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Many authors base their books on things that they see going on around them or personal experiences. In the case of Nicholas Sparks, each of his books shares one key theme tragic love. From this you would assume that he has suffered greatly in the realm of romance, but this is not the case. While Sparks is clearly a romantic which is visible in both his personal life and his writing, he nonetheless chooses to base the majority of his stories on heartbreaking endings to enchanting love. This is of course seen in his most famous book “The Notebook” and a more modern novel “Dear John.” By analyzing these novels and comparing them to Nicholas Sparks life when he wrote them, I hope to discover what it is about these tragic love stories is so appealing to the literary world.
Sparks wrote, “The Notebook” over a six-month period in 1994 after have many ups and downs in the job market this was his second attempt at entering the book industry. However, unlike his first attempts this one was successful; in 1995 Warner book purchased the rights for one million dollars. The romantic that Sparks is, the first thing he bought his wife a new wedding ring and getting down on one knee all over again. “The Notebook” is loosely based off of the lives of his wife’s grandparents, which makes it easy to understand the emotions evident in his writing. However, this is not a memoir it is a novel, the part that Sparks took from his wife’s grandparents was the grand love that they shared that was incomparable. It was still Spark’s use of language and his ability to portray emotion, love in particular that made the story what it is. The story of how Noah’s and Allie’s summer spent together created the strong bond that they would share for their lives to come. Such as, their ability to overcome their social differences and see deeper;
“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it” (The Notebook 104).
The emotion of Sparks intensifies his writing through the pain that his characters feel, In the case of “The Notebook,” there are two very different senses of lose. The first is when Noah and Allie are torn apart by summer’s end and her families’ disapproval, and the second is through Allie’s battle with Alzheimer’s. However, it is the immense love that Allie and Noah share that will always bring them together, “You [Noah] even beat the disease sometimes. Even though the doctors don’t understand it, we nurses do. It’s love, it’s as simple as that. It’s that most incredible thing I’ve ever seen” (The Notebook 210-211). Nicholas Sparks wrote this moving novel during relatively normal time in his life, which makes sense considering the novel, has a basis of a family story. Sparks exclaims that “I didn’t want to live the rest of my life knowing that I hadn’t really tried. So, I decided to give myself three chances — three more novels — and if none of those was published, I’d be able to accept that I wasn’t meant to be a writer,” and with that he wrote “The Notebook” (Nicholas Sparks). While the tragedy of lost love in the novel does not directly relate to his life during that time, it is a great example of the undying love that people are willing to cry through time and time again.
The twelve years between “The Notebook” and “Dear John” were not simple for Sparks. His son, Ryan’s, diagnosis with autism, which meant much time would have to spent to “re-wire his brain”, but it paid off because Ryan’s diagnosis was later changed to what is known as dyslexia of hearing. Sadly, this delightful news also came with the death of his father in an automobile accident, and his sisters passing from a brain tumor. With that tragedy things began to look up, with his third son born and twin girls later on, Sparks finally seemed to have his life in order and by the point had already written novels such as “Nights in Rodanthe” and “At First Sight.” Sparks describes “Dear John” to be inspired by one of his favorite films, Casablanca, the exploration of what it truly means to love another.
“Dear John” was published in 2006 and quickly became a best seller just as many of Sparks past novels had. The title of this novel gives a clear overview of what the novel will be about, a soldier away at war receiving letters from the girl that he left back home. I believe the Sparks wrote this book because of the current war and the young men that we send to defend our country, but he claims it is just an interpretation of a beloved movie. This is the story of John, the rebellious army man that comes home on leave, only to meet the girl that he would fall in love with, Savannah. Of course, it is also no surprise that due to John’s duties overseas their time apart becomes too much and they must go their separate ways. It is apparent with the opening lines of the novel that Sparks wishes to convey the meaning of true love to his readers; “What does it mean to truly love another? There was a time in my life when I thought I knew the answer: it meant that I’d care for Savannah more deeply than I’d cared for myself and that we’d spend the rest of our lives together” (Dear John 1). Sparks uses this not only to establish the theme, but also as foreshadowing for the rest of the novel. The fact that it is pointed out that her happiness is more important than his own, opens the door to the possibility that he will allow himself to suffer in order for her to live her life, and it is this exact thing that John does. It is best described in the words that Nicholas Sparks choose, “I fell in love with her when we were together, than fell deeper in love with her in the years we were apart. Our story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And although this is the way that all stories unfold, I still can’t believe that ours didn’t go on forever” (Dear John 5). This powerful novel shows readers what unconditional and unselfish love looks like.
Throughout Nicholas Sparks life there have definitely been tragedies and times of sadness, but they do not seem to parallel the heartbreak in his novels. Sparks simply explains that “the bittersweet endings, to me, generated more authentic emotional power than either a completely tragic or happy ending. I try to vary the endings in general so the reader never knows what to expect. Surprise is the final element of the modern love story” (Nicholas Sparks). On the other hand, it is his examination of love in such realistic ways that make his books so enchanting. It is sadly true that most loves do not have the happily ever after that people read. When I read the quote “Nicholas Sparks establishes himself as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters,” I completely understood it (Nicholas Sparks). Sparks books have not become consistent bestsellers because of their tragedies and the fact that girls enjoy crying, but because Sparks creates such a deep connection and relatable emotions between his characters that the reader themselves feel as though they have fallen in love. Through Sparks dramatic writing, his use of sadness and pain in his stories relates to a realistic story that can still hold a sense of wonder and enchantment. Nicholas Sparks writes the love story that people dream of, even without the happily ever after, the passion of those in love is so potent that it gives a sense of being worth it. This is best phrased by Nicholas Sparks himself, “I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough” (The Notebook 2).
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