Thursday, September 27, 2007

Message in a Bottle

When it comes to modern writing, I'm usually very cautious and picky about the books I choose; however, I really enjoyed 'A Walk to Remember' and 'The Wedding' by Nicholas Sparks. Those were wonderful stories, celebrating sweet, pure, faithful, patient, generous love. After reading those two books, I had great expectations when I picked up 'Message in a Bottle'.

Boy was I up for a disappointment.

To sum it up: we have a 36-years-old divorced woman, living an overwhelmingly busy life between her career and taking care of her 12-year-old son. In the course of a romantic adventure, she meets her charming hero, and despite unresolved emotional conflicts, they become intimate very quickly (why was I surprised that they had sex on their second date? Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned to expect things like that?).

Anyway, a certain bond is formed between them, and since they live far apart, the only logical solution is for one of them to move. Both of them agonize over it; the woman isn't ready to give up her career, and from that moment on, their relationship consists mostly of self-centered monologues, struggles for leadership, and sex scenes. All the while, this woman's poor son (who is constantly shipped from her ex-husband to soccer camp to some other activity), who obviously longs for a real family, is robbed of stability and doesn't know what to think.

Frankly, I closed the book with a feeling of puzzlement, not sure what the author's point was. If he wanted to show an example of tragic immaturity and obviously bad choices, he was successful. Or maybe he wanted to illustrate how complicated and painful life can become when adults aren't ready to sacrifice and be responsible (and simply grow up). It was also a pretty good example of how, if we give in to our lusts, it might make a woman bond with the least suitable person and be miserable. And it sure made me stop and think, 'I'm so happy my life looks nothing like this!'

If any of you are familiar with this book, what do you think?

16 comments:

Mrs Slaq said...

Ugh. I've not read it,and have no plans to do so. For a good "curl up under a blankie with my kitties" read, I really enjoy Francine Rivers. She's a Christian author who does a lot of historical fiction/romance. Good stuff.

Buffy said...

Sorry, I haven't read it and I certainly won't now!!!

L said...

A couple of books you might enjoy are "Where the Heart Is" and "The Magic of Ordinary Days".

Jaimie said...

I haven't read the book but I have seen the movie. (I wouldn't recommend it due to the language.) I didn't think the story itself was that bad in the movie. It seemed like it was more about him finally letting go of his dead wife and moving on. But I do agree, both seemed very caught up in their own little worlds and their own emotions.

On a side note, if anyone would like to see a good, clean, somewhat romantic movie, check out The Ultimate Gift from Fox films.

Karen said...

I believe I have also seen the movie. I didn't like it. Very depressing! I liked some of Sparks' other books - A Walk To Remember was great. Although I'm not sure if he is coming from a point of being a strong Christian or a worldy, somewhat religious person. It's sad how some of the more religious parts of the book were a bit wishy washy, and how in the movie, it wasn't even a Bible she gave him in the end but a book of quotes from famous people. *groan*

Anna S said...

Karen - are you serious? They omitted the part when she gave him her Bible? But that was such an important part of the story! Her Bible meant so much to her!

See, that's why I usually prefer books and not movies :)

Terry said...

I enjoyed "A Walk to Remember" and "The Wedding" also. It's too bad this title falls so far below this author's previous literary standards. Thanks for the review. You saved me the trouble of reading this book.

Kristi said...

I haven't read the book (actually I didn't know the movie was taken from a book). I saw the movie years ago, and it's one of those things that you wish you could go back and un-watch. If that were possible. I was really disappointed with it. If I'd known before what it was about, I wouldn't have watched it in the first place. The same goes with many movies I watched when I was a teenager/in my early 20's.

It's so hard to rid our minds of those images, even years down the road, and it takes a lot of washing our minds with the Word of God and prayer. It's better to get a dependable review first than to watch it and repent later!

Thanks for the book review. I saw the movie "A Walk to Remember" and thought it was just so-so until the last 45 minutes. (Then I cried, I think!) The book sounds like it would be so much better. I'll see if I can track it down.

Anonymous said...

I really don't like Nicholas Sparks. I feel so manipulated by his books.

I usually read mysteries, though, which are entertaining! And I try really hard to find books with no sex in them.

Better luck next book, and thanks for the warning!
~Emily

Lean Not said...

One thing about Francine Rivers, who was mentioned above. Some of her stuff is good. But one of her most popular books, Redeeming Love, is something that I have a hard time justifying before the Lord. It is based on the book of Hosea and is about a wonderful man who marries a prostitute and brings her to the Lord.

Yes, it is clever. Yes, it is very well-written and interesting. Yes, it is based on the Bible and has a good message.

However, it is all about prostitution! It goes into so much detail; I was embarrassed reading it. It is definitely not Philippians 4:8; we need to be careful about reading stuff like that.

I was not saying this for the purpose of disagreeing with a previous commenter; in fact, I do agree that Rivers has some nice writing, and her other books are much better. However, I thought that it was worth the warning because I know that Anna's readers are the type who would want to be careful what they introduce into their minds. This book is very popular, but I was sorry I read it. It is not where my mind needs to be.

Lindsy said...

I had a similar experience with Sparks. I loved A Walk to Remember, but when I skimmed some of another work I was shocked, disappointed, and regretful for opening the work. I watched The Notebook with relatives and remember it had some parts where I was staring at the floor because it was too much like, to use the words of a relative, "a Harlequin" (romance novel). BLECH. Thanks for the heads up!

Jeannine said...

I've wachted the movie years ago. It was very popular and starred Kevin Costner. But I really didn't like it. (One of the reasons was that you always knew what would happen next, especially in the end.)
I've read two books of the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers and have enjoyed those very much.

Seashell / Chelsea said...

I've just seen the movie. I was rather disgusted. To take the viewer through all that emotional turmoil for no satisfactory reason. In my opinion the end was terrible. So I agree with you :-)

Mimi said...

I am disappointed that the book by Nicholas Sparks was not up to his usual standard...I enjoyed the books of his that I have read.
I had not read this one yet... and now I probably won't
thanks for the book review...

Karen said...

They worse than omitted it - they changed it to a dumb book of quotes from famous people. In the movie, she reads one of the quotes from Dolly Parton and says how smart she is. Bah. They also I don't think ever read the Bible together like they did in the book, they just go out on dates. Bah again.

I know what you mean, but the movie actually is pretty good despite that.

Anonymous said...

(Anna - I don't know if you want to just not post this or edit out some things. also you yourself might not want to read it as I do talk about the book Redeeming Love and issues of prositution and understand if it's not something you want to read or post) I'm about a year late but wated to add something about the francine rivers book Redeeming Love. Yes it is about prostitution and has some extremely disturbing scenes. I wouldn't recommend it to younger audiences. But saying that I also have to say it is probably my all time favourite book. The issues are quite horrific and disturbing but as someone who has been through sexual abuse, it is the most encouring story. The whole point of the book was to show how God's love heals and the struggles that many women go through to accept love after love and sex has been destroyed. In the book Hosea puts her first, and doesn't just take his own pleasure. He shows her God's love, and unconditional, forgiving love. Because of the issues discussed i wouldn't recommend it for young readers, but the sad fact is many women go through similar things. most prositutes were abused and go into prositution thinking that's just the way men are and they might as well earn money from it. None of this is pretty, but I applaud Francine Rivers for being willing to write this story. Yes God's plan is for a child to have loving parents and understand God's way of thinking about love and sex. But sometimes, because of sin, this is destroyed. And Redeeming Love shows how it is only God who can heal and restore a person.