What’s wrong with “happily ever after?”
When I was a little girl, I loved fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White because they all ended, “And they lived happily ever after.” For a children’s story, it’s expected. As an adult, I am told that there is no such thing as “happily ever after.” Adults are not supposed to believe this. After all, life isn’t a fairy tale, is it?
After all, when asked at her book club why Oprah never reviews romance, she replied that “happily ever after” doesn’t exist. I think that this is sad and an even sadder commentary on the negativity that exists in our world.
Romance is differentiated from other fiction because it offers a satisfying, “happily ever after” ending. Perhaps this is why it’s the long-lived, most sold form of fiction in the world. Most people, however, will not admit to reading it and book reviewers, literary snobs that they are, will not recognize it.
I find that I have to defend myself for writing about love and happy endings. Isn’t this what most people strive for in real life? Dating, engagements and weddings are big deals because they offer a future filled with romance and hope. “Cute” meets and fairytale weddings abound. Popular music is filled with the trials and tribulations of love. Velentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays next to Christmas. Yet, people don‘t want true love acknowledged and celebrated in their books. When was a romance on the top of the bestseller lists?
Nicholas Sparks has made the bestseller lists, his books transformed into film and he’s been celebrated. Yet, the only thing that differentiates him from the usual romance writer is that he is a male and that his books have tragic endings. You won’t find a “happily ever after” but a sad outcome. Sad is acceptable while happy is not. I don’t get it. Sad gets acknowledged, lauded and promoted.
Literature is accepted as fine art because the subject matter is dark, deviant, full of angst and trauma, of abuse and/or physical and mental conditions and issues. Romance is dissed because it deals with human emotion, relationships, falling in love and has that happily ever after.
If I want to read about degradation, violence and sadness in our world, I’ll just pick up the newspaper. If I want to see it on screen, I’ll watch the news. I prefer my entertainment to be hopeful, joyful, entertaining and with a happy ending. I love “happily ever after.”
As for “real” life, I’m a romantic. I have a plaque in my office that reads, “It’s never too late for happily ever after.”
I believe it.