The genesis of a novel is always a tricky process, and The Wedding had the longest genesis of any novel I’ve yet written, and was based on two separate ideas that had been floating around in my head for years.
The first idea was fairly obvious, and I’ve been toying around with the idea of a sequel or follow-up to The Notebook ever since the novel was published. Even now, readers still talk to me about that novel and the memories of Noah and Allie still linger in their imagination. I thought it would be fun to revisit those characters – both for myself, and for the readers – but it was easier said than done because I hadn’t originally written The Notebook with the intent of a sequel in mind. For those who’ve read the novel – and know how it ends – you’ll understand this point, and frankly, I didn’t know where to take the story after the final scene. None of my ideas for the “sequel” were as moving as the original story had been, and I didn’t want to diminish the first story by publishing something less than meaningful. For a while, I thought I could write a story about the middle years of Noah and Allie’s life, since I’d neglected those years in The Notebook. But that wasn’t really a sequel, it was more of a “fill-in-the-blank” type of story, and again, nothing I could come up with seemed quality enough to pursue.
At the same time this story was fermenting in my mind, I began thinking about the theme of love and renewal. In other words, I wanted to create a love story between a married couple, one in which the husband decides to court his wife all over again. I thought this would be a story that not only original to readers, but one that they might find relevant as well. Marriage is both the most wonderful and frustrating experiences of most people’s lives. No one’s marriage is perfect, and no one’s marriage is always easy. For these reasons, I find great nobility in people who work to improve their marriage and do their best to keep the romance in their marriage.
People have often written about couples like Wilson and Jane, couples that have simply drifted apart. Yet all too often, these stories center around adultery, and adultery isn’t a topic I wanted to explore. I find nothing romantic about adultery and nothing wonderful about stories that make adultery seem magical and beautiful. Morally, I believe that adultery is wrong, and I don’t want to write such a story.
Love and renewal, while seemingly easy on the surface, was more challenging than I thought it would be. I began such a novel in the spring of 2000 and wrote nearly 175 pages before I realized that the story wasn’t going anywhere, and I set the book aside to write A Bend in the Road instead. Still, however, the idea stayed with me.
In 2002, these two ideas – a follow-up to The Notebook, and the theme of love and renewal—merged, and soon afterwards, with the story taking shape in my mind, I began to write.