“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough..”
Sappy romantics will tell you that one of their favorite books turned into film is “The Notebook”. This book is an ageless classic that provides a unique love story to both the 20th & 21st century readers and audience. It should be noted that due to his tremendous and impressive work as the author of the book, Nicholas Sparks has managed to continue to achieve great success as an author and he has also continued to blow every readers’ minds away with his imaginative work.
Just like people before me, I watched the film first before reading the book, and once I did, I immediately fell in love with the story line and it immediately sky rocketed Nicholas Sparks to the very top of my “favorite authors of all time” list. So, in this post, I’ll review both the book and the film.
Summary: The Notebook is a tale about two young lovers named Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton. Allie visits the town of New Bern, North Carolina with her parents one summer before she goes away to college. During this visit, she meets and falls in love with a good-looking poet and country boy, named Noah. However, they couldn’t continue their romance past the summer because Allie’s parents did not approve of Noah, just because he isn’t as wealthy as they want. So, Allie’s parents force the two young lovers’ separation and ensure that Noah and Allie do not communicate again. After several years of being apart, their paths align once again and Allie finds herself drawn back to Noah, her first love, even if she is now engaged to a wealthy lawyer and politician, named Lon Hammond Jr. But, once Noah and Allie reconnected, they decide not to let each other go again and they end up getting married and finally achieving their dreams together. Sadly, this story doesn’t have a fairytale ending, as Allie in their later years together ends up with Alzheimer’s. A disease that is incurable and fast worsening. The real love story occurs, when despite Allie’s diagnosis and days when she doesn’t remember Noah or their life together, Noah still falls more and more in love with her each day, he continues to read to her the words written about their life together from a notebook. Some days when he reads to her, she remembers him but other days, she doesn’t and she becomes defensively aggressive towards him. Despite the hurt, the trials and events that have happened in both their lives, separately and together, Noah and Allie’s love binds them so strongly and that bond is willing to persevere the harshest of times.
The Novel (The Notebook, 1996):
This novel is often argued as the book that sky rocketed Nicholas Sparks career as an author and writer. I didn’t read this book until after 3 years of watching the film but I can honestly say that the book is definitely as good as the film. My only problems with the novel are that, Nicholas Sparks did not write enough dialogue between the characters. I find that, he mostly explained everything that was going on and there were very few dialogues. So, for an average reader it becomes tedious to read and follow after a while. However, for an English critic, one can clearly see Sparks’ compelling and impressive writing style shine through as he explained the life of Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton. I also find that Sparks didn’t really elaborate on the beautiful life of Noah and Allie in their early days together. He only summarizes a few paragraphs of how they met and why they met. Personally, I would have liked a bit more emphasis on their lives in their early days and in their later days before the diagnosis. But of course, that is just enclosing the readers in a box and not making them imagine and create a life for Noah and Allie the way they so choose. So I will commend Sparks for providing a platform for imagination. With that said, this book is phenomenal and it’s truly a unique love story because Noah’s love is tested beyond lengths of time – before they get married and during Allie’s ailment. I also have to praise the way Sparks developed the characters throughout the book. One can definitely see Noah’s character mature due to all the events that occurred in his life before he finally reconnected with Allie. As expected, Nicholas Sparks is a great writer, so it’s no news that his writing style in this book is nearly as perfect as expected.
The Film (The Notebook, 2004):
Many people identified more with the film than with the novel. Just like many other great films adapted from novels, the story line stayed true to the book, except the end scenes of each were slightly different. I find that the film depicted more of the lives of Noah and Allie before they got married. And this, I find very interesting to watch, simply because, a contrast can be seen between their first and early days together and the days when they finally reconnected after several years apart. One can adeptly notice that in the summer when Allie and Noah first met, they portrayed young love; very willing to showcase it to everyone, they felt extreme passion and emotions which is noticeable when they fight and make-up right away, and they lived in their own bubble, they didn’t talk about the reality of their different lives or what their lives will be like after the summer. All the two young lovers wanted to do, was be with each other and live in the moment. However, from the film, the life of Noah and Allie depicted after they had both matured and had achieved their different goals seemed to emphasize a more mature and dialed down love with less flamboyance.
I also have to commend the film for depicting very serious issues that society has faced and still continues to face. Sparks clearly showcased these serious issues in a romantic atmosphere, which can sometimes be very difficult to communicate. He showcased the nagging issue of marginalization in the society, where there still remains a visible distinction between people from the upper class and the lower class. He also illustrated the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the setbacks that patients with this disease often face.
Since this is indeed a film, the actors need to be tremendously praised. The two stars of the film are definitely Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Rachel portrays a very believable Allie Hamilton, the girl who is passionate, loving, accepting and content. And of course, Ryan steals every scene he is placed in with his charms and easy good looks. These two played accurate depictions of Noah and Allie so perfectly that it’s hard to picture anyone else as the two young love birds from the book. They were also able to act a love story set in the times during the war in the 20th century, which is sometimes very difficult to pull off in a film made in the 21st century.
Finally, I have to praise one of the unforgettable and unique love stories told by Sparks. This is because; the love story itself, between Noah and Allie is so distinct, unusual, persevering and alive. It makes every romantic hopeful, and fiction or not, everyone deserves a love story as great as Noah and Allie’s. What attracted me to this timeless classic is simply the amount of time the two young lovers spent apart, only to realize they still loved each other despite the passing of time.
The notebook is definitely recommended to both readers and lovers of romantic novels and films. If you are a romantic and you haven’t watched or read the notebook, I’ll advice that you start right away because it is both a good read and a great film. Feel free to leave comments if you have remarks about the author, the film and the novel.
Watch the film trailer below