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The Best of Me Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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A Q&A with Author Nicholas Sparks
Q: What was your inspiration for writing The Best of Me?
A: I suppose the inspiration was two-fold. It had been a long time since I’d done a “reunion” story (like The Notebook) so it was time to do another. At the same time, I wanted it to be different than The Notebook in almost every way. At the same time, I wanted to write a novel about characters in their forties. At that age, people are coming to terms with the decisions and choices they’ve made in the past. The Best of Me was essentially a combination of those two ideas.
Q: This book deals with falling in love for the first time and how sometimes that love is so strong it can cross the span of time and space no matter what happens. Is that something you believe in?
A: Yes, I believe it’s possible. First love is always powerful, and for some people, that love really does last forever. The problem with that, however, is that over time, the love often becomes romanticized. I wanted to write a novel that explored that concept as well. Neither Dawson nor Amanda are the same people they’d been when they were younger, and little by little, that romanticism diminishes over the course of the story. For them, however, the new reality nonetheless left them feeling the same way about each other as they once had. And yet, they fell in love once more. Or maybe, phrasing it differently, they never fell out of love in the first place.
Q: Former high school sweethearts Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole reconnect after 25 years when their mentor, Tuck Hostetler, dies and they are summoned back to Oriental, North Carolina for his funeral. One of things that drove Amanda and Dawson apart was that they were from the opposite side of the tracks. Are class differences still a part of everyday life in a town like Oriental, North Carolina?
A: Class differences aren’t as powerful as they once were, but they’re still prevalent. I don’t know, however, if it’s limited to places like Oriental, and nor do I see it as entirely and without question a terrible thing. People who intend to spend their lives together should have things in common, and like it or not, class is, and always has been, part of that, because it shapes the people that we are.
With Amanda and Dawson--and many others in the real world, of course--the class differences were less important than their similarities. Neither one of them got along with their parents, both were intelligent, both had dreams, and over the years, both of them had disappointments.
Q: Today, we can easily reconnect with people from our past via Facebook and other social networking sites. How often do you think people try to find their first love on these sites?
A: It’s very common. I know people who’ve reconnected with someone from their past then later married them, but that’s probably less common than simply reaching out via social media to an old boyfriend or girlfriend simply to find out what’s been going on in their lives. I can understand the draw: First love is powerful because it’s a first, and it’s almost impossible to forget.
Q: At the point when Amanda and Dawson reconnect, Amanda has been married almost twenty years and it’s clear she is having problems in her marriage. Having been married for 22 years yourself, what would you say is the key to a successful marriage?
A: For every couple, it’s different, because every couple faces different challenges, and every person has differing abilities when it comes to meeting those challenges. The key to any successful marriage is to realize that the commitment you once made to each other is the most important aspect to keep in mind. That simple truth, if truly felt, should be enough to make you realize that you can’t put that commitment at risk. If your partner feels the same way, he or she wouldn’t put that commitment at risk either.
At the same time, it’s important to understand that all marriages have challenging periods. No one is perfect, after all. But if the commitment to each other--which sometimes requires a commitment to change--is truly felt, then most likely, that marriage will be successful.
Q: This book has a large, spiritual component to it. Tuck sees Clara, his dead wife, and Dawson sees a man in a blue windbreaker, although he is not sure who he is and the reader does not find out until the end. Do you believe in ghosts?
A: I think I do. I had an experience much like the one Dawson described: at times, I could see unexplainable movement from the corners of my eyes. Quick, instantaneous movements that vanished before I could turn my head. If you talk to the owners of the house where those events occurred, they will swear it was a ghost. Other events occurred in that house as well before the “ghost”--or whatever it was--was finally exorcised from the premises. But that’s a longer story for another time.
Q: There is an absolutely stunning scene that unfolds when Amanda and Dawson go to Tuck’s country cottage for the first time. It’s very reminiscent of a scene that happens in The Notebook. Would you say this book, which examines young love versus middle age love, is the book closest in sentiment to The Notebook?
A: Without question, this is closest in sentiment--at least through the majority of the story – when compared to The Notebook. I wanted to do exactly that. At the same time, I wanted to make everything else about the story completely different as well, and I’m hopeful I did that as well.
Q: Tuck writes letters to Amanda and Dawson to be read after he is dead. They are wise and beautifully written. In this day and age of constant, electronic overload, do you lament the lost art of letter writing?
A: I do. I love letters as opposed to e-mail. But I’m old-fashioned that way.
Q: Warner Bros. has already bought the film rights to The Best of Me. You will be a producer on this film along with Denise DiNovi. How often is an author also a producer for the movie version of a book he/she has written? Is this unprecedented?
A: I’m sure other authors have served as a producer of their work; some have even directed. But it was somewhat unprecedented for Warner to agree to that – and purchase the novel--before I’d written a single page.
Q: Of all the movies based on your novels, which is your favorite?
A: I’ve been fortunate in that all the movies have been well-done and all have been successful, so I don’t have a personal favorite. I can say, however, is that, at the current time, The Notebook seems most likely to become a classic.
Photo by Nina Subin
Top Customer Reviews
The occasion for their union is the death of Tuck Hostetler, an elderly car mechanic who was their mutual friend and wished for them to scatter his ashes at a cottage owned by his ex-wife, the love of life who died before him, Clara. As Dawson and Amanda visit Tuck's estate and fulfill his wishes, they fall in love with each other all over again. But twenty years have passed, and Amanda's current married life and her mother's disapproval creates a huge obstacle.
But this is not the only problem Dawson faces. Elsewhere in town, his cousins Ted and Abee found out his back in town and want to plot their revenge for Dawson beating them up all these years ago. Not satisfied with a confrontation, Ted plots to murder Dawson. Meanwhile, Abee is caught up in a romance of his own--one that ultimately turns dangerous for all the participants involved.
My thoughts: as in many of Sparks' previous novels, this story is told from different points of view. This is an effective device that Sparks uses, letting the reader get intimately acquainted with all of the characters. Right off the bat, we know that Dawson wears his heart on his sleeve--and is a vulnerable character--weighted down by guilt, lost love, and loneliness.Read more ›
Here's the plot in a nutshell. Dawson Cole, the kid from the wrong side of the track and Amanda Collier, the rich pretty girl fall in love. Alas, their love is doomed, so they part ways, but this love was so very strong Dawson could never find it in him to love another and led a loner life. (I ask ... how many guys would go their ENTIRE lives without ever being with a woman or wanting a family, content to keep company with a memory?) Amanda though, has married a dentist who drinks too much and makes her miserable. She compares herself to an otter asleep on the side of his cage at the zoo, knowing this isn't the life she's supposed to live but with no way out. Even on her wedding day, she wished the poor man at the end of the aisle away, longing for Dawson.
The book begins with Dawson knowing that he should have died when the oil rig he worked on had an explosion. But instead, after he flopped in the water, this dark haired man in a wind breaker appears and Dawson swims towards him to safety. Suddenly this wind breaker guy is popping up here and there, sometimes just a flicker in the corner of his eye, but Dawson can never get a close look at him before he disappears.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful book! My first Sparks read! Planning on reading many more!Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
I read this book after I have watched the movie. First time in my life where I actually prefer the story of the movie to the book. But still a very nice book to read. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Marguerite
This is absolutely without a doubt the BEST book I've read in a while. I loved the irony and selflessness Dawson showed for others he cared about and some he didn't even know... Read morePublished 13 days ago by love to read!