Warner, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
, Nicholas Sparks moves on from his beloved classic
, which featured Allie and Noah Calhoun, to the next generation. Wilson Lewis has been married to their daughter Jane for almost thirty years, but their relationship has become sterile, in marked contrast to the well publicized (amongst family members) romance between Jane's parents.
hough Wilson realizes that he has hurt Jane badly by forgetting their 29th wedding anniversary, it takes him a while to understand the enormity of the damage, not only from that particular incident but from a kind of benign neglect over their years together. It was '
the final blow in a long, long series of careless missteps
' that began with a courthouse wedding rather than the full church ceremony and celebration that Jane craved.
ilson is an estate lawyer, a full partner in the firm of Ambry, Saxon and Tundle in New Bern, North Carolina. While his dedication to his career has put bread on the table and the kids through college, it has also kept Wilson from being a full participant in family life. When he wonders what to do, he gets an answer, indirectly '
in typical southern fashion
' from his father-in-law Noah (Allie has died and Noah spends his days in the gardens of the Creekside Extended Care Facility). Noah's doctors and many family members consider him delusional but Wilson wonders.
is the story of a man who, in mid-life, has enough smarts to recognize a significant inadequacy in himself. He then puts as much effort into re-inventing himself and regaining what has been lost from his life, as he put into achieving his law partnership. Parallel to this plotline is another tale, that of a remarkable love (between Noah and Allie) that transcends the death of one partner.
long the way, the author makes a few comments through his characters that resonated strongly with me. The first was Wilson's musing about the misconception '
that the first year of a child's life resembles a Hallmark commercial
'. I also found those early sleepless years difficult and appreciated hearing someone else say so! And, when later Noah and Wilson comment on the unnecessarily lurid nature of some current television programs, I can't say that I disagree with that either.
is a lovely, involving tale. Though I glimpsed the misty outlines of its outcome early on, I still needed a box of Kleenex to complete the journey through its pages. Sparks is a past master at drawing real, feeling characters, and at drawing out his readers' emotions.
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