No. 14: Nights in Rodanthe
One weekend a few weeks ago I decided to take a pass at a couple of chick-lit novels, just to see what it would be like. Nights in Rodanthe is short, and I was familiar with the film adaptation, so it was my first choice.
I haven’t read much in the third-person omniscient lately, so it took a bit getting used to, but Sparks’ writing is light and easy—”beach reading,” in the words of a co-worker—so it didn’t take long to fall into the story. Adrienne is a divorcée with three grown children and several grandchildren. Her only daughter, Amanda, has just become a widow. Despite the efforts of her mother and brothers, Amanda isn’t coping, and she isn’t recovering. She feels as though no one understands, because none of them have had to bury the one they loved. Adrienne decides it’s time to share a story that she’d kept from her kids since they were teens; she would tell it only to Amanda.
The major themes seem to be aging, screwing up, and second chances. We see Paul, our leading man, in the midst of a transition from a life of total selfishness and pride, towards an outward focus that isn’t quite selflessness. We don’t see the beginning or the end of his journey, but a few steps in the middle. Adrienne is living a life of loneliness, closed-off emotionally due to the pain of her divorce. The theme of screwing up touches her life also, but through her husband, not her own decisions. Her path leads to her learning how to open up emotionally again.
The characters are wholly believable, if a little perfect; the perfection is acceptable though, because we don’t see their mistakes, only the correction course. As I said, Sparks’ writing is light, and a bit fluffy. It was easy reading, though at times too descriptive. In my opinion it qualifies as purple, but my wife (along with millions of other women) thinks it’s wonderful. Once he got into the action, it was a faster read than any of the books I’ve read lately, and has a fairly surprising and satisfying conclusion. The experience was decent, helped along by its brevity.