Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Warner Books
Page Count: 263
By Dee Dee Azhikakath
(UMCom) -- A wedding is something little girls dream of and engaged couples anxiously plan for. But what happens after the wedding, when the reception is over and the presents are opened? What happens 30 years later when the wedding is barely a memory?
Nicholas Sparks addresses this all-too-real scenario in his latest novel, The Wedding. As a follow-up to his New York Times bestselling The Notebook, Sparks reintroduces some of his beloved characters, taking us back to Noah’s house. But this time the love affair is not exclusive to one couple. Rather, the book explores the relationships of three different couples, centering on Noah’s son-in-law, Wilson.
Wilson is a responsible husband and father. He always has prided himself on providing financially for his family, even if that meant keeping long hours at work. Wilson has never been one for romance, nor could he be described as sentimental. But while he assumed his affection for his family was understood, his son felt he viewed his family “as a convenience” and “never wanted to do the work required” for it. When one accidental action threatens Wilson’s very foundation, he is forced to change his habits.
In the course of any marriage there are many arguments and hurt feelings. However, nothing had cut as deep into Wilson’s marriage as the events on Aug. 23, 2002. After 29 years of marriage to Jane, Wilson forgets his wedding anniversary. As painful as this is to Jane, it is not her anguish alone. Wilson finally is forced to face the heartbreaking question – did Jane love him anymore?
It is from this point Wilson begins a self-reflective journey to seek answers. He knows he needs true answers, not just cheap grace. Wilson’s quest is for more than just a band-aid for his marriage. He desires now to find a way to make Jane fall in love with him all over again. As immense a task as this is, Wilson also knows the greatest struggle will come from within. Can a person change?
Since Jane’s ideal marriage was her parents’, Wilson seeks help from Jane’s father Noah, who himself is struggling with lost love since the death of his wife after 50 years of marriage. The cycle of love and marriage comes full circle as the third element of the plot is revealed – the wedding plans of Jane and Wilson’s oldest daughter Anna. As the family rushes to plan a wedding within two weeks, what comes to pass for the reader is more than just a wedding. It is the revelation and rejuvenation of a deep love created in the realities of marriage.
Jane and Wilson’s story may be all too familiar to some, but it may not resemble others’ stories at all. In a day when so many marriages end in divorce, how does a marriage survive? Where is the support network for a marriage when a deep pain occurs? How does love remain alive after the wedding ceremony? The Wedding attempts to demonstrate the answers to these questions.
Even God knows how hard marriage can be, which is why the Bible gives us guidance about it. For husbands such as Wilson, the apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:28, “…Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…” nourishing and tenderly caring for them. Likewise, Proverbs 31:10 imparts that a wife is more precious than rubies, a truth that Wilson forgot. Or as his father-in-law puts it, “…the more precious something is, the more people seem to take it for granted … .”
Bridal magazines, movies and sappy love songs on the radio portray marriage as perfect and effortless. The Wedding, however, refreshingly portrays it more realistically, revealing the less-talked about, true contents of marriage – compromise, challenge, monotony and even sacrifice. But the book also depicts the romance and surprise that can coexist with all the burdens.
Through a simple novel, Sparks discusses an important element of a wedding that often gets over looked – the marriage. This book is not just for those who have been married for 30 years, but for anyone who has been in a relationship. It gives insight to those who are single, and it reminds those who have lost love how precious it is. For anyone who has loved, you will love this book.
The Rev. Dee Dee Azhikakath is a young adult and the associate minister for St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz.
This feature was developed by UMC.org, the official online ministry of the United Methodist Church.