Romantic suspense fiction

Nights in Rodanthe

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.)

The Lucky One

Sparks, Nicholas

A photograph found by chance; a chain of events that lead inexorably to the woman it portrays: The Lucky One traces a path so ephemeral and artful that we would know that Nicholas Sparks had written even if his name did not appear on the title page. This story about a man whose scrape with death leads to his one true love will keep you up at night and then make you sleep more soundly. Inimitable storytelling. (From Barnes & Noble.)

Discussion Guide: 

1. After Thibault finds the photo of a girl wearing a shirt that says lucky lady across the front, his best friend Victor convinces him that the photo is his lucky charm. Do you believe in lucky charms? Do you think the photo is Thibault’s lucky charm, or is his good luck just a coincidence?

2. Do you find it odd that Thibault walked across the country to find the girl in the photograph, a woman he knew next to nothing about? Why is Thibault so compelled to find this woman?

3. Thinking about how difficult marriage is, Beth remembers her grandmother’s saying: “Stick two different people with two different sets of expectations under one roof and it ain’t always going to be shrimp and grits on Easter.” Do you agree? Do you think marriage is worth the hardship that often accompanies it?

4. Compare the main male characters in the novel—Thibault, Clayton and Drake. How are they different and how are they similar?

5. Thibault, we learn, was a soldier in the Iraq war, but when we meet him he looks and acts nothing like a soldier. How has the war affected Thibault and in what ways are his actions in this novel determined by his time spent in Iraq?

6. Victor seems to think that Thibault is in love with Beth even before he’s met her. Do you think it is true that Thibault fell in love with Beth before he ever met her?

7. Beth is somewhat guarded and she doesn’t allow herself to fall in love with Thibault easily. What, besides her past romantic failures, makes her initially wary of Thibault?

8. What role does Nana play in bringing Thibault and Beth together?

9. Why doesn’t Thibault reveal the truth about himself to Beth earlier? Do you think he acted dishonestly and do you think Beth is right to be upset when he finally tells her the truth? Should she have forgiven him?

10. Do you think Thibault and Beth are destined to be together? Do you believe in fate?

11. What do you make of Clayton? Do you dislike him? Do you understand why he behaves the way he does? Is he a good father to Ben? Does your own opinion of him change by the end of the book?

12. What role does Zeus play in this story?

13. Describe Ben and Thibault’s relationship. How does Ben change as he and Thibault become close?
(Questions issued by publisher.)


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