Some great authors believe that a book isn't good unless it ends in tragedy. This of course occurs mainly in literature and not so much in fiction. And it certainly is true that none of the classical masterpieces that end in the hero or heroine's death (or even both), like Romeo and Juliet, would have become immortal in our hearts if it were not for the tears at the end. There is something that adds momentum in a story that ends in the grave. It is somehow more significant and prefect. The last page of the book is the last page in someone's life. Or it's the last page in love. I completely get that and that's why I have read the works of authors like William Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy over and over through the years.
But as I grow older and observe life around me I find so much pain and sorrow that I almost can't take it all in. So, there comes a time that, when I open a book to read, I want to be sure that it will make me laugh and smile and dream. I have asked myself many times over the years if my growing obsession with books that end well -preferably in a happily ever after- is a show of immaturity. If it means that I can't take life in its true form and just deal with it.
When I got engaged I found out that I couldn't read books that contained a widow or a widower. It was just too painful to get into their minds and feel and think like they did. Even for a few minutes, I couldn't bare to think what it would be like if I lost my love. And then I had so much difficulty stomaching a new love interest when the adored late husband had once been the heroine's life and light. It just feels wrong to me. Anyway, pretty soon I decided I don't have to put myself through this torture. Maturity or no maturity, I have to shed enough tears about myself as it is. I don't need to cry for fictional people's problems. That's when my quest for HEA books started, to the point where I even read the last page of a book, if possible, before I buy it. You know, just to make sure that they are hugging or laughing together or having babies.
Then I read an interview of a guy who had been a very handsome actor. But then one day he had an accident which left him confined to a wheelchair. He became an author and a successful one at that. The reporter asked him if he ended his books happily, or if he tried to make them mirror life more realistically, thinking, I suppose, that here was an author who would have the guts and the experience to write about tragedy. And the young author said, "I think we each have enough sadness in our own lives as it is. I think that art should give people hope and something to smile about, something to help them forget their personal hell. I certainly need that. And that's what I want to do with my books. You will find only happy endings there."
I have never felt guilty about wanting to read happily-ever-after books since. Sometimes I even think that authors who love to kill their heros have just not had enough pain in their own lives to know what that is like. And I have never even come close to a Nicholas Sparks book since either, although I love the way he writes.