Message in a Bottle (Sparks)

Book Reviews
Glows with moments of tenderness.... Has the potential to delve deeply into the mysteries of eternal love.
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Brew the tea or pour a glass of wine—whatever is your pleasure. And settle in for Nicholas Sparks's latest book.... You're in for another treat.
Oakland Press

A three-hanky love story.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Avoiding a sophomore slump, Sparks follows The Notebook with another sentimental candidate for the bestseller lists. Boston parenting columnist Theresa Osborne has lost faith in the dream of everlasting love. Three years after divorcing her cheating husband, the single mother is vacationing on Cape Cod when she finds a bottle washed up on the shore. Inside, a message begins: "My Dearest Catherine, I miss you." Subsequent publication of the poignant missive in her column turns up two more letters, found by others, from the same mysterious writer, Garrett Blake. Piqued by his epistolary constancy, Theresa follows the trail to North Carolina, where she discovers that Garrett has been mourning his late wife for three years; writing the sea-borne messages is his only solace. Theresa also finds that Garrett just might be ready to love again...and that she might be the woman for him. There are few surprises here as we watch the couple learn to love in Catherine's slowly waning shadow. By the time they do, Sparks has proved that a man who romantically (and manually) pens missives to his lost lady love in the era of e-mail is a welcome hero in this fin-de-millennium fax-happy world. (Knowing that Kevin Costner has been slated to play Garrett on screen doesn't hurt, either.)
Publishers Weekly

Sparks' second novel proves that his best-selling The Notebook (1996) was no fluke as, once again, he offers his audience a deeply moving, beautifully written, and extremely romantic love story. Theresa Osborne is a divorced mother and Boston newspaper columnist, disillusioned with the single men she meets and yearning for someone special. When her son goes to California to stay with her ex-husband, she decides to go on a vacation to the Cape with Deanna, her editor and best friend. While jogging on the beach, Theresa discovers a bottle with a letter tucked inside from a man named Garrett to a woman named Catherine in which he describes the heartache of losing her. The letter moves Theresa to tears, so Deanna convinces her to print it in her column, thereby setting off a surprising chain reaction: it turns out that others have also found letters by Garrett. Imagining that this is the sort of man she has been seeking, Theresa sets out to find him, following various clues found in the letters. She succeeds and discovers that, indeed, he is everything she hoped he would be, including sincere, and therein lies the problem. His profound attachment to Catherine is a serious threat to their burgeoning relationship. Sparks' tale about the obstacles people face in second relationships is sensitive, wonderfully bittersweet, and ultimately hopeful. —Pat Engelmann
Library Journal

Famous from the best-sellerdom of The Notebook (1996), Sparks sails again into the waters of many tearsthough this time, thanks to fewness of charms in the writing and diminished reason to suspend disbelief, Kleenex sales are likely to remain stable. Boston Times columnist Theresa Osborne finds a bottle on the Cape Cod beach where shes vacationing. Inside? Well, a letter from one love-lorn Garrett to a sadly missed Catherine. Reading it brings the not-long-ago divorced Theresa Osborne to tears, though others may have their own responses (I miss you, my darling, as I always do, but today is especially hard because the ocean has been singing to me...). Theresa runs the letter in her Times column (though her beat is really parenting), and, remarkably (But what did it all mean?), another Garrett-Catherine letter surfaces, in the possession of a Norfolk, Virginia, reader of the column. Suffice it so say (I think of you, I dream of you, I conjure you up when I need you most), especially after a third letter comes to light, Theresa really wants to meet Garrett. So after little detective work she flies to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, visits the docks (She stepped out of her car, brushed the hair from her face, and started toward the entrance), boards Garretts sailing boat, the Happenstance, and meets the remarkable Garrett himself (There was something mysterious and different about the way he acted, something masculine). An evening sail, some more hair-tossing, and a new romance is well underway though the question remains whether Garrett can free himself from his grief and love for the tragically dead Catherine, his wife of nine years. Telling wouldnt be fair, though Theresa says at one point: "I love you, too, Garrett. But sometimes love isnt enough." Prizes: Worst writing: Garretts letters. Best scene: storm at sea. Most unbelievable scene: same storm at sea. Worst example of.... But enough already.
Kirkus Reviews

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