Today is Valentine’s Day – a day of celebration for couples, and a day of anger, wistfulness, or in some cases, even disgust for many singles. In India, however, Valentine’s Day is looked down upon as a tradition that looks to bring down Indian culture. With moral policing unfairly taking higher precedence in this one-sided war against love, there is a growing need for more open-mindedness and lesser high-handed treatment of free will. [Wow, that rhymed!]
But I digress.
Erich Segal’s Love Story was not originally a book. It was a screenplay that Segal had written and Paramount Pictures produced. Segal, on the insistence of the production house, adapted the screenplay into a novel. The book was released on Valentine’s Day, 1970 and the movie version released in December of the same year. This is one of the rare occasions where the book is written before the screenplay, though not rare that the book comes out before the movie.
I decided to start reading Erich Segal’s Love Story to come up with a review for Valentine’s Day. The start saw me reading the book amidst the chaos of a wedding that I was attending. What an appropriate place, eh? Wrong. For such a simple, unassuming, lovely title, a happy event is one place where you do not want to read this book. Yes, there is humor. Yes, there are witticisms that will make you laugh. But it is also a ginormous punch to the gut as well as to your tear ducts.
Harvard jock (in his own words) Oliver Barrett IV is heir to his father, Oliver Barrett III’s HUGE business empire. He, however resents it because he believes his father merely shows affection to boost his ego and public image.
Jennifer Cavilleri (Jenny or Jen) is a Radcliffe College student studying music is the quick-witted and sharp-tongued daughter of a baker. She, as opposed to Oliver, is very close to her father and loves him to death. [Forgive the usage of this phrase in this context.]
Love Story is how these two meet, how they fall in love, and how their life takes the twists and turns that eventually lead to the gut-punches and the opening of the tear ducts.
To be honest, I had fair warning of what to expect from it. When I said I was taking this book to a wedding, a few people advised me against it. And then there were people who told me to keep a lot of tissues in handy if I took it anyway. Though, I didn’t need the tissues (I’m not sure why), the end left me hollow. It was as if Segal had conspired to kill my insides. The only question in my mind and on my trembling lips at the end of the book was: “Why?”
Love Story is easy to read. Only about 200 pages long with widely-spaced font, it took me less than 2 hours to read it from end to end. So when the essence is captured in a short span and is left lingering in your mind, I wondered how it could have escalated so soon. It’s so unfair. So, so unfair. I didn’t need this in the middle of all the wedding drama. 😦
But it is also the opposite. I needed to read this book because there are a lot of little subtle life lessons in those pages. Yes, there are one or two sayings that seem absolutely ridiculous. But you can pass them and move on to the more important lessons in a trice. You won’t know them at once, but when you do, oh my! I got angry at Jenny more than was appropriate and sympathized with Oliver. But I also understood in hindsight what exactly she was getting at. Now I know better than to even think that she might not understand.
In the end, I’m glad I picked it up. The very memory of the story makes me laugh and makes me cry. And now that I have read Love Story, I know why many people advised me to stock up on tissues when I started!
If you’re a lover of romance, Love Story is a must-read. Even if you are not, I’d suggest you read it. Who knows, you might just fall for the simplicity that this story exudes!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Picture Courtesy: Hachette India.
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