‘The Notebook’ Book Summary
‘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?
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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.
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.