Since it was Valentine’s Day on Thursday I thought I would make this week’s book review love themed, and who better to review than Nicholas Sparks? He is the author of The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and, as I will now introduce, The Wedding.
Most people have heard of The Notebook and may have watched the film. What you may not know is that The Wedding is its sequel. ‘How?’ You may ask. Well, if you’ve watched the film The Notebook and not read the book, I’m going *spoiler* the ending – Noah and Ali don’t die, they have sex. Yes, that’s right, old people sex. The film company decided this wasn’t romantic enough so had them both float away in peaceful togetherness – I prefer Nicholas’s ending, but there we are. There are many differences between the book and film, so I let each stand on its own merit.
So now that revelation is over, I can explain that The Wedding is from the point of view of Wilson Lewis, the son-in-law of Noah and Ali. His marriage to Jane is over-shadowed by her parent’s amazing example of true love, and though he has worked hard to provide for his wife and kids, he suddenly becomes aware that their marriage is not as it used to be. The intimacy between him and Jane is gone and he is scared of losing her entirely. It’s a fantastic story of one man’s journey to make his wife fall back in love with him after years of marriage.
Noah is distinctly present, though suffering from old age, and Ali has passed away by this point, but ‘appears’ as a swan. Much to his children’s dismay, Noah believes her spirit has been passed into the swan he’s tamed at the old peoples’ home. A slightly odd side-story, but the fact that his love for Ali is still so strong is endearing, and makes the two novels entwine in a way they wouldn’t otherwise do. And then there’s the title wedding, which refers to the wedding of Jane and Wilson’s daughter. Being a spontaneous girl, she decides she wants to get married rather swiftly and takes Jane on a whirlwind tour of preparing a wedding. A rather poignant reminder that though weddings celebrate love, it requires time and energy to keep that love alive for the ongoing years.
Nicholas Sparks comes under a lot of attack with his novels because, though undeniably romantic, they raise unrealistic expectations of love, and are generally about white, middle-class, American, suburban couples. This novel does not deviate from that stereotype and is typically romantic, but as Mignon McLaughlin once reportedly said: “A successful marriage requires falling in love over and over again, always with the same person.” The Wedding shows you just that and though it is about white, American couples, that fact is universal. It also addresses the unrealistic expecations Noah and Ali’s love gave to their daughter for her own life. Their love was so special and unable to be copied.
Many men (or so I’ve been told) go through a ‘mid-life crisis’; some buy cars, some quit their job and change career path, and some, like Wilson, realise that their marriage isn’t as good as it could be. Wilson decides to put the effort back in, but being quite unromantic by nature (the opposite of his father-in-law), he turns to Noah for advice and seeks to give Jane the romance she’s always desired. Of course, as is Nicholas’s style, there is a mushy ending that makes you sigh in contemplation, but so what? Isn’t that the beauty of his writing? It makes you forget yourself for a little while and enjoy Wilson’s rescue mission of his marriage.