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ABOUT "THE WEDDING"

Publishers Weekly
The wistful, reflective tone of Sparks's newest love story shines through in Wopat's competent telling, but his characterizations, particularly of the book's Southern-bred females, are hampered by the deep tenor of his voice and his accent-less approach. However, his portrayal of methodical attorney Wilson Lewis is spot on. Realizing for the first time that his "innocent neglect" has led his relationship with his wife of 30 years to become stale, Wilson decides to court her. Unfortunately, he doesn't know how or where to start. Enter Noah Calhoun, Wilson's sage-like father-in-law, whose picture-perfect romance is depicted in Sparks's 1996 debut, The Notebook. Wilson now lives in a home for the elderly and spends his days watching over a swan that he believes holds his late wife's spirit. With Noah's patient guidance, and with the wedding of Wilson's daughter fast approaching, Wilson learns how to be the husband his wife deserves. Snippets of music announce the beginning and end of each chapter and complement particularly emotional moments. While this sweetly sentimental audio may be too subdued for a long, tiring drive, it will satisfy listeners looking for a calming nighttime diversion. Simultaneous release with the Warner hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 11). (Sept) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
As his daughter's wedding looms, Wilson Lewis-son-in-law to The Notebook's Noah and Allie-decides that he must patch up his own marriage. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

AudioFile
Tom Wopat depicts Wilson Lewis's crumbling relationship with his wife, June. Using strong characterizations, Wopat seamlessly switches from male to female roles as June grows to believe that her twenty-nine-year marriage is over. Instead of arguing when Lewis forgets their wedding anniversary, Wopat shows June's depression through sighs, half-uttered sentences, and flat tones. Lewis truly loves June, and, with the same devotion he gives to work, he now sets about winning back his wife. This intense love story portrays the dilemma of feeling taken for granted by the most important person in one's life and ends with a dramatic twist that brings a smile. G.D.W.
AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine

ABOUT "A BEND IN THE ROAD"

Publishers Weekly
Sweet, accessible, uplifting and predictable, the latest love story from Sparks (The Notebook) leaves the reader with just one burning question: Why is this consummate beach book being published in the fall? The nearly thwarted but eventually triumphant romance of deputy sheriff Miles Ryan and second-grade teacher Sarah Andrews goes down as easily as marshmallow fluff and offers about as much real nourishment. Miles's high school sweetheart, Missy, was killed in an unsolved hit and run accident, leaving him to raise their son, Jonah, in New Bern, N.C. Sarah's politically ambitious husband, Michael, dumped her when her ovaries proved inactive, and she fled to New Bern to teach, and love, other people's kids. Miles and Sarah meet at a parent-teacher conference, and the sparks fly. But there's a fly in the ointment as well; an italicized voice threaded among the happy chapters alerts us that Missy's death was caused by someone whose identity, if revealed, could destroy Miles and Sarah's newfound joy. In Sparks's heaven, clouds exist to make silver linings look the brighter. As tough truth shadows their landscape, Miles and Sarah find depths within themselves, and their rekindled light illumines all. New Bern becomes a city of the reborn. Charlie Curtis, Miles's stickler boss, learns to bend; Missy's aimless killer morphs into a healer; and Jonah once again knows a mother's love. The opposite of edgy, with simple sentences and soft-pedaled sex, Sparks's plain vanilla morality will doubtless sell like ice cream on a steamy day. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Library Journal
A man loses his wife, lives in a haze, and then finds healing new love until the secrets start popping. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information

AudioFile
Deputy Sheriff Miles Ryan struggles to learn how to live with the death of his wife, Missy, who died in a hit-and-run accident. As he searches for the driver of that car, he confronts his relationship with his son, Jonah, and his burgeoning love of Sarah Andrews. As this combination mystery and love story unfolds, L.J. Ganser takes the listener through the ups and downs of love, the adrenaline rushes of law enforcement, and the investigation of this particular crime. Sparks weaves a captivating tale, told by the hit-and-run driver, who slowly tells all. As Ganser takes on the identity of the story's narrator, the listener roots for the discovery of truth and for justice to prevail. M.B.K. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine

ABOUT "THE NOTEBOOK"

Publishers Weekly
In 1932, two North Carolina teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love. Spending one idyllic summer together in the small town of New Bern, Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson do not meet again for 14 years. Noah has returned from WWII to restore the house of his dreams, having inherited a large sum of money. Allie, programmed by family and the "caste system of the South" to marry an ambitious, prosperous man, has become engaged to powerful attorney Lon Hammond. When she reads a newspaper story about Noah's restoration project, she shows up on his porch step, re-entering his life for two days. Will Allie leave Lon for Noah? The book's slim dimensions and clich-ridden prose will make comparisons to The Bridges of Madison County inevitable. What renders Sparks's (Wokini: A Lakota Journey of Happiness and Self-Understanding) sentimental story somewhat distinctive are two chapters, which take place in a nursing home in the '90s, that frame the central story. The first sets the stage for the reading of the eponymous notebook, while the later one takes the characters into the land beyond happily ever after, a future rarely examined in books of this nature. Early on, Noah claims that theirs may be either a tragedy or a love story, depending on the perspective. Ultimately, the judgment is up to readersbe they cynics or romantics. For the latter, this will be a weeper. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections.

Library Journal
Sparks, who coauthored the self-help parable Wokini (Random, 1994), weighs in with a romantic novel that will receive a substantial marketing push.

BookList - Joanne Wilkinson
With a huge first printing and a major advertising campaign, Warner is clearly hoping that Sparks' first novel will duplicate the success of Robert James Waller's Bridges of Madison County. Written in the opaque language of a fable, the novel opens in a nursing home as 80-year-old Noah Calhoun, "a common man with common thoughts," reads a love story from a notebook; it is his own story. In 1946, Noah, newly returned from the war, is trying to forget a long-ago summer romance with Allie Nelson, the daughter of a powerful businessman. Allie, soon to be married, feels compelled to track Noah down. One steamed-crab dinner and a canoe ride later, they fall madly in love again. We then learn that Noah, now aged and infirm, is reading his notebook to Allie in an attempt to jog her memory, severely impaired by Alzheimer's disease, and, miraculously, he succeeds, much to the amazement of the hospital staff. There is something suspect about a romantic relationship that reaches its acme when one of the partners is in the throes of dementia, but then, this is well within the confines of the romance genre--love conquers all, even Alzheimer's, leaving the medical experts (and this reviewer) confounded. If you want to read a novel in which the romance is grounded in something real, and the magic is truly magical, read the work of Alice Hoffman. If you want to read an upscale Harlequin romance with great crossover appeal, then read The Notebook.

Kirkus Reviews
Sparks's debut is a contender in the Robert Waller book sweeps for most shamelessly sentimental love story, with honorable mention for highest octane schmaltz throughout an extended narrative.

New Bern is the Carolina town where local boy Noah Calhoun and visitor Allison Nelson fall in love, in 1932, when Noah is 17 and Allie 15 ("as he . . . met those striking emerald eyes, he knew . . . she was the one he could spend the rest of his life looking for but never find again"). Allie's socially prominent mom, however, sees their Romeo-and-Juliet affair differently, intercepting Noah's heartrendingly poetic love-letters, while Allie, sure he doesn't love her, never even sends hers. Love is forever, though, and in 1946 Allie sees a piece in the paper about Noah (he's back home after WW II, still alone, living in a 200-year-old house in the country) and drives down to see him, telling the socially prominent lawyer she's engaged to that she's gone looking for antiques (" `And here it will end, one way or the other,' she whispered"). And together again the lovers come indeed, during a thunderstorm, before a crackling fire, leaving the poetic Noah to reflect that "to him, the evening would be remembered as one of the most special times he had ever had." So, will Allie marry her lawyer? Will Noah live out his life alone, rocking on his porch, paddling up the creek, "playing his guitar for beavers and geese and wild blue herons"? Suffice it to say that love will go on, somehow, for 140 more pages, readers will find out what the title means and may or may not agree with Allie, of Noah: "You are the most forgiving and peaceful man I know. God is with you, He must be, for you are the closest thing to an angel that I've ever met."

An epic of treacle, an ocean of tears, made possible by a perfect, ideal, unalloyed absence of humor. Destined, positively, for success.

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