to "endings". No author is going to worry too much about how the last sentence is going to sound; it's the beginning that might catch (or not) somebody's attention. But endings are still very important, in that sometimes people might end up hating an excellent book just because the ending was bad.

If I really had to mention a famous last line, I'd say nothing can beat "they lived happily ever after", although I don't remember any book that actually ended that way. Nor do I remember one that starts with "once upon a time..." even though you could call it one of the most famous opening sentences. ;-)

Anyway, coming to our question, I can't say I have ever radically changed my opinion about a book because of the ending. There are many books, where I was disappointed with the way things were wrapped up. Bel Canto (review) is a perfect example of that. The book was rather good, but the ending came as something of a shock. The epilogue of the book just didn't fit in with the rest of the story.

A similar case is the last Harry Potter book. I didn't exactly hate the epilogue, but the story was wrapped up well by the end of the final chapter and the epilogue looked rather out of place. But both cases, the endings didn't make me like the books any less.

As for really good endings, I loved the way Nicholas Sparks left room for hope at the end of A Walk to Remember by giving an ambiguous ending.

Frederick Forsyth is an author who writes some great endings. His book, The Devil's Alternative waits till the very last paragraph to reveal the biggest plot twist. Now that's how a book should end.

I couldn't think of any last sentences from books, except for the "all was well" from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Do you remember any last sentences from books? And could a good last sentence have the kind of impact a great opening sentence has?

7 comments:

mari said...

Great minds think alike? :)

I have Bel Canto on my to-read list for the New Classics challenge. Can't wait to read it.

Nithin said...

@mari. I hope you enjoy the book. I liked the book very much except for that ending.

Confuzzled Books said...

I never remember lines from book beginning, middle or end. I just enjoy the story.

Smilingsal said...

"They lived happily ever after"and "once upon a time..." are both used many times in fairy tales.

trish said...

I didn't even think about Harry Potter. She definitely wrapped things up in a pretty bow, didn't she?

Traci said...

I thought Deathly Hallows' epilogue was a little trite. BUT (and this is a pretty big but), I am glad that she tied it up, and that we got to see a bit of their life beyond that final chapter. While it might have been more powerful to end it at the end of the final chapter and leave off the epilogue, I felt more satisfied hearing how everyone turned out. I'd invested a lot in those characters, and I wanted to know more than just that they survived.

heather (errantdreams) said...

The funny thing is, I rarely remember particular first or last lines. I think it's because I kind of 'sink into' the writing as I read it, so it becomes an experience rather than words on a page.

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