One of the things I love is reading. It is my favorite activity outside of writing. Since February is a month-long festival to romance, I reached into my stash in the closet under the stairs and pulled out a Nicolas Sparks book. He is a master when it comes to writing a good romance. I didn’t get far into Two by Two before I felt like the story became an autopsy of a dying marriage. The primary love story in the book is centered around the relationship between a father and his young daughter.
Quick Synopsis of Two By Two
The beginning plot of Two by Two seems to be your standard boy meets girl. They get married. She decides to quit work after she has the baby. The boy works hard at his job to support his family. Everything goes along as planned until he decides to go out on his own and start an advertising agency. The girl goes back to work, and trouble starts.
The conflict begins in Two By Two
Russ and Vivian seem to be the perfect couple. The reader senses there might be a little trouble in paradise early on because Vivian is a lady who likes to have things her way. Still, the relationship is manageable until Russ thinks there is a good possibility he might get fired. He decides to strike out on his own. The family needs to tighten their belts until he can bring in some clients.
Vivian finds a job with a developer, which requires her to do a lot of traveling. Russ finds himself playing Mr. Mom to his daughter, London, and attempting to bring in clients for his advertising business. It isn’t long before Vivian informs Russ she wants a divorce because she is sleeping with her new boss. As if the reader couldn’t see that one coming. Russ is now jobless and wifeless.
Russ is lucky to have a support system. His sister Marge and her wife help him get over some of the hurt. His mother and father are in the picture also. He runs into an old flame at his daughter’s art class. London happens to be the best friend of Emily’s son, Bodhi. Russ is your typical nice guy. He doesn’t start up with Emily until he is certain he is over his wife.
Someone must die in a Nicholas Sparks book
True to all Nicholas Sparks novels, someone has to die before the end. It is never the person you want it to be. I thought crashing the private plane Vivian flew all over the place with would have been a nice touch. Sadly, she lives until the bitter end. I won’t tell you who dies. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.
Highlights found in Two by Two
There were a lot of twists and turns in this novel. They were predictable. The reader suspected Vivian of having an affair even before the big reveal. You pretty much knew the person with the cough would die. I also believe there were two primary highlights for me.
The first occurred when Russ took London out for their first date night. This act signaled that he was committed to his role as a father and would fight to stay in his daughter’s life.
The second highlight for me was when he took Emily to her gallery opening. It meant he was getting over Vivian and could now move forward in his life.
Story Development in Two by Two
I loved the way Sparks developed the story in this novel. The account is told from Russ’ point of view. Every chapter opens with a small story from his past associated with the events that are about to unfold. I loved the way it started with the birth of London and followed the stages of her life. This opening made her the central character of the unfolding story. The adults are actors on life’s stage, hovering around the child. Even the title is taken from London’s favorite book. Russ’s actions at the end of the book, which brings about a happy ending, center around London.
Worldbuilding in Two by Two
The upper-middle-class North Carolina stage Sparks places his characters in seems very realistic. I could picture the houses and the neighborhood where Russ and London go bike riding in my mind.
Magic System found in Two by Two
There isn’t much of a magic system in this novel since it is based in a realistic modern-day world. Russ’s mother does have a premonition of cancer affecting her family once again. She even has dreams about the dreaded disease.
Evaluation of the Characters in Two by Two
I liked the majority of the characters I found in this book. Every little girl needs a daddy like Russ. Marge is the perfect big sister, and mom and dad are great. Liz is the ideal spouse for Marge. I rooted for Russ to fall for Emily the second she made an appearance on the pages. The kids in the story are sweet.
The exception to the rule is Vivian. There were times I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and punch her in the face.
Overall Opinion of Two By Two
This book was not what I expected when I pulled it out of the closet under the stairs. I anticipated a sappy love story, but what I found between its pages was a romance about a father’s love for his daughter. I’m glad Two by Two took this unexpected turn. I enjoyed this book more than any other I’ve previously read by this author. I highly recommend it for every father who loves his daughter and every daughter who has an awesome dad. Those of us who experienced less than the ideal can live vicariously while reading this story. Isn’t that what makes a good book so perfect?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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