Impossible Choices and Alternative Endings

quaispolar16Only a few more days to go before the Quais du Polar (Crime Festival) kicks off in Lyon and I am trying to create an events schedule. Really tough choices, as so many events I’m interested in are taking place at the same time in entirely different locations. So, let me ask you, what would you choose between:

  1. An Hour with Jo Nesbo       vs.     Women in Crime Fiction (with Sara Gran, Jax Miller, Dolores Redondo, LS Hilton, Philippe Jaenada)
  2. Urban Locations in Crime Fiction (with Donato Carrisi, Walter Lucius, Carlos Zanon, Richard Price and Michele Rowe)      vs.    New Wave Brits (JJ Connolly, Jessica Cornwell, SJ Watson, James Oswald, LS Hilton)
  3. An Hour with David Peace     vs.    Crime Fiction from Quebec
  4. An Hour with Arnaldur Indridason        vs.    New World/Old Continents (with Parker Bilal, Colin Niel, Caryl Ferey, Olivier Truc, Nairi Nahapetian)

The other topic which has preoccupied me this Easter weekend was alternative endings to much-loved classics. My younger son had to write a new ending to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which his class are going to be performing next week). He had Puck taking mercy on Titania and being punished for that by Oberon. Then Titania has a sword fight with Oberon and kills him for his cruelty, but the mortals rush away just in time for the Duke’s wedding. So he’s made a tragedy out of a comedy and left Titania to rule single-handedly over the fairy realm. Which shows he’s either a budding feminist or future crime writer, I suppose!

That had me wondering what endings I would like to see in some other favourites. An alternative Great Gatsby ending is too easy: just look at Tender Is the Night for what would have happened if Gatsby had married Daisy…

Most of the time, I have to admit that the writers of great classics did judge the endings perfectly and the books would have lost of some of their power if they had any different resolutions. However, there are a few exceptions (some of which will raise your hackles, no doubt):

  1. Jane Eyre:  I’d have run away from Mr. Rochester no matter what. Not realistic, perhaps, in those days.
  2. Rebecca: A civilised separation and a settlement to enable the second Mrs. de Winter to live somewhere quietly in a place of her choosing, with equally beautiful rhododendrons and a view of the sea.
  3. Anna Karenina: I’m not for a minute suggesting a happy ending here, but I do think that poor Anna suffers the punishment for adultery, while the men get off scot-free for the most part. I’d like both her husband and Vronsky to suffer, and for her son to grow up in a more loving environment, perhaps with Kitty and Levin.
The ultimate Anna in my eyes: Tatian Samoilova in the Russian version of the film.
The ultimate Anna in my eyes: Tatiana Samoilova in the 1967 Russian version of the film.


29 thoughts on “Impossible Choices and Alternative Endings”

  1. Sounds like it will be a great event. My choices – 1. Women in Crime Fiction. 2. Urban locations. 3. Crime fiction from Quebec. 4. Arnaldur Indridason 🙂

  2. Those choices are almost impossible, but I’d agree with janetemson’s choices above – particularly with Indridason, as I’ve enjoyed his series very much. As for the endings – I think Vronsky in particular should have suffered much, much more…..

  3. Some difficult choices here but I would definitely take the opportunity to see David Peace. He’s bound to have something interesting to say.

    1. It’s a hard life, having to make these exciting choices, isn’t it? I know I’m very fortunate, but because it’s my last year here, I feel I want to make the most of it!

    1. I want to see Nesbo in conference somehow, but am not sure the 1 hour thing is the best option. I have a love/hate relationship with his novels, some I really enjoyed, others not so much.

  4. The Nesbo event I attended was a bit of an ego trip to be honest. So …

    I reread Anna Karenina last year and I thought they all suffered – even the men. My sympathies lay with Karenin actually! I didn’t have much time for her by the end.

    1. But Karenin is so cold and dry… Even though Anna (like Emma Bovary) can be very annoying. And Vronsky can bounce right back! [Isn’t that the mark of a great classic, though, that it can have us arguing passionately about the characters and their fates?]
      As for ego trips, I know exactly what you mean, it can get a bit much when it’s a single author. I attended an event with James Ellroy 2 years ago and it was a bit like that – he is a consummate showman!

  5. Crime definitely not my forte so I can’t help you on the festival front… but love the idea of changing endings of classic novel … with JE it would definitely be Reader, I ‘didn’t’ Marry Him & a far better outcome for Bertha!

  6. Not a crime buff but I’d have to go for Women in Crime Fiction and Urban Locations in Crime Fiction. I think your son shows great promise, and what a nicely inventive assignment!

  7. I’ve always thought King Lear needs an alternative ending. Something simple like Cordelia and Lear do not die. Well, maybe Lear does but definitely not Cordelia.

  8. Oh, I do like speculating on endings like that, Marina Sofia! How very creative! And I see your son has inherited that creativity, too. Hmm…I’ll have to think about some alternative endings. That’s a really interesting topic, actually.

    As to the festival, I don’t envy you having to choose. As for me, I’d go for Women in Crime Fiction, Urban Locations, Crime Fiction From Québec, and an hour with Arnaldur Indriðason. But that’s what I’d do. All of the choices look great.

    1. I’m just discovering David Peace, have read only a little of him in the past, so it might be a good opportunity, but we’ll see…
      I’d love to hear your take on alternative endings. There’s a lot of Shakespeare I would like to change (Hamlet, King Lear, Othello), but of course, that would rob them of their power, so I suppose he knew what he was doing.

  9. Great post Marina Sofia! I’m no help at all for the Festival, they all sound fascinating and I completely understand your dilemma – a wonderful dilemma to have though 🙂 I completely agree with your Jane Eyre ending – she should stay well away from Rochester!

  10. Hi, to help with the choices, a single writer can veer to an ego trip or give deep insight into his personality and several writers can bend towards sound bites about their latest books or give interesting takes on a theme, I guess it depends on the moderators, if in doubt I’d check out that info too


    1. I thought about that, but the name of the moderators doesn’t mean much to me, unfortunately, since they are French TV and radio presenters or journalists that I am not familiar with.

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