AARP Eye Center
Nicholas Sparks, the author of hugely popular romantic novels such as his 1996 debut, The Notebook, is back with his 21st, The Return. Already at the top of the New York Times best-seller list, it's the story of Trevor Benson, an orthopedic surgeon who has PTSD from his service in Afghanistan. After his late grandfather leaves him his ramshackle old home and accompanying beehives in rural North Carolina, Trevor takes a break from his medical training in Baltimore to fix up the house and try to understand the mysterious circumstances behind his granddad's recent death. He's helped by Natalie Masterson, a deputy sheriff with aqua-blue eyes who steals his heart but, for some baffling reason, keeps him at arm's length.
We talked with Sparks about the new book, his career and how much he enjoys writing (not at all). Here's what we learned.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
The novel is set in New Bern, North Carolina, Sparks’ real-life hometown.
I've changed some of the names in the book, but anyone from New Bern will easily recognize exactly which store I'm talking about or Union Point Park or places like that. It's been a long time since I've written a novel set in New Bern. I think the previous one was The Wedding, which came out in 2003, so I figured it was time to let people know how much the town has changed since then.
He's gaga about bees.
I've always been fascinated by beekeeping and the people who do it. Anyone who keeps bees, they get transfixed because it's the most interesting society on the planet. Every bee has a job. And they're always busy. They're working and doing exactly what they're supposed to do. It's just amazing to watch. And in the book, for instance, when it says Trevor's grandfather would use a bee to sting his knees for his arthritis? I met a man in New Hampshire who did this as I watched. I said, “Oh, you do this every day?” And he said, “Every day, and it takes my arthritis pain away.” It's fascinating.
The Return is film ready (sort of).