It's always a let-down when a well-written and believable novel finishes with a totally contrived "happy ending". Probably because that's what the publisher wanted.
A book full of adultery, accidents, abortions and animosities magically terminates with all the festering problems conveniently resolved and everyone sailing on serenely. Pull the other one, it's got bells on.
The writer Winifred Holtby once said her idea of a happy ending wasn't one where everything comes right but one where the hero or heroine remains undaunted by things going wrong. I couldn't agree more.
The logic of the "happy ending" is fundamentally flawed. If the point is to encourage your readers and fill them with optimism, well, it may do that for five minutes, but then anyone with any intelligence will realise the contrivance and reflect that of course real-life is different.
If you want to encourage your readers, far better to depict someone who's been thrown the worst life can offer and has found the inner resources to deal with it and emerge stronger and more capable. Isn't that more inspiring than a bogus "all's well that ends well"?
A couple of months ago I read a typical "happy ending" novel. A women who's desperate for a child but can't get pregnant with her husband goes to bed with another man (married) and has his child. I assumed that once the truth got out (as it did) all hell would break loose and both marriages would be on the rocks.
But no. Very fortuitously the woman's husband doesn't mind a bit. And the other man happens to get killed. Everything wrapped up very neatly - except for the grieving widow, that is.
I'm sorry but a tricksy finale like that simply spoils the whole book for me. Life just isn't like that. If only they'd asked Winifred Holtby for the ending.