Happy endings, the second time around
October 28, 2013 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm seeking fictional stories of second chances at love that work out successfully, but not the standard Act II breakup with a happy Act III resolution.

I'm looking for stories, preferably literature rather than modern fiction, but movies may suffice, where the protagonist and his/her great love get a second chance and it's successful. I'm not looking for the standard "Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl," but stories where the love and loss existed prior to the narrative, and the story is (at least partially) about overcoming whatever prior obstacles were there.

Jane Austen's Persuasion would be the quintessential example. Anne and Wentworth were a failed couple long before the story began, but it's largely a tale of them overcoming the odds. Thanks.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese to Human Relations (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What about Love in the time of Cholera?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:29 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund is a post-apocalyptic take on Persuasion.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:39 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel like Anthony Trollope does this a lot. Can You Forgive Her? is a good example, though the initial breakup occurs during / early in the narrative (because of circumstances that took place before the narrative begins).
posted by Mchelly at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2013

Jane Eyre comes to mind. It's not pre-narrative as you describe, but when she returns to Mr. Rochester in his diminished state, it's definitely a happy ending. The break/marriage debacle ends up being for the best because now they need each other equally, whereas before, she was his dependent. Makes for a better relationship.
posted by la_rousse at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, la_rousse, and I've read JE many, many times, and agree with your take, but it still fits the "Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl." I'm trying to avoid, in terms of narrative chronology. I'm really looking for something where the failure of the relationship (or the inability to get it off the ground) really pre-dates the narrative. A less powerful (than Persuasion) example of what I'm looking for might be Grosse Pointe Blank, where the high school romance is ten years in the past. Though, just to be clear, I'm looking for unrelievedly happy endings, which GPB isn't quite.

Please keep these coming. I'd forgotten Trollope, never heard of Peterfreund and needed the push to tackle Marquez. Thank you so much.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:01 PM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing really plays up the implications of Beatrice's line, "he (Benedict) lent it (his heart) me awhile, and I gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one." Here's an article that looks at how the play explores the past history of the two characters.
posted by bibliowench at 6:58 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Would High Fidelity fit the bill? Linking to the movie, because I haven't read the book to know whether both fit your criteria equally well.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb is modern, but fits your other criteria.

Very much not literature, but Holly's Inbox has this as a subplot.
posted by lunasol at 8:09 PM on October 28, 2013

Love in the time of Cholera, unless I'm remembering it wrong, as absolutely the boy meets/loses/gets girl trope. Just fyi.
posted by Dynex at 9:04 PM on October 28, 2013

You may be interested in some of the movies Stanley Cavell called comedies of remarriage. Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday in particular come to mind.

(I might be off-base, though, because I'm still not quite certain from your explanation above why Persuasion doesn't fit the mold. From what I remember, the original failed relationship does take place before the main action of the novel begins?)
posted by lettersoflead at 1:53 AM on October 29, 2013

(Argh, sorry, disregard that last bit above; I completely misread what you wrote and should not have responded while drowsy.
posted by lettersoflead at 2:31 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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