Nights in Rodanthe

Author: 
Sparks, Nicholas

Adrienne Willis is forty-five and has been divorced for three years, abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. The trials of raising her teenage children and caring for her sick father have worn her down, but at the request of a friend and in hopes of a respite, she’s gone to the coastal village of Rodanthe in North Carolina’s outer banks to tend the local inn for the weekend. With a major storm brewing, the time away doesn’t look promising…until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives.

At fifty-four, Paul is a successful surgeon but in the previous six months his life has unraveled into something he doesn’t recognize. Estranged from his son and recently divorced, he’s sold his practice and his home and has journeyed to this isolated coastal town in hopes of closing a painful chapter in his past, completely unaware that his life is about to change forever.

Adrienne and Paul come together as the storm gathers strength over Rodanthe, but what begins between them over the weekend will resonate throughout the rest of their lives, intertwining past and future, love and loss. (From the publisher.)

Nights in Rodanthe was adapted to film in 2008, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere

Discussion Guide: 

1. In the opening scene, Adrienne decides to tell her daughter about a story from her past about Paul Flanner, a relationship that had obviously ended. Did you realize that he had died, or did you think that the relationship had ended differently? How would the novel have been different had the author decided not to let the reader know the ending in advance? Could the story have been told in another way, as simply a remembrance for instance, and still had the same impact?

2. Amanda lost her husband to cancer, and Adrienne lost Paul to an accident. Adrienne also lost her husband to a younger woman. Yet Adrienne found a way to heal, despite her losses, while Amanda has not. Is this difference a function of age and maturity, or simply the passage of time? If its both, do you believe that Amanda will eventually fall in love again? Is that important to her? What other lessons did she draw from her mother's story?

3. Rodanthe is described in detail. How does the setting play a role in the story? Could this story have occurred in a larger city? Why or why not?

4. The novel deals with the theme love and sacrifice. How did the major characters -- Adrienne, Paul, Amanda and Robert Torrelson -- sacrifice? How did love play a role? What else played a role? Is sacrifice an act, or is sacrifice an on-going process? Explain.

5. In this novel, as in Message in a Bottle, there are scenes that take place in the beach. What is the significance of the beach in this story? How does it play into the theme of the novel? Also in this novel is a storm, just as there was in The Notebook. What is the significance of the storm? How does it play into the theme of the novel?

6. Adrienne never told her children about Paul in the year that followed their relationship in Rodanthe. Think about Adrienne at that point in her life. Why wouldn't she tell the children about him? Is that believable? How do her children remember her from that time? How does Amanda see her mother now, in knowing that she'd kept him a secret?

7. Paul is a wounded character when the novel opens because he feels that all the sacrifices in his life haven't been worth it. His wife has left him, he's estranged from his son, he's sold his medical practice, and has come to Rodanthe to meet Robert Torrelson. Was he a necessary character in this novel? Why or why not? How does Robert Torrelson influence the relationship between Paul and Adrienne? Would you like to read a novel based on the love story between Robert and his wife?

8. Mark plays a central role in letting us get to know Paul Planner. He also writes a letter that lets Adrienne know what had happened. Why did the author choose to use the epistolary method for describing these things? Is the letter more effective than a conversation? Why or why not? What is the relationship between Mark and Paul like in the final moments of Paul's death? How do you think Mark views Paul now? Is this typical of father/son relationships?

9. The inn is described in the opening paragraph of the novel. Why did the author start the novel with a description of an inn? How does the inn play a role in all that happens?
(Questions issued by publisher.)