The Nicholas Sparks website includes the following quote: "Generally speaking, Nicholas Sparks sets out to write an easy-to-read, entertaining, original love story with a poignant ending, one that generates genuine emotion." He always fulfills that promise. The lovers seem to be a cross purposes. In this case, he is single and unattached, his life filled with friends and fun. She's in a long-term relationship. In fact, she has moved to Beaufort, North Carolina to be near her boyfriend. Even their dogs seem to be at odds, especially when her dog becomes pregnant.
What choices will be made?
A major criticism of the novel has been Sparks' use of a prologue and epilogue, each of which is in the present, eleven years after the main action. The criticism is not valid, for the prologue creates a sense of impending, but unnamed doom that heightens dramatic tension in the novel. Hints are dropped. He has brought flowers to his wife of eleven years at her workplace because they'd had an argument three months ago, the last time they had spoken and shared the same bed. As a child Travis asked his father to tell him stories with a surprise ending because these were the best ones.
Sparks said at a recent reading that he always knows the twist, the surprise which ends his novels, when he begins writing. This twist will, compared to his other emotionally charged novels, unleash a torrent of tears, Niagara Falls on steroids. But, the emotion will be emotionally cleansing for it involves a choice each of us is likely to face one day. How do we meet the curveball Life throws us from time to time? What choice will Travis make?
This is the stuff of serious romance novels. In just a few days-I'm not giving anything away; you know it will happen-Gabby and Travis fall in love. She resists with all her might, but the inexorable flow of the ocean is working against her. Shortly after meeting her, Travis "knew that the solitary journey he'd been on for years had somehow reached its end." Both know that snap decisions can be made, can be exactly right, and powerfully enduring.
Sparks was scheduled recently for a 7:00 p.m. book reading and signing. By 11:15 a.m. 15 people were already in line to secure a cared for their place in the signing line. One couple had driven 5 hours and arrived at 8:00 a.m.! Everyone was told to come back no later than 2:00 because Sparks would start speaking and signing about 3:00. By 2:00 nearly 150 were already in line, about 5 of them being men. By 3:00 when he began to speak, the line was snaking across the store. He indicated that about 6,000 books would be sold by the time he finished signing around 10:00 p.m.
Comments from a number of women outline the reasons why Sparks' novels and the movies made from them are so popular. "He always has a good story." "You get the message and it flows. He really understands women." "There is always a clear theme but he does not write to a formula." "It is remarkable that he seems so grounded after 12 books." Perhaps the most prescient comment was by the woman who noted, "Life gets turned around by someone, a catalyst, who melts the other person's wall." That is true here, but the catalyst is a bit surprising, even for Sparks.
Sparks provided an update to an adoring audience-a woman of indeterminate age gushed that he looked so buff, that he had clearly been working out. Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Chris Meloni, should be out in June 2008. Much of it was actually filmed on location on the North Carolina coast. His next book will be about a veteran and should come out next fall; he'll start writing in about a month. Dear John is most likely the next movie, but it has to start no later than March 1 due to an impending full strike in Hollywood. He will write a sequel to this novel.
Sparks continues to live in New Bern, North Carolina with his wife and 5 children. He is heavily invested in the life of the community. In addition to providing a track for the high school, which has won the state outdoor track title the last two years, he has begun a charter school for grades 3-8 with 200 students. He has written seven number 1 books. More than 50 million copies of his books are in print.