2017 Reviews · contemporary fiction · romance

Book Review: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Title: Two by Twotwo

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Published: October 4 2016

Publisher: Sphere

Pages:  416

Genres:  Fiction,  Contemporary, Romance

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

My review:

Two by Two, the latest release from international bestselling author Nicholas Sparks, was an auto buy for me. I always rush out to buy each new book Sparks releases, as his familiar love lost – love found formula, with a few dips in the road thrown in for good measure, gets me every time. Two by Two does contain the classic ingredients that we have come to love about a Nicholas Sparks novel but Two by Two delivers the final product in a slightly different way. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this novel.

Two by Two is the story of Russell (Russ) Green, who narrates the unfolding story. Also included are flashbacks to Russell’s upbringing, particularly his relationship with his older sister Marge. In addition, we learn about the great loves in his life, two formative relationships and the bond he shares with his daughter. In the beginning, Russ is a man who seems to have the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife, a healthy daughter, a successful career and a supportive family. Over the course of just a year, everything is turned on its head for Russ. The catalyst seems to be a change in career, as frustration in the workplace leads Russ to make the drastic decision to go out on his own. This results in the creation of his own advertising company. When things don’t go quite to plan, Russ’ wife Vivian decides enough is enough and this stay at home mum becomes a career woman. When Vivian’s career becomes more successful and demanding to Russ’ dwindling career, cracks in their marriage begin to show. The tables are turned and while Vivian is making a success of her new-found career, Russ becomes the main caregiver for their daughter London,  while also managing affairs in the household. With Vivian away for work, Russ turns to an old love, who also happens to be the mother of his daughter’s best friend. In true Nicholas Sparks style, tragedy beckons for the already challenged Russ, as he must summon all the strength he can to take charge of his life.

By golly, Two by Two was an emotional read, Nicholas Sparks certainly knows how to put his readers through the wringer. This is a novel that will make you cry, laugh, love and want to throw things at the main characters! It was an interesting move on behalf of Sparks to narrate the bulk of the novel from Russ’ point of view. It is not often that I get to understand the inner workings of a male’s mind.Sparks certainly provided us with insight into a male’s experience of career, love and life pressures. I didn’t immediately warm to Russ’ character and at times I got frustrated with his inability to take a stand and gain some control over his life. However, by the close of the novel, I appreciated the journey as well as growth his character was able to make. Though I was not completely happy with his final decision, it seemed in line with the traits shown by his character throughout the novel.

As much as this is the story of Russ, Two by Two is about the beautiful relationship that flourishes between a father and a daughter. Initially a fairly absent father, Russ is able to build his relationship with his daughter London through the circumstances they are both thrown into. Russ and London’s relationship is perhaps the most important feature of this novel, rather than the love story.

Fans of Sparks work will be pleased to see that Two by Two offers a love story. Although it is not the major feature of this novel, the love story is about second chances, missed opportunities, making wrong choices in love and revitalising a previous relationship. It also shows us the uglier side to a marriage breaking and the process of falling out of love with a person, which many people will be able to relate.  It was a tad predictable but I still enjoyed the road I was taken on.

In true Sparks style, there was a tragedy thrown in the mix that really turned the book and the characters on their head. In fact, I was sitting reading this book waiting for the tragedy to make itself known, as a seasoned Sparks fan I knew it was coming. Although things were not all hunky dory in the novel, it seemed like something else, on a bigger scale needed to happen in the storyline. That it did, it was upsetting to read but Sparks handled this storyline with the dignity and sense of understanding it deserves.

So Two by Two, which signals the 20th book from Nicholas Sparks was mostly a winner for this reader. The ending didn’t quite work for me, as I was frustrated that a certain main character got their own way and didn’t seem deserving of this. However, the loving relationship between father and daughter that emerges from a challenging year and the restoration of lost love, gave this novel enough pull for me to endorse it.

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks was published in October 2016 by Sphere, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

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