Nicholas Sparks is a romance novelist who writes about heartache, triumph, tragedy, death, and life. He has also produced some great films: The Notebook, The Longest Ride and Nights in Rodanthe, to name just a few.
In his recent novel ‘The Return’, he takes on a different writing approach by including a lost romance and a mystery, which is similar to his previous book ‘Every Breath.’ It’s a love story that comes at a crossroads, with heart-breaking regrets and adoration that will last a lifetime. With one character living in Carolina and the other in Zimbabwe, their only communication is through a simple letterbox called Kindred Spirit. It’s a novel that shows the life of both Hope Anderson and Tru Walls.
It’s almost as if these fictional books have some elements of truth to them. Every Breath focuses on the Kindred Spirit Letterbox. It’s a unique thing in itself – people write their stories of hope, love, and loss using the traditional pen and paper and then put it into a letterbox for all to see.
When looking at Nicholas Sparks’ website, you see his inspiration for many of his books. This particular novel was inspired by his hometown Sunset Beach, North Carolina.
“It has a rich history all on its own. What has stayed with me all these years is the romantic notion of a lonely mailbox in the middle of nowhere filled with handwritten notes of love, loss and hope.”
Inspired further by his travels in Africa, this loving story soon became another bestseller.
Waiting two years for a new novel, Sparks finally published and sold over 100 million copies of ‘The Return.’ This was almost as much as his first novel ‘The Notebook,’ which sold 1.5 million copies and made him an international best-selling author. Within this, he created a film that has become beloved and watched by millions around the world. The Notebook was the first book I read of his. I instantly fell in love with his novels and the feeling of ‘not wanting to put the book down’ that they give you, the ’emotional rollercoaster’ they take you on. The Notebook showed me these emotions, and so I had to know what his latest novel, ‘The Return’ was like.
The Return starts with a prologue, introducing us to the main character Trevor Benson, an Ex-veteran, Doctor, Surgeon. He decides to move back to New Bern, North Carolina, where he meets two women that end up being a big part of his newfound life. We also learn that he has suffered a lot during his lifetime, with some of it being physical trauma, and a lot affecting him mentally leading him to suffer from PTSD. With all of that being in the prologue alone, you are instantly intrigued to find out more. In chapter 6, two characters Natalie and Callie appear – like Trevor, they have secrets.
Chapter after chapter it’s clear to me that it’s Trevor’s story, from him meeting Natalie and Callie, and the newfound knowledge I now have of bees. Like bee venom helps with inflammation around the joints that could cause arthritis. Also on Sparks’ Instagram feed he mentioned the knowledge he had growing up about bee’s and he mentions a story about a bee keeper, which is mentioned in the book. The beekeeper went to the hive, grabbed a bee by the wings and that kept stinging until he let go, when he let go the bee didn’t retaliate it simply went back to it’s hive- all it wanted to do was defend and protect himself. All of which is reflected with these characters, Trevor, Callie and Natalie they keep pushing people away, not allowing love or friendship, and not allowing themselves to move forward with their life.
Whilst there is an instant connection with Natalie, she is a mystery, with more and more revealed as the story goes along. However, even though it’s interesting and fans on Sparks’ webpage were buzzing for this new novel, I never felt the need to carry on reading as the first couple of chapters were much like a long-winded introduction. It eventually picks up when characters like Natalie and Callie come to light. I completed the book in under two days, and you see that Sparks has put everything he has in this novel, from romance, mystery, heartache, loss, and even a bit of comedy. It was yet another book full of emotional rollercoasters, and it shows, as quoted by Sparks at the end of the novel: ‘Often, to move forward, we must return to the place where it all began.’ In order for him to move forward from his accident in the army and his past life by simply returning back to his hometown. To have a whole new perspective on life he had to forgive the past and allow himself to find a better future.