The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
1996 Grand Central Publishing
Finished in February 1998
Rating: 3/5 (Fair)
A man with a faded, well-worn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn't understand. Until he begins to read to her. The Notebook is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever. Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories. . . until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments, and fundamental changes that affect us all. Shining with a beauty that is rarely found in current literature, The Notebook establishes Nicholas Sparks as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters.
From the author's website:
It wasn’t easy to come up with the plot for my first (published) novel, but in the end, I decided to go with something that I knew I could do.
The Notebook was inspired by my wife’s grandparents, two wonderful people who spent over 60 years together. My wife was very fond of these two people—the other set of grandparents had died when she was young—and she was one of those people who loved to visit on the weekends, growing up. When she turned sixteen, as soon as she got her license, she would drive up to visit them on the weekends and even when she went off to college (about two hours away) she still went to visit them a couple of times a month just to check on them, to make sure they had groceries, and all those things a nice granddaughter would do.
Since they were so special to her, my wife was, of course, looking forward to having these two people involved in her wedding. But, unfortunately, the day before the wedding, we got a call and were told that the grandparents wouldn’t be able to attend. Even though they were only forty minutes away by car and someone else could drive them, they were in such ill health that their doctor recommended they stay at home. My wife was very sad about that, but the day was so hectic, she did her best to put it out of her mind. I guess it finally struck home for her when she was standing in the back of the church and getting ready to walk down the aisle. In the back of the church was a small table and on the table was a box that had been brought by the florist. It contained the corsages and boutonnieres for the wedding party and our parents, but as she was standing there, she couldn’t help but notice there were two flowers left untouched—those that had been meant for the grandparents.
We went through the ceremony and reception, we talked to family and danced, did all those typical things, and went back to the hotel. When I woke the next morning, my wife rolled over and met my eyes, looking just about as beautiful as I’d ever seen a woman look.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“Of course I do,” I whispered, wondering why she asked.
“Well good,” she said, clapping her hands and speaking in an authoritarian tone. “Then you’re going do something for me.”
“Yes ma’am,” I said.
My Original Notes (1998):
At first I didn't care for this book. It began very clumsily and I found it difficult to feel anything toward the main characters. Sparks' descriptions seemed too superficial, glossing over their thoughts and feelings. But, as the book progressed, I found myself relating to the characters, feeling their love (and confusion) in their relationship. The last part of the book, however, was terribly predictable and unbelievable. I wasn't moved to tears at all. In many ways, it read like a Danielle Steel novel written by a man. Ho-hum.
My Current Thoughts:
This may be the one and only book by Sparks that I've read. Not my thing.