The essence of THE WEDDING, Nicholas Sparks's latest novel of self-discovery and self-redemption, is that a man can consciously effect change in himself. THE WEDDING is the story of attorney Wilson Lewis, the son-in-law of Noah and Allie Calhoun, the well-remembered couple made famous in Sparks's debut novel THE NOTEBOOK. Throughout THE WEDDING, Sparks refers to the relationship that endears his readers to the Calhouns. Wilson questions his own ability to romance his wife Jane when he completely forgets their twenty-ninth anniversary. For the next year, he plans an occasion she will never forget.
When Wilson and Jane's daughter Anna comes home with the news that she is to marry, Wilson finds the vehicle to effect his own plans for a renewal of the lost emotion in his own marriage. Anna requests a simple, quick wedding, but Jane rejects this. A compromise is reached to have the ceremony the following weekend, but it will not be the "go-to-the-courthouse, justice-of-the-peace" type ceremony that Anna had first outlined. With her husband's assistance, Jane helps Anna carry out plans for a small family-and-friends celebration.
Sparks effectively uses flashback techniques to keep the story line moving toward Anna's wedding day, the climax of the weeklong activities. Throughout, Wilson remembers his first date, first kiss, courtship, wedding and marriage with Jane. The realization that their relationship has changed, and not for the better, gives him the impetus to make changes in himself. Anna's wedding is the catalyst for effecting that transformation.
Wilson's close friendship with Noah, now widowed, is the undercurrent for the emotion he needs to move forward in his plans for a better marriage. Noah is a gentleman, now living in a retirement center. His and Allie's home remains in the family but is uninhabited. Noah spends his time at Creekside with food outstretched to a white swan that glides across the pool for his daily attention. The act gives him purpose, after Alzheimer's disease has taken Allie from him. Wilson is the recipient of his wisdom in the unfolding story.
Wilson becomes involved in Anna's wedding plans when he suggests that Noah's house be the chosen site. He arranges for the renovation and restoration of the interior as well as the rose garden, accomplished in a short week. He romances Jane as well during this time, becoming the family "chef" when her days are filled with shopping.
One wonders how Wilson can attend to his own business during the frenetic days following Anna's wedding announcement. But THE WEDDING is a story of renewed efforts to make a man's personal life better. Sparks has the ability to tell a simple story with rich emotion and give his readers a sense of fulfillment.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 24, 2011