In this second part of my Sentimental Simon blog post, I examine books I have cried at.
Perhaps it is less common to cry at books than films, but because I find a good novel so immersive, there have been a number of occasions when tears have been provoked. Here are five examples, in no particular order (warning – some spoilers):
Life of Pi – The ambiguous epilogue, where Pi converses with the Japanese insurance people who want to get to the bottom of what really took place at sea, brought a tear to my eye when I read it. The prose is subtle, but the trauma Pi feels, not to mention the grief at having lost his family, is quietly devastating.
One Day – Anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one out of the blue will relate to the aftermath of the shocking, out-of-left-field death in the final act of this romantic and often funny novel (avoid the anaemic film version, by the way). Tears were forthcoming.
The Kite Runner – Flippantly referred to as the Afghan Great Expectations, as with One Day, I recommend reading the book rather than seeing the film. One scene in a hospital late in the novel (a sequence inexplicably removed from the film), leads to the protagonist crying hysterically. And me, whilst I read it.
Watership Down – This story is a landmark trauma event for most people from my generation, largely because of the notorious animated film version (one commenter on Mark Kermode’s blog memorably described it as “a one-way ticket to post traumatic stress disorder”). But it was the novel that first made me weep, especially the epilogue, when Hazel essentially passes into the rabbit afterlife.
The Lord of the Rings – It is all but impossible to explain the profound impact this novel had on me the first time I borrowed it from the school library, not to mention every subsequent time I read it. Although I had read The Hobbit, nothing prepared me for the emotional impact of the final chapters of The Lord of the Rings. After everything our heroes go through, on their many adventures, their ultimate partings were almost too much to bear.
Here are three brief excerpts to give you an idea:
“Farewell, my hobbits! You should come safe to your own homes now, and I shall not be kept awake for fear of your peril. We will send word when we may, and some of us may yet meet again at times; but I fear that we shall not all be gathered together ever again.”
“With that they parted, and it was then the time of sunset; and when after a while they turned and looked back, they saw the King of the West sitting upon his horse with his knights about him; and the falling Sun shone upon them and made all their harness to gleam like red gold, and the white mantle of Aragorn was turned to a flame. Then Aragorn took the green stone and held it up, and there came a green fire from his hand.”
“Then Elrond and Galadriel rode on; for the Third Age was over, and the Days of the Rings were passed, and an end was come of the story and song of those times. With them went many Elves of the High Kindred who would no longer stay in Middle-earth; and among them, filled with a sadness that was yet blessed and without bitterness, rode Sam, and Frodo, and Bilbo, and the Elves delighted to honour them.”