The Best Love Story Ever

Posted: May 6, 2012 in Book Review, Entertainment, refreshment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me. Once, when she specifically lumped me with those musical types, I asked her what the order was, and she replied, smiling, ‘Alphabetical.’ At the time I smiled too. But now I sit and wonder whether she was listing me by my first name — in which case I would trail Mozart — or by my last name, in which case I would edge in there between Bach and the Beatles. Either way I don’t come first, which for some stupid reason bothers hell out of me..”

It has been more than 10 years, probably more than 12, since I read those lines for the first time. I can still quote it word for word, any given day, no matter how bad the day has been. Love Story. By Erich Segal. Before I read the book, someone told me that an entire dorm in some Ivy League place had phoned Erich Segal one night, in tears, to ask why Jenny had to die. After I was finished with the book, I didn’t blame them. I wanted to do the same.

Oliver Barett IV, handsome harvard jock and campus hero, born into immense wealth and stature. His family, through generations, having donated a lot of buildings to Harvard and his father having expected nothing but the best from him all along and taking it for granted when he had succeeded in meeting those expectations consistently.

Jennifer Cavilleri, a smart, feisty and lively Radcliffe student majoring in Music. An American of Italian descent, brought up by and living with her devout catholic father Phil. Jennifer is the firecracker who lives everyday like there’s no tomorrow, the beauty with brains who never fails to come up with a devastating one liner.

The two of them meet at the Radcliffe Library one afternoon and sparks fly. Before you know it, they have been to a couple of Hockey games, fallen in love, Oliver has fought with his father and walked out of his money, the two of them have gotten married and the happy couple has shifted to New York. And again, before you can catch your breath, Jenny is dead and the story has ended. Don’t bother shouting “Spoiler! Spoiler!” The beauty of Love Story, ironically, is not in the story, but in the way the story has been told. The book does not have one single bland sentence, one that it could have managed without. Every one has an impact on you. They would make you chuckle in one instant, hold your breath in the next, and bring tears to your eyes in yet another one. The conversation between the couple is awesome, the supporting characters perfect, the main characters out of this world.

Oliver with his pride and insecurities and his grim struggle to get out of his father’s shadow, the loving, caring, doting Phil, the formidable Oliver Barrett III and his struggle to hold on to his dear son on one hand and to satisfy his ego and his pride on the other, and above all, the bewitching, beautiful, witty, smart, blunt, naughty Jenny with all her beauty  and wit and charm and her smashing one-liners.

Sample this, ”  ‘Jenny, we’re legally married!’
‘Yeah, now I can be a bitch.’ ”

It might seem pointless to write about Love Story, as it is a book that most of us have already read. However, the purpose of this article is not to be a review. Me reviewing Erich Segal would be blasphemy anyway. This is more of a tribute. I have been a fan of Segal for a long time now. In my opinion, Love Story is not even his best work or his best novel. That honor would go to The Class or Acts of Faith, two other of his creations I’ll never forget. Love Story, however, is different. While it’s probably not his best story, it has to be the best writte. You have to read it to feel it.

Most of you, I’m sure, have read it already. If you’re literate and you have not, believe me, you should.

  1. anuspace says:

    A lovely tribute to a masterpiece of a novel. The opening and ending lines cause a lump in my throat every time I read them, or even think of them.
    What is amazing is that this is a rare case where the movie came first. Segal had written the script and screenplay, and it was while the movie was being made that he thought of turning it into a novel. “Love Story” was fittingly released on February 14, 1970, and the rest as they say is history. It is interesting to think that maybe if it had not been for the stupendous success of this novel, Segal might not have gone on to give us other masterpieces.
    I have seen the movie and even though it was numero uno of the box office in 1970, the book shines so brightly that the movie version pales in comparison.
    Another of his books that is a personal favourite is “Only Love”. Not too many people might have read it but every time I read it, I can actually hear the music from the pages in my head. How many books can claim to do that?

  2. My personal favorite is The Class. It’s an incredibly rich story. One other is Acts of Faith. The book is entirely about religion and religious practices, quite a few of them. And yet, there is something so deep and passionate about that book that it moved and shook even a fanatical atheist like me.

  3. anuspace says:

    Anytime 🙂
    I’m sure you’ll love it!! 🙂

  4. anuspace says:

    I am yet to read those two.. Did not know that you were a fanatical atheist 🙂

  5. anuspace says:

    Bad is very opinionated adjective 🙂
    I would say being an atheist is matter of personal opinion, so that is perfectly alright. However being fanatic about it means having a box mentality and not being open to other views, so that would be wrong.

  6. No, seriously. I don’t go around throwing bombs in churches or temples or chanting “Death to the Believers!!” 🙂 My fanaticism is to the extent that I am so convinced on this point that I’m not even open to a discussion.

  7. anuspace says:

    Ahem.. Exactly what I mean by box mentality na? See.. being a believer or a non-believer is basically all grounded in the “belief’. And what is belief but a vague idea or conviction? It requires no proof, just faith. Now as people change and/ or undergo different experiences, opinions and belief system changes. So unless, you can claim that you shall never EVER change, how can you be so rock-firm on your belief not changing??
    Not being open to discussion could also mean not giving the basic space and respect to another person’s belief, and again that would be rude. 🙂

    • I respect other persons’ belief. I don’t want them trying to change mine, Hence the no-no to discussions. I believe in God’s non-existence as a scientific fact, not a matter of faith. I am familiar with the theory that faith in God doesn’t require proof, just faith itself. That, precisely, is why I don’t buy it. I subscribe to a far simpler theory : If something sounds to good to be true, it always is. The idea of God fits that description admirably. Then again, this is my personal opinion. Not intended to influence or hurt someone else, especially not you.

  8. anuspace says:

    🙂 Dont worry. I am too secure in my belief system to be hurt by someone not prescribing to the same. In fact I like having a belief system all to me, it makes it more personal somehow.
    It’s just fun to play a Devil’s Advocate 😉

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