Synopsis

A man with a faded, well-worn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn’t understand. Until he begins to read to her.  The Notebook is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever. Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories. . . until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments, and fundamental changes that affect us all. Shining with a beauty that is rarely found in current literature, The Notebook establishes Nicholas Sparks as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters.

thenotebook

    Inspiration for The Notebook

    It wasn’t easy to come up with the plot for my first (published) novel, but in the end, I decided to go with something that I knew I could do.

    The Notebook was inspired by my wife’s grandparents, two wonderful people who spent over 60 years together. My wife was very fond of these two people—the other set of grandparents had died when she was young—and she was one of those people who loved to visit on the weekends, growing up. When she turned sixteen, as soon as she got her license, she would drive up to visit them on the weekends and even when she went off to college (about two hours away) she still went to visit them a couple of times a month just to check on them, to make sure they had groceries, and all those things a nice granddaughter would do.

    Since they were so special to her, my wife was, of course, looking forward to having these two people involved in her wedding. But, unfortunately, the day before the wedding, we got a call and were told that the grandparents wouldn’t be able to attend. Even though they were only forty minutes away by car and someone else could drive them, they were in such ill health that their doctor recommended they stay at home. My wife was very sad about that, but the day was so hectic, she did her best to put it out of her mind. I guess it finally struck home for her when she was standing in the back of the church and getting ready to walk down the aisle. In the back of the church was a small table and on the table was a box that had been brought by the florist. It contained the corsages and boutonnieres for the wedding party and our parents, but as she was standing there, she couldn’t help but notice there were two flowers left untouched—those that had been meant for the grandparents.

    We went through the ceremony and reception, we talked to family and danced, did all those typical things, and went back to the hotel. When I woke the next morning, my wife rolled over and met my eyes, looking just about as beautiful as I’d ever seen a woman look.

    “Do you love me?” she asked.
    “Of course I do,” I whispered, wondering why she asked.
    “Well good,” she said, clapping her hands and speaking in an authoritarian tone. “Then you’re going do something for me.”
    “Yes ma’am,” I said.

    New Bern, NC

    New Bern, NC

    New Bern is a quiet town on the coast of North Carolina. Located in Craven County, New Bern is the second oldest town in North Carolina. It is a town rich in American history, a site of Civil War battle, and the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. New Bern’s downtown is bustling with restaurants and entertainment, and the town’s southern reaches are home to the quieter Croatan National Forest. With historic homes, beautiful gardens, and quaint shops, New Bern provides the ideal setting for The Notebook, which takes us back in time to a quiet and romantic period in the city’s history, as well as The WeddingA Bend in the Road and Safe Haven.

    Anyway, what she had me do was put on my tuxedo again. She slipped into her wedding dress, grabbed those two flowers (she’d brought them to the hotel), a piece of wedding cake, and a video that my brother-in-law had shot the day before, and we brought a little wedding up to the grandparents.

    They had no idea we’d be coming and were excited to see us. My grandfather-in-law slipped into his jacket and put on the boutonniere and we took photographs with them; we went inside and watched the video as we ate a slice of cake, and it was then they told us the story of how they met and fell in love, parts of which eventually made their way into The Notebook.

    But though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other. The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her. I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after sixty years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after twelve hours. What a wonderful gift they’d given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever.

    The Notebook - audio excerpt

    The Feature Film

    200406-the-notebook
    • Director: Nick Cassavetes
    • Screenplay: Jeremy Leven
    • Cast: Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Ryan Gosling
    • Run Time: 123 minutes
    Noah and Allie in Boat
    Allie in boat
    Allie and Noah
    In Ocean

    The Notebook Official Trailer

    About The Film

    As teenagers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) begin a whirlwind courtship that soon blossoms into tender intimacy. The young couple is quickly separated by Allie's upper-class parents who insist that Noah isn't right for her. Several years pass and, when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to choose between her soulmate and class order. This beautiful tale has a particularly special meaning to an older gentleman (James Garner) who regularly reads the timeless love story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands).

    Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking and will capture you with its sweeping and emotional force.

    Book FAQs

    • What is the inspiration for this book? Is it based to any extent on your own experiences or the experiences of those you know?

      The Notebook was originally inspired by the story of my wife’s grandparents. They had a rare and beautiful relationship, one that withstood the test of time and circumstance. When I first met them, they had been married over sixty years, and I remember marveling at how much they still seemed to care for each other. The Notebook attempts to portray such a love. That said, The Notebook is a novel, not a memoir. Many changes were made regarding their story, in order to make the novel more universal, while staying committed to my original intent.

    • How do you account for the success of the novel? What do you think its overriding appeal is?

      It’s never easy to pinpoint the reasons for a book’s success. In the case of The Notebook, I think the most obvious reason is that the story touched people in a deeply personal way. It seems that nearly everyone I spoke with about the novel knew a “Noah and Allie” in their own life. As people made this connection, the book became a so-called word-of-mouth success, with those who enjoyed it recommending it to others. In the end, any book that sells well needs to have this sort of support from readers. On a more practical level, the novel’s short length was appealing to many people. Nowadays, we all seem to have less time to read and The Notebook probably owes much of its success to the fact that people could finish it in one or two sittings. I think that readers also appreciate that the novel didn’t include foul language and its love scene was tasteful and mild compared to what’s found in many other novels. These factors made people feel comfortable about recommending it to others. Finally, I can’t ignore the fact that the publisher did an outstanding job with the novel. It was well promoted, it had a beautiful cover, and it was enthusiastically supported by the sales representatives. In addition, I was sent on a fifty+ city tour (unusually large, by the way) and that also helped to get the word out.

    • The book details the lives of very old, as well as very young, people. How did someone as young as you when you wrote the book acquire the insight to write about the experience of being old in such a moving way?

      That’s what writers strive to do. Though I can’t describe the process of writing and how I do it (I don’t really understand where my ideas come from), I do keep a few general rules in mind, no matter what type of character I’m writing. First, I tend to assume that most people—male or female, young or old—have largely the same types of thoughts. However, the difference lies in their perspectives. So I try to put myself in their shoes and see the world the way they do. Then, I read constantly and see how other authors have written from varying perspectives and I try to figure out whether they accomplished what they set out to do or if they failed. Either way, I ask myself, “Why?” Finally, I work hard at it—I edit constantly until it “feels right” to me. Only then am I satisfied.

    • Letter writing plays such a big part in The Notebook. Is there something about letter writing that intrigues you?

      The epistolary form has been around for centuries, of course. I’m neither the first nor finest to use it. But letters are a wonderful vehicle for emotions, if used effectively and sparingly. In the case of a novel written in third person, for instance, a letter might allow the reader deeper insight into a character’s feelings or thoughts, since a letter is written in first person. Also, I’m fond of letter writing myself. Call it old-fashioned, but that’s how my wife and I fell in love. We lived a thousand miles apart in the early stages of our relationship, and I used to write her every day. She’s often told me that it was the most romantic thing that had ever been done for her.

    • The Notebook is an intensely romantic book—a novel about the everlasting power of “true love.” Do you believe that this kind of love exists in real life?

      Yes, absolutely. True love exists and there’s evidence of it every day. I think people’s perceptions about romantic love, however, are similar to people’s perceptions about schools for children. It seems that most people feel that the school their child goes to is wonderful, but elsewhere, schools are terrible. But if most people feel that way, then it becomes a logical impossibility. Same thing with romantic love. Many people perceive it in their own lives, but doubt if other people do. And those who don’t have it hope that someday, they will. I think The Notebook tapped into that feeling.

    • The Notebook takes place in a small southern town. Why did you choose that setting rather than, say, a big city like New York?

      I live in a small southern town, and life there is different than in a big city. For example, a friend of mine got hurt recently. Instead of bringing him to the hospital or an urgent care clinic, I took him to the doctor’s house. The doctor took care of him, drove to the office to pick up a temporary cast, returned, and then bandaged him up. No charge, by the way. Small towns feed a nostalgia that people have for the way things used to be—simpler, less rushed, more community oriented, things like that.

    • How has the success of The Notebook affected your life? Do you find your family lifestyle has changed much? Or your values?

      The success has been wonderful. It’s enabled me to concentrate on writing full-time, but more than that, it’s allowed me to spend more time with my family. We’ve benefited financially, of course, and it would be dishonest for me to pretend otherwise. But other than that, our lifestyle is largely unchanged. I go to Tae Kwon Do with my kids, we go to church every Sunday, we’re in a “Supper Club” with the same people we’ve known for years, my wife volunteers at the school like every other mom, and we still eat Kraft macaroni and cheese. Nor have our values changed. We worry about the same things all parents do, and we’re doing our best to raise kind and confident children. Our relationship with each other, with our children, with our community, and with God, will always be the most important things in our lives.

    • What was it like going on your author tour and meeting and hearing from so many people whose lives were affected by your book?

      That was a great experience. Writing is communication; hearing from readers about their impressions of what you’ve written is the other half of a conversation that you’ve begun. It’s one of the aspects I most enjoy about being an author.

    • How much of The Notebook was true?

      Parts were true; parts were made-up to benefit the story. I’ve never broken it down specifically, for the simple reason that I don’t think it’s necessary or important. It is, after all, a novel, not a memoir.

    • Will there be a sequel?

      Perhaps. I’m toying with the idea (and keep in mind that The Wedding is a follow-up to The Notebook).

    • At the end of The Notebook has Noah passed away, is he dreaming, or is the ending literal?

      Noah was not dreaming. The ending is what it is.

    • Will there be a teaching series?

      An educational edition was published under the Novel Learning SeriesTM banner. More information can be found out by visiting the Novel Learning Series section of this site.