Review: MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE By Nicholas Sparks

Book and Movie Review

TITLE: Message in a Bottle
AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks
GENRE: Adult, Romance, Chick Lit
PUBLISHED: April 1st 1998 by Grand Central Publishing


(Courtesy of Goodreads-No Spoilers!)

Thrown to the waves, and to fate, the bottle could have ended up anywhere. Instead, it is found just three weeks after it begins its journey. Theresa Osborne, divorced and the mother of a twelve-year-old son, discovers it during a seaside vacation from her job as a Boston newspaper columnist. Inside is a letter that opens with, "My Dearest Catherine, I miss you my darling, as I always do, but today is particularly hard because the ocean has been singing to me, and the song is that of our life together." 

For Garrett, the message is the only way he knows to express his undying love for a woman he has lost. For Theresa, wary of romance since her husband shattered her trust, the message raises questions that intrigue her. Challenged by the mystery, and driven to find Garrett by emotions she does not fully understand, Theresa begins a search that takes her to a sunlit coastal town and an unexpected confrontation. Brought together either by chance or something more powerful, 

Theresa and Garrett's lives come together in a tale that resonates with our deepest hopes for finding everlasting love. Shimmering with suspense and emotional intensity, Message in a Bottle takes readers on a hunt for the truth about a man and his memories, and about both the heartbreaking fragility and enormous strength of love. 


A bottle thrown into the ocean could have ended up anywhere. This one ended up washing ashore for Theresa to find. It changes her life not only when she reads the message, but when she tries to find the man who had written the beautiful letter that starts with: "My Dearest Catherine, I miss you my darling, as I always do, but today is particularly hard because the ocean has been singing to me, and the song is that of our life together...."

Anytime I read a book by Nicholas Sparks I know I will get to experience the beach. I love the fact that he includes his passion for the sea in the majority of his novels. In MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE he not only took us to the beach, he took us on the ocean in a sailboat—beautiful descriptions. (Thanks Nick!)

There was an obvious contrast of city life and small town life. You can feel the difference in each location, through the tempo of the characters lives, the sights and sounds that were described.

I could have been Theresa. I felt her pain. I felt her curiosity. She is pushed into finding Garrett (which I wouldn’t have needed a push.) Garrett was a mystery. I like knowing what people are thinking and look forward to reading books written in omniscient/limited omni. I was glad to know how he felt. It made my heart hurt to watch him struggle with having to move on after the death of his spouse. His struggle seemed so real and even made me struggle with the idea of him moving on.

I love romance stories that are tasteful with strong and original storylines. This is one of those stories. I loved Garrett’s letters. They were filled with truth, passion and intimacy.

Garrett’s dad was such a great character. (Nicholas Sparks always writes interesting dads.) He said very little but what he did say was genuine and to the point. He didn’t mess around. Why he didn’t show up more is a mystery to me.


I’d rate this book right in the middle. 3. A Good read. Simply, it was a good story.

MOVIE TITLE: Message in a Bottle
GENRE: Adult, Drama, Romance
RELEASE DATE:  February 12, 1999
STARING: Kevin Costner, Robin Wright, Paul Newman


In reading the book first we get so much detail into the lives of Theresa and Garrett. But then you sit down to watch MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE movie (Released in 1999) there’s so much left out, so much background that book gives and movie doesn't. I’m sure as a standalone movie it would work. But I read the book first and was bothered by how MUCH they changed in the movie. I can understand changing a few things in the storyline to make it shorter. But they changed weird things, like Theresa’s home town, Garret was not a scuba instructor, the name of Theresa’s son. (In the book it was Kevin, and in the movie it was Jason—I don’t get it.)

They also removed an entire character, an important character: Deanna, her boss. They were best friends and had an interesting relationship. She was the one who helped find Garret and pushed Theresa to find him. It was odd that they replaced her character with some sexist boss. It was a strange choice. I think they may have done it to add more conflict to the story.


One thing they did change, which I absolutely LOVED… (Nick should have thought of it for the book!) Was when Garret found out about the letters in Theresa’s drawer. He had only written two. He didn’t write the third one. AWESOME!! (Yes, I’m sharing spoilers because this movie came out in 1999 and you should have seen it already, so get over it!) His dead wife had written one of the letters. What a great twist for the movie. It held my interest even though I knew the ending.

The end was tragic and disappointing. I thought they might make it a happy ending, but no.


So I have to rate this movie at a 2: Fair: Not quite worth watching. I think as a standalone movie that it would probably work. But even the book wasn’t that excellent.