J.K. Rowling recently announced that she made a mistake with the way she chose to wrap up the Harry Potter saga. "For reasons that have very little to do with literature," she initially paired Ron with Hermione, and in the final book, she wrote that the two ended up together as adults. "It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility," Rowling said in a recent interview conducted by Emma Watson for Wonderland magazine.
We're not sure how we feel about authors dreaming up revisions to their books once they've already been published and released to readers. A recent Washington Post article titled "J.K. Rowling, please keep Harry Potter revisionist history to yourself" seems to agree.
Still, it's enjoyable, as readers, to imagine alternate universes in which beloved characters have better romantic fates. What if Isabel Archer had taken Casper Goodwood up on his offer to help her flee her rotten, loveless marriage? What if Jo had chosen Laurie, who was so obviously her soul mate? What if Katniss had picked Gale, because, seriously? Peeta?
Here are 9 relationships in books that we wish had turned out differently:
Jo and Professor Bhaer from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women
Professor Bhaer is great; he's humble and helps Jo with her manuscript, showing that he's kind and selfless -- qualities Jo was raised to value. Still, Jo and the equally strong-willed Laurie are kindred spirits. Jo seems to pick Bhaer as a way of demonstrating her quirkiness and individuality rather than because he's actually the best fit.
Katniss and Peeta from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series
Peeta is also great. He's kind towards Katniss, and helps her out when she's stressed about the Games. But Gale, her childhood friend, seems to have more in common with Katniss. He's tough and principled. Gale is essentially part of Katniss's family. They know each other incredibly well, and engage in charming banter.
Daisy and Tom from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
Daisy makes a cowardly move by choosing Tom over Gatsby, who, in spite of her flightiness, she seems to prefer. Tom is a bully, physically and emotionally, and Gatsby overtly, if flamboyantly, demonstrates his devotion to her. They may both be a little shallow in their pursuits and values, but that's exactly why they would have been a good pair. Plus, if Daisy had expressed her interest in Gatsby, the book's fatal ending might have been avoided.
Isabel and Gilbert from Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady
Gilbert Osmond, the manipulative and withholding do-nothing that Isabel is conned into marrying, is seriously the worst. She picks him in spite of being pursued by much more eligible suitors, including the candid and tenacious Casper Goodwood. When he hears of her unhappy marriage, he persists in his affections, but Isabel's chooses her commitment to mothering her stepdaughter over her own happiness.
Marianne and Colonel Brandon from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
Marianne is flippant and incredibly emotional, which is why she falls so hard for John Willoughby. She values their similar tastes in books and music -- an attribute she seems to rank above almost anything else. She continues to act rashly, and in the end, his equally rash nature leaves her empty-handed. Meanwhile, the kind and devoted Colonel Brandon chases after her, and is largely ignored until she finally comes around. Colonel Brandon is much older and more mature than Marianne, making them an odd match. She'd be better suited with someone closer to her in age.
Tess and Angel from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles
First of all, what kind of guy thinks less of a girl for having been abused? Apparently the same kind of guy who marries her sister after she dies. Even when Tess kills the man who raped her, Angel is incredulous, and hesitant to devote himself to her. When the police find out that Tess has committed murder, she says, of Angel, "now I shall not live for you to despise me." This could probably have been avoided if she had only fallen in love with someone more understanding.
May and Newland from Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence
Newland is immediately entranced by Countess Ellen Olenska, who shuns society's stodgy rules. He, on the other hand, feels compelled to follow social norms and marry the young, innocent and wealthy May. After a lot of heartbreaking back-and-forth, he chooses to stay with May when she announces to him that she's pregnant. Decades later, he visits Paris, where Ellen lives, and doesn't even say hello! This book is riddled with devastating missed opportunities. Ugh. Newland and Ellen would have been so good together!
Clarissa and Richard from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway
The fact that Clarissa wonders about not one, but two potential love interests seems to show that she and Richard aren't exactly the best match. Not only is she curious about how her life would have been different if she'd ended up with Peter Walsh, who'd once proposed marriage to her, but also her childhood friend, the feisty Sally Seton. We'd have loved to see Sally and Clarissa reconnect!
Charles and Sebastian from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited
There's some debate as to whether or not this pair had a romance, since it's only alluded to within the book. Still, Charles is clearly charmed by Sebastian, and much of the reason he's attracted to Julia is because she so closely resembles Sebastian. Charles's relationship with Julia doesn't pan out so well, but maybe he should have ended up with her brother, about whom he said, "our naughtiness [was] high on the catalogue of grave sins."