Monday, October 04, 2010

The Book of Dreams Ending

From time to time, readers email me to say they are unhappy with the ending of The Book of Dreams because it isn't clear what Dana and Jean choose to do at the end. Now I'm not calling anyone thick, because you couldn't possibly read a 700 page book if you were, but I do have to say there's a failure to think here. (I blame television.) All the clues are right there in the Postscript:
1) It's a year and a day later. Throughout the series it is repeated that a year and a day is the time period for ending a spell or enchantment. Ok, that one is subtle and could be missed.
2) Grandfather won't go to bed and is gazing out the window into the night as if he's expecting visitors. Ok, this could be cancelled out by Roy saying they've made their choice, we've got to let them go, but who's the medicine man here and knows more than everyone else in the book? Yes, Grandfather.
3) Roy has a dream that he's playing soccer in the Northern Lights with Jean and Dana and then he plummets out of the sky, like a falling star. "Did the others fall with him?" asks the book. Ok, I don't answer the question, but doesn't asking it give a pretty big hint?
4) Finally - and could this be more obvious? - Roy wakes up to the sound of voices talking and laughing outside, feet crunching on the snow, and then a knock on the door. Ok, you could argue this might be two Mormons or the Avon Lady, but then why is Roy jumping out of bed, pulling on his jeans and yelling with excitement? Hmm?
A failure to think, that's what it is. To quote my beloved CS Lewis's Professor Digory, "I wonder what they do teach them at these schools." (Photo credit: Wolf Summer, Norwegian film)

3 comments:

A. Barone said...

You know, I totally understand both points of view. When I first read the ending I felt cheated...I wanted to actually see that reunion. I wanted to hear the adventures that they had during the year and the day. Because all that was missing I felt cheated.

Now, after reading the book for the fourth or fifth time I realize that the ending is perfect the way it is. It's short enough to wrap things up nicely but all those unanswered questions that I had don't need to be answered.

They made their choice and that's all us readers really need to know at the end.

OR Melling said...

Ah but A Barone, the book would have been another few hundred pages if I had included the adventures of the year and a day! I'd have tied of exhaustion. You know, I actually ended it without the Postscript and my first reader (young son of my Canadian editor)plus my editor herself threatened to murder me if I didn't say more. I think writers should leave gaps for the reader's imagination to fill. Reading, as well as writing, is a creative act.

Stone said...

Oh, to look through your blog and to find a post like this makes me smile. I of course thought the same thing. "What, that's it!?".
However I believe that I can laugh at my self, because I never asked 'what did they do in the year and the day?' the only thought that rang through my mind was "is it them?!".
Of course with a bit of age and re-reading, I've found the ending to be absolutely perfect.

I found it so amusing to find this on your blog O.R. You have made a once young reader find answers to quite a bit of pondering.

Thank you,
p.s.
I'm looking forward to put a new book to my collection of your work.