It was either a buy 3 free 1 or buy 5 free 2 sort of offer. I can't remember, but I ended up having quite a few novels by this best-selling author after that visit to the bookstore. I had heard of Nicholas Sparks, had heard of his books being made into movies and such, but had never read any of them. Not one (and never watched any of those movies either...). I could separate what I want to write into individual posts, 1 for each book, but well... what the heck!
A Bend in the Road
This was the first one that I read, and I thought it was quite good, though not something I'd read more than once, if I can help it. The plot was simple enough, unlike certain modern novels that favour storylines so complex that sometimes, halfway through, I had to trackback and re-read certain parts to refresh my memory of certain characters or events. The simplicity of the story made lots of room for vivid portrayal of characters. The development of the protagonists' feelings for each other were adequately presented, though it didn't move me to the point that I'd be eagerly anticipating their union. The theme in this novel, and perhaps in most of this author's works, is LOVE. Miles Ryan loved his wife, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident. It took him a long time, but eventually, he fell in love with Sarah Andrews. However, a dark secret from the past threatened to tear them apart, to stand forever between them. But, predictably, love conquered all in the end... (oops, sorry for the spoiler). The last part of the novel is a little wanting, but still, it is an enjoyable read, if you do not mind predictability and non-impressiveness.
Message in a Bottle
I enjoyed reading this one slightly more than the previous. The idea of the story itself was quite fresh, and I really like the romantic notion of finding love notes in bottles washed up on shores. I'd expected to be moved to tears reading the notes Garrett Blake wrote to his deceased wife, Catherine, but I wasn't. Somehow, I felt that the notes lack intensity and passion. I could not effectively feel the love, desperation, despair and yearning supposedly expressed by the writer through the notes. But of course, the main female character, Theresa Osborne, did, and her curiosity and interest in the mysterious writer compelled her to seek him out. It'd hardly be a spoiler for me to write that they eventually fell in love - yes, that was seriously predictable. The falling in love portion was rather brief, in my opinion, and a little less convincing compared to A Bend in the Road. The author focused on how Garrett thought Theresa was very pretty, and how she was greatly touched by the letters he wrote to his wife, and I thought those alone weren't reasons enough to fall in love - not as deeply as described in the book anyway. Nevertheless, it is still a nice read. (I am careful to make no mention of the ending here...)
A Walk to Remember
My third Nicholas Sparks! The title of the book itself is very touching. The synopsis printed at the back of the book was pretty touching too. The novel itself - GAH! It was written in the first-person voice, that of Landon Carter, and yet, totally failed to affect me - the emotional journey that he went through, and how his feelings towards the main female character, Jamie Sullivan, changed from indifference, to awkwardness, to LOVE. Reading the book, I fail to comprehend, even to imagined when or how Landon fell in love with Jamie. I only knew it because it was blatantly written so. To me, it was almost as sudden as if he woke up one morning and decided that he loved the girl to distraction, and decided he would unconditionally love her till the day he died! No, I didn't enjoy this read. I thought it was lame and predictable, and extremely fairytale-ish.
One word: CACAT. When I was halfway through the book, I can't believe I was still on the same novel, can't believe the direction it was going, and cannot imagine a book written like that could actually appeal as a love story! It starts off with the narrative of an old man - the reader wouldn't know who he is, or what he's getting to. Then, it skips to the "love story" of a young couple in the distant past, which basically centered on the events that occurred across a period of several days. (I noticed similarity in descriptions of lover-boy preparing a meal for lover-girl with Message in a Bottle) The reader knows the profoundness of their love because it was plainly stated repeatedly - the how or why is left to the reader's own imagination. Then, as abruptly as it began, the tale of the two young lovers ended, and the reader is again brought back to the present, through the narrative of the old man. And yes, as the reader would've guessed, the old man is the man of the story, Noah Calhoun, and this story is that of him and his wife, Allie Nelson. Granted, the love the old couple had was each other was very extraordinary and grand and all, and perhaps you could say I am too shallow to appreciate it, etc. Whatever. I just didn't like the way the book was written, regardless of the plot and idea. Not to mention the notebook, as the title of the novel is, plays an almost insignificant (and very negligible) role in it all.
In progress... at Chapter 7.
(edit: finished reading as of 25/8, will write about it soon)