Nights In Rodanthe
by Nicholas Sparks, contemporary (2002)
Warner, $22.95, ISBN 0-446-53133-2


Rubbish.

You want me to say that again?

Rubbish.

One more time?

Rubbish.

Of course there is some redeeming value to this book, if you subscribe to the principle that all published books have their merits. Hey, used tampons have merits too. I think. But frankly, I think Nights In Rodanthe is one of those "Thank God for Libraries" classic moments.

I don't deliberately waste one slot on my library card for this book just to take potshots at the sparkless, humorless Mr Cardboard Don Juan here. I actually found his last book readable enough to place my name on the waiting list for this book. Having said that, I wished I have placed my name on the waiting list for the Cassie Edwards book instead. At least then I could have howled in laughter instead of undergoing an "all men are bastards" moment after reading this book.

In fact, this book has "smug creep bastard" written all over it. Amanda, a widowed grandmummy, decides to comfort her grieving widowed daughter into moving on with her life by telling daughter about her own doomed love affair. It's like telling a kid who has just lost his puppy the story of how you have to shoot your horse only to fail and end up having to hammer poor horsie until its skull break instead.

See, Grandmummy here was in love once with this Great Wounded Man who walked into her bed and breakfast and enticed our heroine into offering him services beyond the call of professional duty. Of course, the Mongie Panda Woman here has only one personality: grade-A victim. She has no hobbies, no life, and her grand memories are being ditched by her husband and losing this Super Wounded Tortured Man Of My Life guy. Apparently sex with him was so good, so potent, so powerful OHMYGODYOURSPERMOPALOOZAISMAKINGMESEETHELIGHT OH-OH-OH-OHHH! that she can never forget him even now, and she will never love another man ever again. And she also understands why he leaves her and all, because remember, he's a Wounded Man and He Must Be Free (cue Elaine Page here: "Wasn't it good? He needs his fantasy and free-ee-dom! I know him so we-ee-eee-lll!").

That's the merit of this book. It bloats the male ego (you know that broad I banged last summer, boy, I gave it to her so good she will remember me when she was 80... what was that beeyotch's name again?) and endears itself as guilty pleasures. There are also readers who genuinely believe that that's the way books should be, this "wholesome" 1930-throwback tale where men are selfish loners who hurt others who love them in their so-called nobility and the women who love them no matter what kind of Chinese water torture these men put them through.

And then there is me who pinch my nostrils in distaste after reading such annoying male-ego driven drivel. It is one thing to be flat, dull, humorless, and charisma-free on page, but it is another thing altogether to get off on creating submissive women who pine for the men who abandon them like some bizarre 1950s rotting fossil that just won't decay long after pre-World War II social norms have died out. Strictly for readers who have Sparks on their guilty pleasure list or readers who long for the "good old days" when America is all white-washed and women stay at home and cook and clean and are deliriously happy with such mundane existance and a man's powerful and muscular embrace and his all-healing magic male-juice is all you need to wash your pain and sorrows away. Otherwise, borrow this book to read aloud at parties for fun and sniggers all around.

Nicholas Sparks is such a hack. He really should stop ripping off his stories from the lyrics of that admittedly nice song I Love Him So Well so many times and, you know, write something that doesn't give him a ego woody for once.

Rating: 39


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