Recap: What if you had a second chance at love? Would you know right away? How long would it take you realize this person was “the one?” Nights in Rodanthe begs these questions in typical Nicholas Sparks fashion. It tells the story of a divorcee, Adrienne, whose daughter’s husband just died. Seeing her daughter struggle in her mourning encourages her to tell her the story she’s kept secret for 14 years.
Years ago, Adrienne spent a weekend at her friend’s Inn in Rodanthe to get away from her children, sick father, and remarried ex-husband. It just so happened to be a weekend that her friend rented a room to Paul Flanner, a talented, respected doctor. As Adrienne spends time with Paul, she begins to realize she’s not the only one with baggage. Paul is also divorced. He has a poor relationship with his son and stopped at the Inn to meet a patient’s husband, who is angry with him about his dead wife.
It sounds confusing, but Adrienne and Paul find simplicity and comfort in each other. And in just a matter of days, they are brought together by fate and love. But making it last beyond that weekend is where the complexity comes back to bite them.
Analysis: As I mentioned above, Nights in Rodanthe is a Nicholas Sparks novel through and through. It’s a love story — a depressing one. It inevitably involves loss and illness. It’s also very predictable. But you know what? It’s still good.
Every once in a while, I need to read a book that lets me clear my head, live in a fantasy, and enjoy. And for that, this is the perfect book. Each part of the story is expected, but it’s fun to live in a romantic fantasy world in which love conquers all, helps you grow, etc, etc, etc.
A few interesting things to note about this particular Sparks novel is that it’s the love story of an older couple. Those extra years means more experience and more baggage. For Paul and Adrienne, this is their second shot at a happy-ending love story. Most of Sparks’ characters die or become ill or go to war before they have a second chance. It’s exciting to think that maybe when you are older and wiser, you know better and fall for the right person — whether the timing is off or not.
MVP: Paul’s son, Mark. Though he has a seemingly minor role in the story, Nights in Rodanthe virtually revolves around him. And despite his youth, he’s one of the strongest characters. He’s not weak like Adrienne, and he’s not selfish like his father. It’s his actions that resonate at the end of the book.