Ah The Notebook, making women weep like new-borns and hold hopelessly high expectations of men since 1996. Let’s not beat around the bush here, Nicholas Sparks knows how to write romance. It’s not your run-of-the-mill, everyday romance either – it’s the all consuming, Disney-inspired, obstacle shattering kind that will send us to our graves as old maids because we refuse to accept anything less. Sparks’ debut novel is a short, sweet and idealistic story, which will have all the hopeless romantics out there reaching for the tissue box by the end.
Supposedly based on a true story, it begins with an elderly man reading to a woman in a nursing home who is suffering acutely from Alzheimer’s. He tells her the story of two young people, Noah and Allie, who fall in love only to be separated, though they never truly move on from each other. The book moves between Allie and Noah’s love story and the elderly man and woman’s present situation. It’s a tender and sentimental tale about true love, devotion to another and the power of the human spirit.
Reading a book after watching its film adaptation is strange. You know the complete story before you’ve read it; you can envisage the actors playing the characters and you can picture the setting as if you’ve been there yourself. I unapologetically adore the film version of The Notebook, so expectations were high for the book. Whilst it lived up to the undying romance, it fell short without Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdam’s chemistry. The book simply fails to illustrate the on-screen magnetism that was created between the characters on film.
That, however, is my only gripe. The Notebook is simply written and even the slowest reader can breeze through it in a single day. Sparks’ words are wonderfully poetic, perhaps a little too soppy for some, though it spoke to the romantic soul in me. The descriptions of the setting and time period are vivid and precise – Sparks paints a beautifully genteel picture of North Carolina post World War 2 and left me with a sense of longing for a place I’ve never been to. This is the mark of a good writer. The love story is a little on the corny side, but it’s heart-warming and poignant. The end is particularly moving, depicting the frailty of life and the inevitability of old age and illness.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Notebook and believe many critics are too harsh on it. Nicholas Sparks reached into my chest and gave my heart a good wrench with this book. It’s not an earth shattering story, but it had me bawling as I finished the final page. I rarely tear up at books, so this is quite an accomplishment. Sparks is one of the best writers of romantic fiction in contemporary literature; it’s just a shame that the film adaptations generally overshadow his books.