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Leader: TOP TEN HAPPY ENDINGS; ON WORLD BOOK DAY WE BRING YOU..

THERE'S nothing like a bit of "happily ever after" to put a smile on your face.

So perhaps it's no surprise that a survey commissioned to mark World Book Day has revealed that when it comes to a good read, most of us prefer to see our main characters riding off into the sunset.

Which is good news for bestselling novelist Adele Parks - whose latest book is Husbands - as she only pens happy endings.

"Having lived with my characters for several months, I've always felt compelled to give them at least a happily near-future if not an ever after," she says.

"Readers deserve happy endings. There's enough grimness to deal with without my adding to it."

But what are our happiest happy endings? The survey of 1,500 people came up with a top 10 and here, Mirror book reviewer HENRY SUTTON takes us through them...

1 Pride And Prejudice

NOT surprisingly, Jane Austen's most famous novel came top by a mile.

When Elizabeth Bennet - played by Keira Knightley in the latest movie - agrees to marry Darcy and live happily ever after in his Derbyshire pile, Pemberley, every reader of any age breathes a sigh of relief. And then reaches for the tissues... Love wins in the end as the right woman gets her man.

2 To Kill A Mockingbird

HARPER Lee's classic tale of racism in the Deep South in the 30s features an innocent black man charged with the rape of a white girl.

Although the accused man, Tom, tragically dies, the sheriff realises the mistake and turns a blind eye when the real rapist is stabbed in a brawl.

3 Jane Eyre

CHARLOTTE Bronte's gothic love story finds shy governess Jane Eyre falling for her boss, the grumpy Mr Rochester, only to find he has a mad wife stuffed in the attic.

But when the wife dies in a fire, the way is clear for Jane to marry Rochester, except he has gone blind. The right woman eventually wins her man and, amazingly, his sight recovers after two years of marriage.

4 The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

MARK Haddon's award-winner, which was originally earmarked for children, features an autistic boy trying to solve the riddle of who killed the neighbour's dog with a garden fork.

In the course of his unusual investigations, he unearths numerous secrets and, eventually, develops a talent for maths and a desire to be a scientist. At the end of the book, his dad buys him a golden retriever.

5 Rebecca

DAPHNE du Maurier's story of obsessional love begins in a creepy mansion in secluded Devon and ends inthe sunny South of France.

Maxim de Winter's second wife is haunted by his late first wife, the once beautiful Rebecca.

Matters are made worse by the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who still holds a candle for Rebecca. It is not until Mrs Danvers is finally out of picture that Maxim and the second Mrs de Winter find happiness.

6= A Town Like Alice/ The Time-Traveler's Wife

THOUGH tying for sixth place, these books have very different endings.

A Town Like Alice, by Neville Shute, is a grand romance stretching between England, Australia and Japan.

Prim Englishwoman Jean hooks up with rough Aussie Joe. They settle in Alice Springs and open a shoe factory.

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, is a feelgood, life-afterdeath tale. Though he's dead, Henry informs wife Clare that he'll see her when she has reached the age of 82, which gives her something to live for.

8 A Room With A View

IT takes an age for anything to happen in EM Forster's gentle, Edwardian love story.

But long after they've returned from Flore n c e, t h e passion begins to flow between tight-lipped George and increasingly loose Lucy. They end up snuggling together in a carriage by the Med.

9 The Shadow Of The Wind

WRITTEN by contemporary Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon, this book is a puzzler.

Daniel and Bea marry and have a son. Fermin and Bernarda marry and have four sons, while Claire's marriage to a millionaire doesn't last and neither does her beauty. The happy ending is to do with not marrying for money...

10 Middlemarch

GEORGE Eliot's Victorian classic finds beautiful Dorothea hooked up with grumpy old codger Mr Casaubon, for much of this massive novel.

But finally when the old man dies, Dorothea is free to fall in love and marry handsome, loaded Will Ladislaw.

features@mirror.co.uk

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WINNER: Film version of Pride And Prejudice
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2006
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