Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Longest Ride' Hits a Dead End for Romance Fan Tales of an Elderly Married Couple and Young Lovers Fail to Generate Any Sparks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Longest Ride' Hits a Dead End for Romance Fan Tales of an Elderly Married Couple and Young Lovers Fail to Generate Any Sparks

Article excerpt

"THE LONGEST RIDE"

By Nicholas Sparks

Grand Central Publishing ($27)

Nicholas Sparks' new novel "The Longest Ride" tells two love stories. One is the love story of Ira Levinson, a Jewish haberdasher in Greensboro, N.C., and his wife, Ruth, who came to North Carolina from Vienna when Hitler's atrocities were merely speculation.

The other story is the budding romance of Luke, a North Carolina rancher and champion bull rider, and Sophia, a Wake Forest art history student who was raised by immigrant parents in New Jersey.

Ira's story is revealed as he is trapped in his car following a skidding accident that results in his car careening over the guardrail and down an embankment.

Wedged in the vehicle with severe injuries, dehydrated and in pain, Ira sees Ruth as she ages and tells of their young courtship, his military service as a flight navigator during WWII, their subsequent marriage, and the heartbreak and devotion that is part of a union that lasts until Ruth's death nine years earlier.

Sophia, a relatively sheltered college sorority girl, is recovering from a bad breakup from the cheating Brian. Her roommate, Marcia, encourages her to attend a bull riding contest nearby. At the party after, Sophia feels Brian's intimidating stare from across the barn, so she moves to an outside ring to collect her thoughts.

Luke is also deep in thought, but that is interrupted by Brian's aggressive moves toward Sophia. Luke intervenes, and he and Sophia begin an easy conversation that develops into an easy relationship. Luke, however, has a secret that relates to his fear of riding a bull named Big Ugly Critter.

Eventually, the secret, and the danger Luke faces become more of an obstacle than the social differences between the cowboy and the college girl, and their relationship falls apart.

When I began reading this book, and knowing my daughters would be familiar with the films, I asked them if this is the same guy who wrote the book that became the movie with James Garner and Ryan Gosling ("The Notebook") and the one with Mandy Moore and Shane West ("A Walk to Remember"). …

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