Sunday Salon: Are happy endings passe?

The Sunday

Are happy endings passe?

I just finished reading John Grisham's "The Appeal" and even though it was well written and an excellent story that captures your attention,  the bad guy wins.  There have been a few books I've read in the past year in which the ending were totally dissatisfying.  Made me want to throw the books across the room in disgust.  As I got closer to the end, I'm expecting a happy resolution to at least some part of the story. But no....  
What was interesting about the story?   Long story short:  Mr. rich guy with a chemical plant in a small town has been illegally dumping for years and tainted the town's drinking water.  Lots of people get sick and the corporation gets sued.   The husband and wife small town lawyer duo take on the big corporation, practically bankrupting themselves in the process and win a judgment in favor of their client for 41 million dollars.  The corporation appeals of course to the Mississippi supreme court.  Here's the interesting and devious part.   Mr. rich guy decides they need a friendlier judge on the court who will vote in their favor and dismiss the suit.  
In Mississippi, the judges are elected, not appointed.  He orchestrates, behind the scenes of course, the grooming of a young lawyer to run and oust the female judge.  Throws millions of dollars toward getting this guy elected, including smear television ads.  Meanwhile the small town lawyers are debt up the wazoo and behind in their mortgage payments to the bank.  Mr. rich guy gets another rich guy to buy the bank and then has the new bank owners demand immediate payment of  their loan or they'll foreclose.  Very manipulative....
Anyway, his hand picked guy wins the election and in the end has the deciding vote when the case come up to the court.  Unfortunately, the hand picked guy's kid  gets majorly beaned by an aluminum baseball bat and brain damaged.  Major wake up call for him, but it's a bit too late. After he reluctantly agrees to vote in favor of dismissing the case,  he's disgusted, he's done  and takes a leave of absence.  The small town lawyers are bankrupt, the plaintiff gets nothing, people are still sick and dying and the town is left with having to truck in clean water because they can't drink theirs.   At the end, the rich guy sails happily away on his yacht.  Blah!  
Remember the movie, Wag the Dog?  This book sort of reminded me of that.   Manipulating the press, people, deliberately creating false news and misleading people.  Unfortunately, I can see that happening in real life.  Not that I bury my head in the sand, but I read for entertainment, to escape.  I read many different types of books - paranormal, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, romance and classics.   I like books that make you stop and think, expand your mind or expose you to a different way of looking at things.  But in the end, I like happy endings, I like justice to be served.    I like characters with moral fiber, strength and integrity.  I like to feel some satisfaction at the end of a story. Don't you?


  1. Great post. I do like happy endings, but sometimes i'm fine if there is no happy ending to the story.

  2. Hummm. Good question. No, I don't think I necessarily go for the happy ending. I like satisfaction, but that doesn't always equal happy. Actually, I don't mind a ending that leaves me hanging -- as long as it is well done.

  3. Are happy endings passe?

    I don't know, but I'd sure like to read a book or two with a happy ending. And not a fake-y ending, either. A genuine happy ending. Hopeful.

  4. Maybe for John Grisham, but for the rest of us, no. :)


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