Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
Don't ask me why I wanted to read Nicholas Sparks because there is no answer, but I just finished Message in a Bottle. I would never say that he isn't a good writer, because he is. His style is very engaging and I don't want to put down his books because his writing is so entertaining and heartfelt. He puts a lot of passion into his books and you can really sense that passion. I just wish he'd find a new premise, something he's never done before. Even if it meant having someone else help him develop the story. Anything to give him something new and original.
The premise of Message in a Bottle is this. Theresa vacations by the sea and finds a bottle with a love letter in it. Nothing unusual in that, I guess, except that it seems the woman being written to has died and the letter itself is so poignant it brings her to tears. Through a mishmash of circumstances Theresa tracks down 2 more letters written by the same author and each letter gives a little more information on where the writer might live. Sure enough, Garrett's letters are absolutely correct about his location: living in Wilmington, NC and owning a diving shop as well as a refurbished sailboat from the 1920s named Happenstance. She heads on down there to meet Garrett, probably with the intention of only meeting him and then leaving. One thing leads to another, they both like each other immensely, and by the end of her stay they are embroiled in an intimate relationship.
Of course, the relationship can't stay this way. Theresa is a columnist for a Boston magazine and she published Garrett's first letter in her column before she ever went down to meet him. Garrett naturally discovers this on a trip to visit her and all hell breaks loose. She's upset with him for not understanding and he's upset with her because she dared publish something as intimate as the letters he wrote to his deceased wife, Catherine. Let's just say that if you're expecting a happy ending, this is like every other Sparks' book I've read. In other words, there is no happy ending.
What I truly wish is that his books weren't so darn predictable! I correctly guessed which character would die and how it would happen and I wasn't even 50 pages into the book. I correctly guessed there would be turmoil when Garrett discovered that Theresa had his letters and I guessed that incident would play a part in the ultimate tragedy. I already knew the end so I just read the journey that would take me to the end. And that's really not very fun.
As to Garrett's character, I could almost have fallen in love with him myself. There's something disturbingly attractive about a man who has experienced tragedy and emerges as something of a grieving hero. Garrett is a wonderful man and watching him heal from his wife's death because of Theresa (probably the best thing she did for him) is special. But there would have been a much stronger impact had Nicholas Sparks not followed his normal routine of death.
Now I'll need to bring myself to watch the movie and see if they're at all comparable. Looking at the list of character names for the movie I can already tell they've changed a lot and I'm not a huge fan of Kevin Costner at the best of times. Again I ask myself, why am I doing this?! Because he's Nicholas Sparks and a part of me really wants to understand the draw.