Nicholas Sparks, |
(Time Warner, 2003)
If you are unfamiliar with Nicholas Sparks, then perhaps you do not read romance novels. If you have read his books, then you know that he tends to write love stories that touch the heart. While the audiobook of The Wedding has its moments, this particular tale comes across more as a self-help book for guys who need pointers in rekindling an old romance than of a typical love story.
The Wedding begins with Wilson Lewis describing how he forgot his anniversary last year. It isn't that he doesn't love his wife Jane. In fact, he loves her more now than he ever has. But Wilson has never been able to show his true feelings, whether to his wife or his three kids. Instead, he spends his married life focused on his work while Jane is left with the household responsibilities, including the raising of the children. Now that the kids are grown, the forgotten anniversary may have been the last straw. Should she remain in a marriage to a man whose job is more important to him than his family?
If you have previously read The Notebook, then you know Jane's parents, Noah and Allie Calhoun. Allie has, by the timeframe portrayed in The Wedding, passed away. The love between these two, however, has remained strong in Noah -- ever the romantic. Wilson finds himself becoming Noah's most consistent visitor at the nursing home where Noah now resides. Wilson needs pointers on romance and will do whatever it takes to make Jane fall in love with him all over again. (If you read/listen to The Wedding, you just might be surprised at just how far he goes).
The audiobook for The Wedding is read by Tom Wopat. I remember him best as the dark-haired Luke on The Dukes of Hazzard. The character of Wilson is pretty low-key, almost monotone, and Tom has the perfect voice for him.
Now why would I say The Wedding is like a self-help book? Well, if you've read Who Moved My Cheese you have read a story about some mice. Within the story is the message that change happens; learn to deal with it. If you have read The Wealthy Barber, then perhaps through storytelling you learned to pay yourself first. In a similar vein, The Wedding gives you some common sense tips to romance wrapped up in a story. Make your lover your top priority. Do things the way your lover enjoys whether that is how you would do it or not. Leave little love notes. Say "I love you." Of course, I am paraphrasing, but these little tips continually pop up.
Are self-help stories a bad thing? Not at all. Most of us will remember a story, and ultimately the underlying message, much more easily than we would a sheet of paper with bullet points. The question for the reader of The Wedding should be whether they are looking for a romance novel or a self-help book. Those readers wanting the former might be a little happier with some of Sparks' earlier books. Those of you interested in the later might bypass the self-help section and head to romance because that is where this book will be mistakenly shelved (in my opinion).