Nicholas Sparks, author of Message in a
Bottle and The Notebook (both also
reviewed on Myshelf.com) brings us Nights in Rodanthe, a story reminiscent of The Bridges of Madison
County by Robert James Waller. The story is told in flashback through the eyes of Adrienne Willis, a middle-aged
divorcee. When she agrees to watch over a bed and breakfast in Rodanthe, a quaint little town in North Carolina, she
meets Paul Flannery, also divorced.
Adrienne is an example of a classic housewife. She married and had three kids, but her husband left her for
another woman. She is saddled with the care of her chronically-ill father, and has no luck trying to date. Paul is a
classic work-a-holic husband/absentee father who amasses a virtual empire, yet cannot understand why his wife has
left him and his son has come to despise him. Each character finds solace and healing at Rodanthe, giving one another
a new take on life through their romance.
There are other storylines intricately woven into the story that give different perspectives on each character.
For instance, Paul Flannery is involved in a wrongful death suit for which he feels terribly guilty. With Adrienne's
guidance, he learns to see the other side and realizes that there is nothing he can do to ease the pain of the
grieving family. Meanwhile, Adrienne tells the story of her time in Rodanthe in an attempt to reach her
While Sparks' very detailed beginning adds depth to the characters, it can be a bit excessive, though he brings
each storyline to a close with at least some sense of resolution. Nights in Rodanthe brings home the point
that what is really important in life is not always material, but also emotional and spiritual; that to have the
love of just one person can transcend the sadness of an entire lifetime. For those who like bittersweet romances,
this book fulfills that need.
Reader of the audio book version is JoBeth Williams. JoBeth Williams, an acclaimed actress from such films as
The Big Chill and Poltergeist, brought the story of Nights in Rodanthe to life with her dazzling
voice and strong characterization. With each character, she showed grace and the ability to sense each vulnerability,
each nuance. Her delightful voice and exuberance shined throughout her reading of Nights in Rodanthe. I hope
that she comes to do more audio books, as she would be an asset to each one with her brilliant senses and