Susan Higginbotham recently (well, fairly recently) posted on her favourite novel endings. I’ve been a bit slow to get round to posting mine, but here are ten that I especially like, in no particular order. These are the ones that (a) came to mind immediately and (b) that I’d remembered correctly when I checked them, which indicates that it was the words that formed the lasting impression rather than the mental image.
Feel free to join in!
It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.--Watership Down, by Richard Adams
‘You needn’t worry about them,’ said his companion. ‘They’ll be all right – and thousands like them. If you’ll come along, I’ll show you what I mean.’
He reached the top of the bank in a single, powerful leap. Hazel followed; and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.
I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor; the middle one grey, and half-buried in heath; Edgar Linton’s only harmonised by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff’s still bare.--Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in
that quiet earth.
The ripples spread, and faded: Saltash came to a stop, tugging gently.--The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas Monsarrat.
‘Got her cable, sir!’ Allingham called out to the bridge.
Ericson drew a deep breath, stretching a little under his duffle-coat. That was all..... Over his shoulder he said:
‘Ring off main engines.’
(This is a cheat on my part, because the actual end of the novel is a couple of pages further on. But I always think of this scene as the end. I think it’s something to do with the crispness of a military command; four words that convey such a sweep of hidden meaning.)
‘Because I want to; because I must; because now and for evermore this is where I long to be,’ said Mary.--Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier
He laughed then, and took her hand, and gave her the reins; and she did not look back over her shoulder again, but set her face towards the Tamar.
For that time it was Lancelot’s fate and Guenever’s to take the tonsure and the veil, while Mordred must be slain. The fate of this man or that man was less than a drop, although it was a sparkling one, in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea.--The Once and Future King, by TH White
The cannons of his adversary were thundering in the tattered morning when the Majesty of England drew himself up to meet the future with a peaceful heart.
The light grew stronger as they waited.--Busman’s Honeymoon, by Dorothy L Sayers.
Quite suddenly, he said, ‘Oh, damn!’ and began to cry – in an awkward, unpractised way at first, and then more easily. So she held him, crouched at her knees, against her breast, huddling his head in her arms that he might not hear eight o’clock strike.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.--The House at Pooh Corner, by AA Milne
The black-on-black eyes stared imploringly at Brutha, who reached out automatically, without thinking. . . and then hesitated.--Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett.
HE WAS A MURDERER, said Death. AND A CREATOR OF MURDERERS. A TORTURER. WITHOUT PASSION. CRUEL. CALLOUS. COMPASSIONLESS.
‘Yes. I know. He’s Vorbis,’ said Brutha. Vorbis changed people. Sometimes he changed them into dead people. But he always changed them. That was his triumph.
‘But I’m me,’ he said.
Vorbis stood up, uncertainly, and followed Brutha across the desert.
Death watched them walk away.
‘The division seems rather unfair,’ I remarked. ‘You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit; pray what remains for you?’--The Sign of Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
‘For me,’ said Sherlock Holmes, ‘there still remains the cocaine-bottle.’ And he stretched his long, white hand up for it.
This was the manner of the mourning of the men of the Geats,--Beowulf, translated by Michael Alexander
sharers in the feast, at the fall of their lord;
they said that he was of all the world’s kings
the gentlest of men, and the most gracious,
the kindest to his people, the keenest for fame.