Customer Reviews: The Notebook
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on March 15, 2002
Nicholas Sparks has become famous for writing the sweet and tender love story that appeals to the romantic in all of us. He doesn't disappoint with "The Notebook" as he weaves the tale of two teenagers, Noah and Allie, who meet one fateful summer and fall in love. Since the course of true love is never smooth, it should come as no surprise that Allie's parents do not approve of her relationship with Noah. He does not have the education, money, or social prominence they wish for their daughter. Allie and her parents move away and Noah writes to her for years, but after never receiving an answer gives up. WWII comes, lives change, but one thing remains constant---neither Allie nor Noah can forget the other. As Noah's friend Gus tells him, first love changes your life forever and no matter what else happens in your life, the memory of it stays with you. And so it is that fourteen years later and three weeks before her wedding, Allie finds herself driving to New Bern to find Noah for reasons she herself does not fully understand. Their reunion proves once again that they are true soulmates, but it that enough? Can Allie forsake the "perfect mate" who has not only her love but also the approval of her parents? Can she walk out on Noah for a second time? Will Noah let her go? The story then skips to the nursing home where an 80-year old Noah resides and spends his time reading poetry to his fellow residents. But down the hall is a very special woman. The reader will be overcome with emotion as this relationship unfolds and the missing pieces of Noah and Allie's story are revealed in the notebook he carries with him. Intensely romantic and a tribute to the power of true love, "The Notebook" will leave you emotionally spent and thankful to be so.
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on August 3, 1999
I borrowed this book since "Message in a Bottle" was unavailable at the library. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I brought it to work which was a major faux pas. The story touched my heart and spoke to me in a very strong way. The expressions of love, the devotion, and respect that the characters had for one another reminded me so very much of my relationship with my fiance. A few passages brought tears to my eyes, much to the consternation of my fellow workers and clients.
I so loved the simple, yet deep love story that Nicholas Sparks brought to life that I went out and purchased a copy for my fiance. I will give it to him on our wedding day and hope that our love like that of Noah and Allie will stand the test of time.
Incidentally I loaned a copy of this book to my younger sister and warned her to find a private place to read "The Notebook". She didn't listen to my advice and read it on the subway - much to the consternation of the other commuters. She in turn loaned it to her sister-in-law with the same warning...
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on May 5, 2000
After reading a Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, I had to dash off to the library and read The Notebook, which I read in one sitting. What can I say about the quintessential love story? Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, parents separate them and then they meet again years later, get married, and live happily ever after.
Only with Nicholas Sparks as the author, this story is different. You are immediately captivated into the story, reliving it, feeling it and savoring each and every emotion. It is a sensory experience reading this story and you feel like you become Noah or Allie, the main characters, the soul mates. By the end of the book, tears are sure to be shed, deep sighs emitted and then one is left thinking is such a love possible and where does one find a love like this?
This is a beautiful love story, with all the emotions to hook you from the get-go. The sensitivity of the author is clearly portrayed in Noah and Allie. Nicolas Sparks weaves his magic with this story, which is based on his wife's "beloved grandparents."
I absolutely loved this story and I am not a big romance reader. But I do love Nicholas Sparks' books and now have read all of them. If you are a hopeless or a hopeful romantic, then this book is a must read! As with all of Nicholas Sparks' books, keep a box of Kleenex handy - you are sure to use them!
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on September 11, 2000
Beautiful story of love that lives forever. Nicholas Sparks once again writes a little quick read story about love in a fairly common situation. Unlike "A Walk to Remember" the author gives the characters and the story a lot more depth.
Sparks has the ability to describe scenery and characters to my satisfaction. He doesn't get bogged down in useless characterizations or drawn out plots. He doesn't overwhelm the reader with excess research. He keeps his stories easy to read and not too complicated. As with his other books this is a couple hour read that allows the reader a little escapism without much thought.
I really enjoyed meeting Noah the local country boy who kept his past summer love in his heart and Allie who returned the love. It was also enjoyable to read about the lessons Noah's father had given him to help him mature into a real man. What can you say about a man who likes John Wayne, reads poetry and appreciates the small things in life, has a fit body and truely loves girl? What can you say about a girl who is a painter, comes from an upper crest family and appreciates the love others have for her?
When you have finished reading this story you will wipe your eyes of the welled up tears and realize you're smiling all along. It's a beautiful love story and a good read.
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on October 13, 2000
I have to admit, when I neared the end of the book, I was looking for more information about what happened in between the initial romance and the ending days of their lives. But I realize now that the book needed to leave that less understood because it gave an easy to guess story a little more excitement and room for speculation. This has to be one of the most touching love stories that I have ever read. If you have ever encountered Alzheimer's within your family, this book may hit so close to home that it will scare you. Sparks is masterful at creating the perfect beginning to a love story. But his real genious is in the ending of the love story. You look at the whole situation in the storyline and can safely say that these two people had what most people can only find by reading a book like this: emotional, passionate, exciting, overwhelming love. I am so pleased that someone finally wrote a love story that actually feels like it could be real.
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on December 1, 1999
I have just finished reading The Notebook and the reviews posted on this site. Generally books do not greatly move me emotionally, but this one did. It is important to note that the characters and story are based on the lives of factual characters of that era. Having lived in that era, I know it is not as overly simplistic as some reviewers have stated. It really was a simpler time, even emotionally. I would say to the very negative reviewer: No undue focus was placed on the aging process; it is more likely that that is where your major focus was and, as a result, you resented the reality brought to those facts of aging.
I found the book to be the best I have read in a very long time and to be true to the era about which it was written. It reminded me very much of my own parents' story. During World War II, it was not uncommon for people to be separated for years, particularly if the individuals lived in a country that was occupied during the war. It was not uncommon for the man of the house to go to another country for years just to support his family. We just don't know today all the elements that KEPT other aspects of that era a simpler time, particularly emotionally.
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on August 9, 2004
Some women I work with recommended this book and said it was sure to make me cry. I read it with amazement that anyone would find this thin, heavily cliched writing worth crying over. It almost makes me cry to think that this bland mush is so popular. I was hoping for a story with character development, one that would demonstrate how love develops and lasts. Instead the writer keeps telling the reader how much Noah and Allie love each other without making the characters interesting or compelling in any way. They fall in love at first sight for some mystical reason, and keep their love strong (apparently without any conficlts for 49 years except Allie's final illness). The writer really cheated here. Instad of writing dialog that showed the depth of character of his protagonists, he fell back on hackneyed expressions that were not even well written. If you are easily amused and have time on your hands that you want to kill, read this book.
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on July 19, 2004
My dissatisfaction with this book may stem from the fact that I'm listening to it on tape, and thus can't skim through the dull bits and eruptions of poor writing.
In the first two tapes, the phrase, "S/he ran his/her hand through his/her hair" is repeated at least 5 times. Many other uninteresting, repetitive details choke the recitation of this wooden tale.
There may be a good story hiding in here, but it is decked over with stereotypes ("emerald-eyed" Allie, "muscular" Noah), poor writing (all that messed-up hair!), and miscellaneous goop. The only remotely interesting character is Clem the 3-legged dog, but even she can't give this dull book some "legs."
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on February 22, 1999
What intrigues me is the number of five-star reviewers who seem to think that folks like me who dislike this book are hopeless, heartless cynics who have obviously never been in love. I might gently suggest that a lot of these reviewers are confusing giddy teenage infatuation with the idea of being in love to real, mature love. Mature love is not about magically finding your one "soulmate" (to use the currently fashionable blather) among the six billion on this planet. (We're supposed to give up Santa and Cinderella at eight.) Rather, it is about caring, willful commitment to people we occasionally can't even stand. If, as a number of reviewers have suggested, this book represents deep insight into the "true heart of a woman", the feminists must be beyond despair, and there are going to be a lot of disappointed lives out there.

What escapes a lot of enthusiasts for this book is that the author is essentially telling the poor drudges over at Iowa Writer's to forget their MFA's; if you want to be a successful (as opposed to great or even good) writer, get your MBA-marketing. Ironically (admittedly a distant concept to this author), that is exactly the advice philistine Lon would give Sensitive Poet Noah, while Allie sulks petulantly downstage right. Now, that's cynicism!
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Well, that's one author I can cross off my "to-read" list.

Noah and Allie fell in love one summer when he was 17 and she 15. She leaves, and fourteen years pass before Allie, now engaged, returns to Noah. Are they still in love? Will she marry her over-working fiance, with whom she shares a passionless relationship and who keeps her from pursuing her passion of art? Or will she choose Noah, the boy she spent a grand total of one summer with and lost her virginity to (and hasn't had sex with another man in the entire 14 years they've been apart)?

I see people enjoying this for primarily two reason:

1. You adore sappy romances where you can predict the plot from the beginning and have to keep a box of tissues nearby for the monsoon of tears that will be spilled. BONUS: You love the "Greatest Love of All Ages" ending with the couple in "present day" as 80 year-olds gasping on their death beds, clinging to each other's hands.

2. You love to participate in Bad Book Buddy Reads with an amazing compatriot. You love to groan as the plot points are written in big crayon pages before they appear, roll your eyes at the overwrought descriptions of love, and wince at Trio of Terrible Writing, Cardboard Characters, and Zero Subtlety.

Guess which one I was?

This book was bad; bad as in "so bad, it's good" category. Meaning, perfect for Bad Book Buddy Reads. And I was not disappointed - this book was a gold mine of snarkable material.

The characters are so flat, they are almost invisible. Noah is the Rugged Poet (who writes no poetry), giving him the duo combination of being Deep/Intellectual but also a man who works with his hands (he WORKS for a living gorrammit!). Allie is a Passionate Free-Spirit, who loves to paint and is therefore Deep and Artsy. The rest of the characters (what few of them even exist) are even worse (if that is possible); Lon is the Foil, Anne, Allie's mom, is the Voice of Inspiration, Gus is the Person of Color (no seriously, there is no reason he appears in this book). I get that this book is a mere 213 pages long in my edition, but come on! Fill the world with some color, why don't ya?

I was surprised at the progression of what passes for "story". I saw the movie, so I remember there was quite a bit of build-up between teenaged Allie and Noah along with the older people. The book totally skips over ANY sort of relationship building between the teenaged protagonists and instead starts the story with a HUGE backstory dump with Noah at 31 and Allie at 29! The problem is, we have spent NO TIME developing their romantic feelings for each other; instead, Allie is back to see Noah after 14 years!

By the way, if Noah and Allie were REALLY so deeply in love, why did it take them FOURTEEN YEARS to reunite? Why were they THAT surprised when Anne withheld Noah's letters (come on, Allie's parents weren't shy in letting Noah know they didn't like him!)? Noah tries ONCE in the 14 years to see Allie; that's it! If I'm going to buy this is the Greatest Love Story of All Time (which I don't), I need to see them pursuing it.

As for the "Greatest Love Story of All Time" - laughable. As I said, there is no chemistry between the two. Sparks relies on TELLING us (frequently!) how his characters burn for each other. That is NOT chemistry; that is a summary.

Last thing: I could not believe how awful the writing was. It was so boring! So simple! So fraught with telling and not showing. And I even spotted some grammar errors (tenses changing in mid-sentence and some unclear pronoun usage).

There aren't very many times I say this, but the movie was lightyears better than the book (and I wasn't even that big of a fan of the movie!). Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling did a great job at personifying the characters and, most importantly, conveying the Greatest Love of All Time. I guess you can give Sparks credit for being able to write a concept that would make a good movie, but when I read a book, I have certain criteria: namely characters, plot, writing. I also hate to say this, but some of the books I've really ranted against (*cough*Danse Macabre by LKH*cough*) look much better against the poor quality of this book.

If you are curious about this book, watch the movie. If you are a big sucker for sappy romances or love to snark with buddies, pick this book up!

Brought to you by:
*C.S. Light*
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