I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nicholas Sparks

We’ve reached the end of our Top Ten Series featuring my favorite authors:

#1: Nicholas Sparks

Considering that three of my favorite movies of all-time are based on novels written by Nicholas Sparks, you probably aren’t surprised to see that he’s also my favorite author.

But you might be surprised to hear me say that I don’t think he’s a great writer. I can’t tell you how many times he’s used the phrase “and all was right with the world” (or some variation of it) in his ten novels, but he does it so often that I just had to keep track in his latest effort, Dear John. For the record, he used it four times. And on more than one occasion, I’ve noticed inconsistencies in his use of point of view.

But Sparks makes up for all of this with his story-telling ability. He tells love stories—usually set on the coast of North Carolina. They aren’t hokey love stories about perfect people. In fact, most of them are beautiful tragedies about realistic characters—from all ages and stages of life—that most of us can relate to. I don’t know many people who haven’t fought back tears (or just let them flow) while reading The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, or A Walk to Remember.

His other, lesser-known novels are also relatable. Nights in Rodanthe is about a middle-age woman named Adrienne who is trying to pick up the pieces after her husband left her for a younger woman. The Guardian is about a 29 year-old woman named Julie who is dealing with life after her husband died at a young age. True Believer is about a man named Jeremy, a writer who meets a woman named Lexi while working on assignment in North Carolina—far from his New York lifestyle and he has to decide whether or not love is worth the risk of leaving the familiar behind. A Bend in the Road is about a man named Miles who loses his wife in a hit-and-run accident.

I’m a sucker for a good love story, but that’s not why I love Sparks’ novels so much. I love them because they are about real people dealing with real problems. And Sparks doesn’t allow those problems to be solved by having his characters fall in love. In fact, in most of his novels, at least one of the major characters dies prematurely and the other person is left trying to figure out how to cope with such a huge loss.

That’s what Theresa Osborne learned in Message in a Bottle. A year after Garrett dies, Theresa writes a letter to him that includes these words: “Even though I miss you greatly, it’s because of you that I don’t dread the future. Because you were able to fall in love with me, you have given me hope, my darling. You taught me that it’s possible to move forward in life, no matter how terrible your grief.” She finishes her letter, rolls it up, sticks it into a bottle, and casts it into the sea. And as she walks back to her car, she actually has a smile on her face.

I usually do too after I turn the last page of one of Sparks’ books.


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