A mother unburdens a story of past romance to her troubled daughter for no good reason.
Adrienne Willis is a middle-aged mother with three kids who, not surprisingly, finds herself in an emotional lurch after her husband dumps her for a younger, prettier thing. Needing to recharge her batteries, Adrienne takes a holiday, watching over her friend’s small bed-and-breakfast in the North Carolina beach town of Rodanthe. Then Dr. Paul Flanner appears, himself a cold fish in need of a little warming up. This is the scene laid out by Adrienne to her daughter, Amanda, in a framing device of unusual crudity from Sparks (A Bend in the Road, 2001, etc.). Amanda’s husband has recently died and she hasn’t quite gotten around to figuring out how to keep on living. Imagining that nothing is better for a broken heart than somebody else’s sad story, Adrienne tells her daughter about the great lost love of her life. Paul came to Rodanthe in order to speak with the bereaved family of a woman who had just died after he had operated on her. Paul, of course, was not to blame, but still he suffers inside. Add to that a recent divorce and an estranged child and the result is a tortured soul whom Adrienne finds absolutely irresistible. Of course, the beach, an impending storm, the fact that there are no other visitors around, a roaring fireplace, and any number of moments that could have been culled from a J. Crew catalogue and a Folgers’s commercial make romance just about inevitable. Sparks couldn’t be less subtle in this harshly mechanical story that adheres to formula in a way that would make an assembly-line romance writer blush.
Short, to the point, and absolutely unremarkable: sure to be another medium-hot romance-lite hit for Sparks, who at the very least can never be accused of overstaying his welcome.