I have several favourites but the book I have chosen to speak about is The Notebook.
The reason I most like this book is it is about two things, the fragility of human life but also the strength of human life to persevere when troubles seem impossible to surmount.
It’s a small novel and a simple one as reading goes, that deals with a subject of great complexity and not one usually favoured for movie depiction. I had seen the movie and enjoyed it for it’s slightly different approach to what we usually perceive as romance.
The novel is two stories in one, the first about two young lovers, one rich, one poorer fluctuating, from the female point of view, if they should be together.
The second story is about two older people who have lost their connection.
Unlike most romances that end with youthful protagonists looking out towards the future fairytale romance this one looks at older protagonists looking back at that fairytale romance. This novel teaches us about real love with all it’s burdens as well as the pleasures.
Such is the emphasis on the former it is amazing that Hollywood picked it to make into a movie.
The novel doesn’t flinch at talking about the hard parts of love. What does one do when a husband or wife is experiencing the frightening onset of dementia? The book is about loss but also about breaking through to recognition.
We see the young Noah, an athletic Adonis, strong and indestructible into a real human being, prey to all the frailties a human is prey to, helplessness against a condition like dementia and his own constricting condition of arthritis.
The name Noah is well suited to him as he is someone that loves the sea and canoe trips and in one pivotal scene takes Allie away from a flood of rain!
We see an intelligent and creative artist in Allie strong and then weak with human frailties as she becomes a stranger to her husband and children.
It’s kind of pleasant to realise this novel is written by a man! That Nicholas Sparks has tapped into writing romance in just the way his female readers will be delighted with.
In Noah we have a true hero, a man of action that canoes into Allie’s life but also demonstrates an incredible devotion and attentiveness to his wife in attempting to bring her back from the cold cocoon she has wrapped herself within.
The ending is hopeful without being saccharine.
It may be a short and simply wrought novel but it shows in it’s succinctness. the most important lessons, the strength of true love past initial romance to something paradoxically stronger as the protagonists grow weaker.
Ironically for a book that concerns itself with memory recaptured through words, letters and a notebook, in the end it proves that real recognition between two soul mates is a mystery that needs no words.
The Australian Literature Review