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The Choice    by Nicholas Sparks order for
by Nicholas Sparks
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nicholas Sparks brings fans another contemporary romance with a though provoking twist to it in The Choice. It starts with a one-sided clash between neighbors, after redheaded Gabby Holland - a physician assistant who has just moved into the house next door to Travis Parker's waterfront home in Beaufort, a small North Carolina town - blames his dog Moby for the pregnancy of her beloved pooch, Molly.

After Travis, the town veterinarian, explains why that would not be possible, a chastened Gabby retreats and tries to avoid him. But sparks have already ignited. Travis - who previously only entered into casual relationships that always fizzled, 'petering out like a soggy fuse on a firecracker' - enjoys his bachelor life, despite the fact that his three best friends from kindergarten are happily married with kids. Now, he ardently pursues Gabby. She finds herself falling hard for this 'flirty hunk' too, despite the fact that she moved to the area to be closer to her steady boyfriend Kevin.

Gabby, who has always played it safe, has felt something missing in her relationship with Kevin, his idea of a good time being a round of golf. She becomes entranced by Travis, who deals swiftly and competently with a canine emergency, takes her parasailing, and teaches her to ride a motorcycle. Gabby likes his sister Stephanie too. Their courtship is 'a tantalizing dance' and Travis wonders 'if a dance like that could go on forever.' Of course, he and Gabby marry, settle down, and raise two little girls, Christine and Lisa.

So far, so good - a regular romance, with somewhat unusual, but always appealing leads - we expect them to live happily ever after. Then the author makes clear that something has gone badly awry, keeping up the suspense about what it is. He introduces his big question, 'how far should you go in the name of love?' In this context, it's a tough one and readers will have varying answers to it, from their own perspectives. As always, Nicholas Sparks touches readers' hearts and minds with The Choice.

Audiobook Review by Mary Ann Smyth (Rating:1):

I have always liked Nicholas Sparks' work, but was disappointed in The Choice, which I feel doesn't measure up to his previous novels.

Perhaps I was put off by the narration. Reader Holter Graham is not new to reading for CD, having read The Serial Killers Club, Detour and Dear John previously. While the story is very predictable, the rendering makes it even more so. Graham's voice was lackluster, almost a monotone. I understand that the book did not have too many hills or valleys, but a little more emotion would have added greatly to the enjoyment of the story.

The ending of this love story could have gone either way and I must admit I rooted for the not so predictable denouement.

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