Book Review: Message in a Bottle


10/08/2011 by Siddiqui Fayesal

A tear-jerker written by the romantic author Nicholas Sparks and made into a movie of the same name starring Kevin Costner, A Message in a Bottle is an interesting, if not an exhilarating  one. I haven’t seen the movie and am not planning to either. Now don’t get the wrong idea about me not liking the book, which, on the contrary I liked just fine. It’s just that I’d prefer to have my head with the memories of the character like how I read them and not how I “saw” them. More often than not the movie screws it up so badly that the person starts finding the book rather pukey.

Theresa, a 30 something divorced lady is on a small vacation with her 12 year something kid and while she’s walking along the beach she discovers a bottle washed ashore with a note inside. Theresa did what anyone of us might. She opens it and reads the note and begins weeping. The note is actually a letter written by a man called Garret Blake to a woman, his dead wife apparently, called Catherine. Theresa is so touched by the letter that she decides to track this Garret Blake down just out of sheer curiosity.

Who could write such letters to a dead person and throw them out to sea? Who could be capable of loving a person to this extent? Theresa has had a recent divorce because her otherwise good husband was caught cheating behind her back. She tracks down Garret and the two of them get closer to each other. It’s not surprising that they find so much solace within each other’s arms. Theresa is stunned to meet a man so loving and so giving. Garret is finally finding peace with himself and learning to love again. He didn’t quite get over Catherine’s death. Garret dreamt of her every night. And when he wasn’t dreaming of her he was writing those letters to her and throwing them into the sea.

Writing those letters were the only way he had been able to vent out his bottled up frustration of not being able to live with the only woman he had loved! Things are going pretty fine between the two of them and everything’s looking up for Garret apart from those panic attacks he gets occasionally. He feels like he’s cheating Catherine by being with another woman. He sees her in Dreams giving him signs which he interprets wrongly and his misgivings increase ten folds.

He thinks Catherine is giving him signs that she finds this rather surprising closeness unbearable. Garret thinks that these misgivings are his own personal ghosts and Theresa is not aware of this. But he is wrong. Theresa feels the difference in the way he speaks to her sometimes. She can sense that Garret is forcing himself against his better judgments o be with her and that he hasn’t yet overcome the romance and love he had for Catherine. Theresa decides that she cannot be with a man who is still carrying his “baggage” after so many years. Theresa is not ready to share (this is so insensitive) Garret!!! All things said and done she decides that she cannot be with a man who loves his wife. It makes no difference whether she’s alive or dead! So Theresa leaves Garret and decides to stay away from him for his own good. She loves him too much but she cannot stand him being still attached to his late wife.

I’ll let the readers read the remainder of the story themselves and find out how Theresa leaves him and how Garret finds out that Theresa is The One and gets his divine signs pointing towards Theresa in all her glory. The story written by Nicholas Sparks is a very interesting read. It’s totally romantic and mushy and if you’re a lover of romance then this will whet your appetite! Although I think the book could have done without the graphic sex.

I think all females love a good romantic novel and a few guys too. This one was one of the very few ones that I have read and liked. It is said to be based on Nicholas father!! How we love real life stories. Especially if it is so beautifully written and makes you weep.

On the tear-jerker scale 7 on 10
On the story scale 6 on 10
On the Male character 7 on 10
On the female character 4 on 10

Wondering why so low for Theresa?

Now here comes my personal take on it!!!

Theresa (I haven’t seen the movie and don’t know who plays her character but every time I think of Theresa, Michelle Pfeiffer pops up in my mind) has her issues although the entire books make it seem as though poor Garret is the only one with ghosts. Garret loved his wife so much that he spends every waking hour thinking about her and dreaming about her. He spends his free time on his boat Happenstance that both of them helped built. Garret is a soul who knows how to love unconditionally.

On the other hand Theresa is a successful lady with a 12 year old kid for company. She has her newspaper working out for her and is popular among her friends. All she lacks is a loving husband. She finds Garret and he could’ve been the loving guy she was looking for. They date and decide that they really do love each other enough to think about themselves more seriously than just a couple.

Garret is very attached to his beach life and his small town upbringing to leave it for Chicago. Part of the reason of his attachment was probably Catherine whom Garret never wants to let out of his mind and, therefore, makes it clear, in his own indirect and hesitant way, that he wouldn’t appreciate moving in with Theresa to Chicago. Theresa has her son’s school to think of; his friends; his social life; the fast life he’ll miss away from Chicago and of course her career that she’ll have to give up to be with this one man who swept her off her feet the very first time they met!!!

Even before she decides to leave Garret because of his attachment to Catherine she starts thinking about her dead career if she moved out of Chicago. The reasons she thinks justifies bringing an end to a beautiful relationship were her son’s social life and her career. Did I tell you that her son was 12!!! People might say that I’m being very harsh to her but isn’t she supposed to be a woman. The nurturer and care-taker of mankind. Was her career more important that her future husband? Was her 12 year old kid’s change of school more important than the love that they had shared?

Theresa was a very strong character based on today’s modern women who value career fortification more than the gratification achieved by love of the most basic degree. As the way I see it the lesser reason for their break up was Garret’s continual affection for Catherine and the bigger reason was her selfishness. She could’ve done so much for the man in question. The man needed another woman it was obvious. She wasn’t ready to be her.

 Siddiqui F.


PS: Review also on Goodreads.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Message in a Bottle

  1. amarllyis says:

    Alright! Here I am! *Rubbing palms in glee* Where should I start?!

    You have said and I quote…
    “Even before she decides to leave Garret because of his attachment to Catherine she starts thinking about her dead career if she moved out of Chicago. The reasons she thinks justifies bringing an end to a beautiful relationship were her son’s social life and her career.” That makes perfect sense to me. Why should she not think of her career? Was Garett the one to pay her bills or the school fees for her child when she was on her own? No, her career let her do that. So, career comes before Garett!

    I quote again, “Did I tell you that her son was 12!!! People might say that I’m being very harsh to her but isn’t she supposed to be a woman. The nurturer and care-taker of mankind.” Yes, she is the nurturer and giver of mankind. So, her son comes before a man, who as you have admitted yourself, is “a man who is still carrying his “baggage” after so many years.” Tell me, shouldn’t her son be more important to her than a man who is not in an emotional state to commit to her? I don’t see why not? She bore her son, he is her first responsibility! Not Garett!

    “Was her career more important that her future husband? Was her 12 year old kid’s change of school more important than the love that they had shared?” Hell, yes! And i really don’t see why not! I shall explain why!

    Fayesal, a woman can sacrifice anything for her family and her man! I can give it to you in writing, she can sacrifice anything. But only, if she has a sense of belonging. You have mentioned that Garett was never able to completely love Theresa, so why would she sacrifice things for him? She has a son to take care of! She can’t be foolhardy and spoil her life because she has her son’s responsibility as well! What if Garett would just leave her, where would she take her son? I completely and wholly agree with what she did. If it were me, I’d do the same thing!

  2. I thought you knew I belonged to the old school! I prefer my woman to take a back-seat once I took over. And, take over Garret would. It’s obvious if you read the book that Garret is capable of loving in ways Theresa has only read in romantic books (which this is, btw:-p.)

    More than once she thinks about her sons “social life”. Sameen, her son was 12. A kid that young HAS no social life. 12 means we were in class 7. We listened to our parents and when you’re 12 you don’t know what friendship is and what attachments are. Garret was the father he needed. Theresa, although a wonderful woman and a great mother, wasn’t her son’s father. Today’s single working women seem to forget that she is not enough. The same way a single father is not enough!

    One thing: Do we not love our dead grand parents or our dead relations? The “baggage” (the quotes were emphasizing the ridiculous notion of using the word baggage for a dead wife) Theresa is talking about is the living proof that the man is capable of loving someone so dearly. Is that not a certificate of authenticity? Is that not a sign that he NEEDS a woman to forget the woman? By saying that he’s not in an emotional state to commit to her you’re underestimating the power a woman has over the man who loves her! Time was the answer. Theresa gave it mere months!

    And, when did ever I say her “son” was less important. I said his social life was not of importance! There is a lot of difference between the two.

    I have NOT mentioned that Garret would never be able to “completely love” Theresa, either! And, aint you speculating and profiling when you say “What if Garret would just leave”! Also, changing schools doesn’t, and cannot be, equated with the seriousness you have shown at least not when we talk about the current scenario. Yes, changing schools is a pain in the ass (you’d know:-p) but at the cost of what? For a man who would be a far better father to him than she could ever be?
    Theresa did not really take the pains to belong. Garret tried really hard to get over Catherine. He had been trying it since her death. But it wasn’t helping. He needed another woman to forget his dead wife. If only Theresa would’ve tried a bit more harder for the sake of the man she so much loved they’d make a beautiful couple!

  3. Suhani says:

    Hey Fayesal 🙂

    Your review is really nice.. I do agree that they could have worked out something.. Her career wasnt in jeopardy considering that they had explored the option of her working in the local newspaper in Garett’s town.. Infact she was foolish to let go considering she was so career oriented 😛 .. In no time she would have been the chief editor coz of so less competition :D..Evn her son was happy to have a father figure in his life.. well anyway..The point is that even i think she needlessly blames Garett in the novel.. Its just that she was equally at fault … i am saying “equally” only coz she considers him to be a stubborn man (i guess she did) .. And didnt she already know how loving he was .. that his love was so true and deep.. wasnt that the sole reason that attracted her ? And its not so easy to wipe off the memories that Garett had of Catherine.. It would be unfair to Catherine (though I know shez dead ).. Anyway there is no harm really to have some fond memories.. maybe Theresa was just a lil insecure .. She wanted Garett to be only hers.. but then again all this insecurity wasnt worth losing the man she loved ( Grow up Theresa 😛 ) To summarize… i just think Theresa was a tad too practical whereas Garett was very emotional..and thats why they reacted the way they did.

  4. I agree completely with that last line you said. I wonder how I missed that. Yes, she was way too practical for an emotional man like Garret. Like I already told you I was surprised when I asked you the very first time about what you thought about the book. I always knew that all the girls would be wanting to kill me after they read the review (just hypothtically speaking:-p) but I was surprised to hear an echo when you basically said the same thing I believed!!!

    Thanks alot for taking time out and reading the review AND letting me know about it:-)

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