Monday, February 3, 2014

When fictional romance goes wrong ..

Several news-outlets over the weekend reported an interview with J. K. Rowling by Emma Watson where Rowling discusses having made a mistake in marrying Ron to Hermione at the end of the Harry Potter series:

"I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy," Watson responds in excerpts from the interview printed in the Sunday Times. 

Rowling said she could "hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans" of her work and that she hoped she would not be "breaking people's hearts" with her revelations. 

Ron and Hermione, she reportedly goes on, would have needed counselling to sustain a relationship the best-selling author describes "as a form of wish fulfilment" on her part.

This news came after an interesting conversation I'd been having with pony book expert Jane Badger on the fourth Flambards book. For those who've not read the series Flambards is a trilogy of books with a fourth volume added over a decade later. In the fourth book the author K. M. Peyton does an about-face and re-arranges the couples who were all nicely sorted at the end of book three. It seems Peyton was, like J. K. Rowling, unsatisfied with the prospects in the marriages she'd made for her characters and went about saving them from 'counselling'.

This leads us into an interesting question: which of fiction's famous lovers do you think were making a terrible mistake, or were victims of the author's personal preferences and prejudices in picking their partners? Are there any books where you'd like to see one half of the lovers marrying someone else?

Much though I love Georgette Heyer I have never been entirely convinced that Judith would have been happy with the over-bearing Worth in Regency Buck - very different to the plausibility of the marriage in Heyer's  A Civil Contract.

I could also bang Romeo and Juliet's heads together. Staying with Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick remind me of the saying that some people marry so they can carry on the conversation for the rest of their lives and I can see them getting on in a bickering kind of way. I am also driven to distraction by Maggie Tulliver not sticking with Philip Wakem in The Mill on the Floss; simply doing so would have spared us the second part of the novel!

Which fictional lovers do you think have made mistakes or are unconvincing?

Browse my stock for works on the novel, or Shakespeare. For novels by Georgette Heyer, try Mike Sims. For works by K. M. Peyton such as the Flambards trilogy try Aucot and Thomas, Peakirk, or Stella and Roses.

For more on a romantic theme you might like our booksellers' Valentine's Day Gift Ideas.


Marijana Dworska said...

Well, I've just staggered through George Gissing's the Odd Women (I first picked it up in 1981 -so hurrah)and was wonderfully impressed by his empathy for that class of single women. Obviously Monica shouldn't have married Widdowson but I do think Rhoda Nunn could have given up a few of her principles and married that rogue Everard Barfoot if only to give the end a little leavening

Books & Bygones said...

Jane Eyre should have perhaps married Parson St. John Rivers and not Mr. Rochester. At least that would have given the opportunity of a sequel for the author. I think there is a lot more mileage from not having a happy ending. However it may be that at the time this novel was written there was a hunger for a happy ending. Today there nearly always is a cliff-hanger,e specially in the movies.

Juxtabook said...

Marijana - I've not read much Gissing but there is plenty of marital exasperation for the reader in New Grub Street!

Books& Bygones - now that is a very interesting thought. CB definitely indulges hers characters in seerving Rochester up to Jane at the end on the novel in such an unlikely way, though I've never doubted that that marriage would be happy. But you're right, the more likely marriage to Rivers, which would have been unhappy, would have made an excellent volume II. It is surprising that there are not more modern spin offs or alternatives to Jane Eyre as there are of Pride & Prejudice.

Jane Badger said...

I agree that Mr Rivers would have made for a more interesting book, but I can't think that Jane would ever have married him. If she had, I think she'd have left him in whatever missionary fastness he spirited her off to and tramped back to England and Mr R.

As for headbanging, Andre Gide's Jerome and Alissa in La Porte Etroite are the worst.

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