Reading Between the sheets…..
For information, this book was given to me for a review, but as always it does not affect what I say about the book. For more information, please go to Sebastian Cole’s webpage.
We see an old man, Noah, in the hospital, spending his time talking to an orderly, Josh about his love and his one true soul mate. We follow his memories, both high and low, as he describes his journey to finding, losing, and eventually regaining his true love.
I do not remember what television special that I watched some years ago, probably PBS, about couples living with Alzheimer’s. It was one of those interview type settings (think the movie When Harry Met Sally and the interview portions). There was a couple, the wife had Alzheimer’s disease, and so the husband spoke to the interviewer. The wife often stared blankly into the distance most of the interview and then the final question was “what keeps you together”, and without missing a beat, the woman says, “Love,” and then looks back into the distance. The husband nods and agrees, clearly choked up and says, “Yes… love.”
This book is a more contemporary romance, no suspense of guns drawn or vampires biting. It is not a book type I read often, but it was a nice change of pace.
Let me start by saying that through 80% of the book, I pretty much hated every main character. It has been a long time since I’ve been so affected by characters’ actions. I was fussing out loud several times, mostly in disgust. Let me state a disclaimer: this is not against the quality of writing, but rather it is a testament to the fine quality that I was so affected by their actions.
Noah Hartman is someone who every woman would want to marry. He is rich, thoughtful, attentive, and a hard worker. Despite his search that he has put into finding love, his robotic strategy of finding a mate has not been successful. The downside of this attentive man is that he is part of a high power, rich, smothering Jewish family who clearly thinks that they know best how to run his life. He spends a great deal of his life trying to satisfy them and never fully gaining their approval. As his secretary states:
“You know what, Noah? You haven’t figured this out yet, but you really are just a kind, regular, down-to-earth type of guy – just like the rest of us – trapped inside an outrageously privileged, white-collared body.”
Most of his journey is in discovering what his life’s purpose and finding his own path.
Robin is our female lead, and I have to say, that up to about the last few chapters I absolutely hated this lady. I could take the time to list the issues, but a great deal of the tension and drama of this book is in her character revelations, so you will have to give me some leeway here in not describing her character.
I suppose, that even though her actions are explained at the end of the book, I still find that I did not like her character. But Noah sees her throughout the novel as his soul mate, filled with devoted love:
The beauty from within her soul shined brightly through her loving eyes as she looked deep into Noah’s now melting eyes.
We see his devotion to Robin in Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love and how he searches for her love in return.
Noah is in search of true love the entire time this book takes place. At first he tries to numerically calculate it, then when he finds it, he tries to confine it and conform it to his needs. As Diane said:
“You just don’t get it, do you? People aren’t some kind of two-dimensional statistic. They’ve got souls.”
This is the story of two souls that find each other, leave their mark and flit away, allowing the world around them to influence their trajectory. This is the story of how Noah and Robin learn to let their self-doubts and inner turmoil go and keep what is important remain, love.
This is an unusual story concept, and it is clear from the Author’s Note, that this is a very personal story to Sebastian Cole. The story is well written and I was emotionally involved from the beginning. By the end of the book, I was in tears.
What could be better?
The author states in the note, that it is considered “romance fantasy”. So, I give some latitude in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” storytelling. But the jumping back and forth into the characters’ memories became difficult; there were times when it was difficult to know if Noah was dreaming or if it was happening.
The point of this book is that you should never let a chance pass you by to tell the ones you love your feelings. Always be true to your soul mate and if they get away, leave the door open for them to return. As Noah says to Robin:
“Oh, good question. Well then, I simply follow my heart, which I know will always lead me back to you,”
This is a lovely book about one man’s emotional growth into being the man he should always have been, and about learning that love is always there and if you give it enough room, it will return to you.
When I read some books about passion, sex, and complicated positions, I sometimes think back to the interview with the Alzheimer’s disease patient and her husband and think, no, that is what being married is about. When youth and vigor are long gone, what remains throughout the union is love. Through life, pain, and even when so many things are unrecognizable, loves remains.