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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 31 August 2013

"The Guardian" by Nicholas Sparks

Newly widowed Julie has to choose between sophisticated engineer Richard and late husband's best friend, grease monkey Mike. Singer, the dog bequeathed by the late husband, obviously prefers Mike to Richard and we all know dogs can't be wrong about things like that because they have instinct. Then on page 16 Julie thinks of Mike while showering: "Now there was a guy who would make some woman happy one day."

If you are going to use a cliché to signal your happy ending you might as well do it before too many pages have gone. You wouldn't want your readers to suffer suspense, would you?

Singer keeps growling at Richard and Julie begins to worry why she doesn't feel anything for him, despite his charm. Obviously he is bad news. Then on page 93 Richard asks Julie why she is not wearing a locket he has given her. He has a "plastic expression" but he suddenly "seemed to snap out of the spell he'd been under". He is clearly a classic weirdo.

Many authors would now play with your beliefs. They would offer alternative villains. They would suggest alternative reasons for Richard's behaviour. Richard might do something truly altruistic. Not Sparks. By page 140 Julie is in love with Mike (no surprises there), by page 177 we suspect Richard killed his father, on page 206 he beats up two kids with a baseball bat and then pretends they stabbed him so they go to jail instead of him.

The book then turns into a thriller powered by the fact that the police can't imagine that Richard might be using a false name or that he might have stolen a car.  One male police officer is so small town and stupid that he makes Amos from the Dukes of Hazard look like a Nobel Laureate.

To be fair, Sparks writes some great one liners and he has a nice turn with dialogue (when he skips the clichés). But the plot was unbelievably predictable and the characters either goodies or baddies with absolutely no shades of grey.

A light read. August 2013; 431 pages

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