Thursday 31 July 2008

Famous Last Words

I do believe it's Thursday, and thus Booking Through Thursday time. This week's question:

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

This is going to be a tricky one to answer without giving away plot details... also tricky because I can't think of any off the top of my head... I do think the last line of Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker is very moving, but it has to be read in context, as it's simply ' "Miss Hargreaves... Miss Hargreaves..." '. You'll have to trust me on that one. I also love the final line of Woolf's To The Lighthouse: 'Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision'. Lengthier, and more famous perhaps, is that from Northanger Abbey. Our Jane doesn't go for short sentences, mind you...:

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well ; and professing myself, moreover, convinced that the General's unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

As usual, over to you! More difficult than opening lines, isn't it?


  1. Yes, the final sentence is a difficult one to remember, but the ending, the summing up of a good book is an "Ah" moment.

  2. My current favourite is "A short walk in the Hindu Kush" by Eric Newby. Eric and his friend Hugh Carless decide to explore/climb in the Hindu Kush, and have many adventures and some pretty hairy climbs. At the end of the book they meet Wilfred Thesiger in a mountain village, eat a meal with him, and settle down to sleep. Out come their airbeds, and they start to blow them up.
    (here it comes.......)
    'God, you must be a couple of pansies,' said Thesiger.
    Wallop. That's it. End of book.

  3. I love the sketch that accompanied this post - it made me chuckle.

  4. **spoiler**
    In the last few sentences of Angels and Demons, Vittoria Vetra asks Robert Langdon if he has ever had a divine experience. When he replies in the negative, Vittoria strips and quips, "You've never been to bed with a yoga master, have you?"
    That is my favourite last sentence...

  5. "And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there--the melancholy craving in his heart--because the sun was like enchantment on his face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind's rustle was so gentle, and the yew tree green so dark, and the sickle of a moon pale in the sky.

    He might wish and wish and never get it--the beauty and the loving in the world!"

    last lines of the Forsyte Saga. Many people have mixed feelings about this book, so have I, but these last lines reflect so perfectly the sadness and melancholy of Soames, who I always felt a great deal of sympathy for

  6. Sorry I am back again:

    And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

    this one has just GOT to be one of the best

  7. "il faut cultiver notre jardin" is not a bad one.

    This is me just showing off, but even my daughter has just read Candide and might even have enjoyed it!

  8. (My first comment here, hello.)

    I have always remembered the last line of The Birthday Boys, Beryl Bainbridge's novel about Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole:

    And oh, how warm it was.

    Also a Dutch novel by Helen Knopper read a long time ago; I don't remember the title and I didn't like the book, but I loved the last sentence, about the air outside the window being very still and solid(?):

    Hij kon er zo instappen. [= He could step right into it.]

  9. I always seem to mention To Kill A Mockingbird when these things come up, and I know you're about to read it, so I don't want to spoil it.
    So I won't give anything away - but it ranks as probably my favourite last line. Either that or Agatha Christie's Peril at End House - which makes no sense out of context, since (I paraphrase) it's that a particular painting is worth a lot of money.

  10. The last line of "The Book Thief" is pretty good, and rings in the ears for a long time. Death: "I am haunted by humans."

    The only other that springs to mind is probably a crime to mention on here since it is by Terry Pratchett (in "Mort")... And interestingly is also said by the personification of Death - what is wrong with me?! Mort is the name of Death's apprentice. At the end they are parting ways and don't want to say goodbye. The book ends with Death saying, "I prefer au revior". Aha ha ha. On so many levels. Sorry.

    If I hadn't packed all my books I'd fish out some others, I love last lines.

  11. Another wonderful last line is in John Lanchester's The debt to pleasure, which has probably one of the most startlingly unlikeable heroes in fiction, Tarquin. SPOILER ALERT!! Tarquin feeds a fatal mushroom dish (on purpose) to some guests......"I turned and walked back up to the house. By the time I got there the murdered couple had gone around the corner onto the main road, leaving behind them a slow cloud of settling dust".


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