The Notebook Summary
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The Notebook, a 1996 novel written by Nicholas Sparks, focuses on the romance, as it unfolds over half a century, between Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson, two young Southerners who meet for the first time as teenagers. The lovers overcome many obstacles, including Allie’s disapproving family, to be together. At the time of its release, the novel received mixed critical reviews but was extremely popular with readers, spending fifty-six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2004, the novel was adapted into a film starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling.
The novel is narrated by an 80-year-old man in a nursing home. The nameless narrator wears a sweater that his daughter knit for him thirty years ago, and warns the reader that the tale he is about to tell could be seen as either a love story or a tragedy, depending on one’s perspective. He walks down the hall of the nursing home to another room, where an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease lies sobbing in bed. After chatting with the nurses, the old man sits down and begins reading a story to the woman from a notebook.
The story begins in October 1946, when a young man named Noah Calhoun returns to his hometown of New Bern, North Carolina, to repair an old, abandoned house he has purchased. Thirty-one-year-old Noah has recently returned home from fighting in World War II. With just his guitar and an old hound dog named Clementine for company, Noah is feeling kind of lonely when 29-year-old Allie Nelson, his former lover, shows up at his door.
Noah and Allie first met fourteen years ago in New Bern and had a brief summer romance before Allie moved away with her family. Allie’s wealthy parents did not think that Noah, a poor lumberyard worker, was a suitable match for her. After finding out that Noah is single, Allie admits that she is engaged to a man named Lon and will be married in three weeks. Noah invites Allie to stay for a crab dinner. When they go down to the dock to look in the crab cages, they see the message “Noah loves Allie” that Noah had carved into the dock fourteen years ago.
As he prepares dinner, Noah asks Allie why she did not reply to any of the letters he wrote her over the years. She explains that she never saw them because her mother, who disapproved of Noah’s social class, kept them from her. Allie tells Noah that she came to find him after reading a newspaper clipping about his restoration of the house. Over the course of the conversation, Noah reveals that his best friend, Fin, was killed in the war, while Allie tells Noah that she no longer paints. When Allie leaves at the end of the evening, she rebuffs a kiss from Noah but promises to meet him again the next day.
Allie’s fiancé Lon, a lawyer, attempts to call her many times at her hotel, but she ignores him. After visiting an art gallery and rediscovering her love for painting, Allie meets Noah at the river and the two paddle a canoe to a small, peaceful lake filled with geese and swans. It begins to rain as they head back to Noah’s house, and they are soaked by the time they reach it. Noah gives Allie some of his dry clothes to wear, and the two warm themselves in front of the fire and share a drink. Noah tells Allie that he still loves her, and the two rekindle their romance, making love.
The next day at noon, Allie’s mother, Anne, comes to Noah’s house and warns the couple that Lon is coming to New Bern to find Allie since she has not answered his calls. She brings all of Noah’s letters that she had withheld from her daughter over the past fourteen years and gives them to Allie. She explains that she was just trying to protect Allie’s best interests by keeping the couple apart, and before leaving, advises her daughter to follow her heart. Noah begs Allie to stay with him, but Allie says she does not know if she could.
They kiss and embrace one more time, and Allie drives back to the hotel where she is staying. When Allie arrives in the parking lot, she notices Lon’s car parked there. Before going out to meet him, she reads the very last letter that Noah wrote to her professing his love and promising to always cherish the memories that they had together. After reading the letter three times, Allie gets out of the car to go speak to Lon. It is not revealed what she says to him or which man she ultimately chooses to stay with.
The novel then flashes back to the nursing home, where the elderly narrator finishes reading from the notebook. We learn that the woman suffering from Alzheimer’s is his wife, whom he has been married to for the past forty-nine years, and that she is dying from the disease. The woman, who does not recognize her husband due to her condition, asks whether he wrote the story himself. The old man replies that he did. The woman asks him which man the woman in the story chose to marry, and the narrator replies that she will find out by the end of the day. Although the narrator refers to himself and his wife as Duke and Hannah, it is implied that the couple is really an elderly Noah and Allie.
The Notebook is the story of a romance between two young people, and the power of love to endure over time, separation, and social class differences. The novel also examines in depth the themes of free will, destiny, and choice. The two lovers are initially separated by forces outside their control, such as the war and Allie’s disapproving parents. When they eventually find each other again, however, it is up to Allie to make the choice that will decide their fate as a couple. Finally, the story emphasizes the idea of aging and the natural changes that everyone undergoes over time; the good moments in life are as transient as the tides of a river, so it is important to enjoy them while they last and hold on to the memories.
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The Notebook ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas sparks is a contemporary love story set in the pre- and post-World War II era. Noah and Allie spend a wonderful summer together, but her family and the socio-economic realities of the time prevent them from being together. Although Noah attempts to keep in contact with Allie after they are forced to separate, his letters go unanswered. Eventually, Noah professes his undying and eternal love in one final letter. Noah travels north to find gainful employment and to escape the ghost of Allie, and eventually he goes off to war.
After serving his country, he returns home to restore an old farmhouse. A newspaper article about his endeavour catches Allie’s eye, and 14 years after she last saw Noah, Allie returns to him. The only problem is she is engaged to another man. After spending two wonderful reunion days together, Allie must decide between the two men that she loves. This story is framed by a contemporary man who is reading to a woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The woman is understood to be Allie… but which of her two loves is the man reading to her?
Noah first appears in the novel as an 80 year old man in a nursing home who is reading to his wife Allie, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and does not recognize him. He is also ill, battling a third cancer, and suffering heart disease, kidney failure, and severe arthritis in his hands. He is reading a notebook written by Allie about their life together. When Allie found out about her illness she wrote in the notebook and she left with instructions for Noah to “read this to me, and I’ll come back to you”, but soon Allie relapses, losing her memories of Noah. I understand, for she doesn’t know who I am. I’m a stranger to her. ” The effects of Alzheimer’s disease lead Allie to not know who Noah was. No matter how hard he tried to get her to remember him it never worked. So naturally he always felt like a stranger to her. In many regards, Noah was the ideal man, he was faithful, idealistic, strong, good looking, a poet and helpful to those in need. Throughout the story he develops and becomes more mature but he never loses these traits. This is shown when Allie returns to the see him after seeing that he had restored the house, to which he always said he would.
He never got fought or argued with her about the day she left and he never got mad when she brought up the fact that she was engaged to another man. “‘I’m engaged’ he looked down when she said it, suddenly feeling just a bit weaker. So that was it. That was what she needed to tell him. ‘Congratulations’ he finally said, wondering how convincing he sounded. ” He was heartbroken when she told him she was engaged. He still loved her and could not help but wonder if Allie truly loved Lon or if she was merely trying to convince herself that she did.
After spending the night together, Noah and Allie also shared the next morning. The morning was spent eating breakfast, making love, doing chores, talking, and even staring at one another. After lunch there was knock on the door, and Noah was shocked to see Allie’s mother, Anne. She claims that she came because she had to. The same reason she assumed that Allie came to New Bern. She revealed that Lon called her the night before to ask about Noah and she tells Allie that he was also on his way to New Bern. “‘What do you mean you had to come?
Don’t you trust me? ’ Anne turned back to her daughter. ‘This had nothing to do with trust. This has to do with Lon. He called the house last night to talk to me about Noah, and he’s on his way here right now. He seemed very upset. I thought you’d want to know. ’” Anne knew Allie would be in New Bern with Noah because she saw he reaction to the newspaper article about Noah restoring the house. She knew Allie was still in love with Noah and she felt that she had to do something Allie from leaving Lon for Noah because Anne thought it wouldn’t be good for her.
She thought that she would be better off with Lon because he came from a very wealthy background and Noah was not. At the end of the story Noah returns to being an old man reading the notebook to his wife Allie. At this point in the story we don’t yet know that it is Noah who has been reading to her because we haven’t yet been told who Allie had chosen to be with. He reveals that he has been married for almost 49 years, and although he is not supposed to see his wife at night, he sometimes breaks this rule. He knows that Allie is dying, though she does not. As he talks about his experiences, he quotes from a poem.
Then he talks about visiting and reading to other residents. After finishing reading from the notebook, he takes his wife’s hand. She asks if he wrote the story and he admits he did. She asks which one did she marry, and he replies that she will know by the end of the day. He is convinced this day is going to be a good day. His wife does not know who he is, and thus she asks who he is. It is extremely significant that Noah lied to Allie and said his name was Duke and hers was Hannah. Many people believe that perception is reality. And Noah needs Allie to be as calm as possible.
He knows that reading to her sometimes enables her to remember who she is, who he is, and remember their life together, but those times are few and far between, And because Noah is not initially certain whether she is going to have a good day, a miracle, he plays the part of a man who loves and cares for her, even if he cannot tell her his real name. This illustrates an interesting concept, that actions are neither right nor wrong, they merely are, and it is the context in which an action takes place that determines the appropriateness or inappropriateness of it.
Noah’s lie to Allie is a lie told out of love and respect and so, cannot be considered wrong. Noah then takes the reader through the exact experience that Noah has, just as readers are enjoying the reunion between Allie and Noah, for her mind and memories have returned, and Allie and Noah experience a day of being in love with one another, and it is a reunion for readers too. Readers already have experienced the beautiful love relationship once and enjoy being a part of another miracle. Yet, as quickly as Noah and Allie are reunited, it is taken away from them and from the readers.
Instead of an ideal reunion, readers experience the image of two people who need consoling. “A woman shaking in fear from demons in her own mind, and the old man who loves her more deeply than life itself, crying softly in the corner. ” This powerful scene evokes empathy for Noah in all readers, as we feel the anguish he feels, and we understand why Noah feels so alone. The next morning, a nurse finds them in bed together, having both died peacefully holding each other’s hands. ‘The Notebook’ written by Nicholas Sparks, is told on two levels. One is the present day when Allie and Noah have grown old and live in a nursing home.
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The other is the story Noah reads from the notebook in which he tells how he and Allie met, fell in love, lost each other, and then found each other again. The end of their love story is tragically altered by Allie’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but even that has no power over their love. The mood is at times troubling and even quite sad, because of the disease that is claiming Allie’s mind. However, there is a sense of victory, in spite of the inevitability of Allie’s future, because in the end, love wins, no matter how hard life tries to make it not so.
Author: Brandon Johnson
‘the Notebook’ Book Summary
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