For instance, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, where poor Fantine has to sell her teeth, hair and just about everything else to keep her illegitimate child from the street - and then dies without even SEEING the kid! Here is how the plot should have gone. Fantine made some mistakes, went through some rough times. But then she got married to Jean Valjean, got her kid back, and lived happily ever after. As for the creepy policeman and the mean foster-mother, they both got their heads chopped off quite early in the piece, and serve them right.
Or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series. Wouldn’t it have been so much nicer (if a bit unhistorical) if Anne Boleyn had said to Henry VIII one day, “You know that thing I said about having to get married before we can have sex? Well, I’ve changed my mind - I’ll be your mistress, but only if you issue an edict saying no more people are to be tortured or burned at the stake. What do you say?”
Or… Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, etc). Practically anything he wrote could have been improved by the following lines, “So, that’s your dreadful secret. Fair enough. Doesn’t sound so bad to me. Let’s just turn the page and move on, shall we?”.
How about Twilight? I’m treading on thin ice here, seeing as I haven’t yet read it, but I have seen the movies and I don’t see why it couldn’t have all been sorted out like this. “I drink blood, you’re hairy. Takes all sorts. Anyway, it’s not like Bella’s the only gloomy gothic schoolgirl in town.”
Can anyone think of a better ending for their favourite tragic romances/thrillers etc? Or - are the tears all part of the fun?
(Jane Thomson blogs at butimbeautiful.wordpress.com and is the author of Deeper and A Warm Wind, both on Amazon).