I can’t believe it’s the weekend already!! (and many thanks to Megan for pitching in for me on Tuesday…hopefully now that deadlines are looking reasonable again, and warm weather is here, I won’t go down in my writing hole quite so often…). And Happy Easter to everyone, too.
I got an early spring present this week–author copies of the May Harlequin Historical release, The Taming of the Rogue! I am very excited about this book–it’s my Elizabethan theater/playwright/spy story. Plus it has a gorgeous gown on the cover. I covet it–deeply. If you would like a sneak peek at the story, I’m having a contest to win a copy until Tuesday. (or check back here at the end of this month when I chatter on about it some more…)
In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on my reading. I just finished Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. (and no, I don’t have any kids–I just always seem compelled to read any book that tells me how to be more French). Among lots of other interesting (and practical) info, she has a great take on the difference between American and French children’s books:
In the American books, there’s usually a problem, a struggle to fix the problem, and then a cheerful resolution…Lessons are learned and life gets better.
Whereas in French stories, There’s a problem, and the characters struggle to overcome that problem but they seldom succeed for very long. Often the book ends with the protagonist having the same problem again. There is rarely a moment of personal transformation, when everyone learns and grows.
One of her daughter’s favorite books involves two little cousins, Eliette (who is bossy) and Alice (who is passive). One day Alice kicks Eliette to the curb, deciding she has had enough. Eliette begs her pardon, Alice takes her back–then Eliette jabs her with a needle again. The end.
Life is ambiguous and complicated. There aren’t bad guys and good guys. Each of us has a bit of both. Eliette is bossy, but she’s also lots of fun. Alice is the victim, but she also seems to ask for it, and she goes back for more. We’re to presume that Eliette and Alice keep up their little dysfunctional cycle, because, well, that’s what a friendship between two girls is like. I wish I had known that when I was four, instead of finally figuring it out in my thirties.
Also–there is a lot of nudity and love in French books for four-year-olds. She has a book about the romance between the boy who accidentally pees in his pants and the little girl who lends him her pants while fashioning her bandana into a skirt.
Now that is love.
I kinda like this idea of an ambiguous ending. It doesn’t mean everyone isn’t happy–it just means that this is life, and these people have learned to make a life together. Isn’t that what a romance novel ending is about? Two people who care enough about each other to stay the course no matter who pees in their pants? Why don’t we ever see that in the babies and bliss epilogues??
What are some of your favorite book endings? How did your favorite books turn out when you were four years old? (I had a picture book I loved about a princess with immensely long hair, who was always tripping up princes and courtiers and hapless hairdressers in those impractical tresses and finally had to trim it. I am not sure what that message is. Maybe my mom was just tired of making my French braids or something. I also loved Eloise, who dumped water down the mail chutes in the Plaza…)
Would you know it? I just finished reading Bébé, too, and have those portions underlined in my copy.
French books seem to end the way French movies end, though they get even more vague and even more un-resolution-like than children’s books.
However, the blame or fame for the origin happy ending rests more on Danish Hans Christian Andersen than on American culture and books. Disney simply made it mainstream Americana.
I really liked Bébé and I wish she’d written this book before I had my little one. It would’ve prevented mistakes that we knew intellectually, we shouldn’t make, yet fell into the trap of making, because we didn’t know how we could not do them.
Amanda, you must have been a mischievous little girl. I can just see you!
I really don’t like vague or unhappy endings. But I also don’t like endings where everything, as if by magic, turns out happy.
When I write my endings, I always like something to be left unresolved. The hero or heroine’s neglectful parents don’t miraculously become doting. The bad guy doesn’t necessarily get what he or she deserves. Things like that.
Happy Easter, everyone!!!!