Title: Love Story
Author: Erich Segal
Pub Date: 1970
Author: Erich Segal
Pub Date: 1970
Love Story is not an adored novella because of its originality. Oliver the nth is a preppie Harvard athlete with daddy issues up the arse. I mean, how can Ollie compete with Daddy Does It All Perfectly - or as he refers to him, sonavabitch or Stony Face. Jennifer is the witty working class artiste who is studying music at Radcliffe. They meet, they fall in love, they marry, and Jenny dies of a rare form of leukemia. Don't scream, don't scream! I didn't give anything away because (a) you're not going to read this story because of the plot and (b) Ollie opens his story revealing Jennifer's death.
So why read this if not for plot? Oh my gods, the writing, of course! Segal writes both simply and eloquently; humorously and sentimentally; nerdy and literary. You gets me?
My emotional reactions (SPOILERS - DO NOT PASS GO!)
I didn't know what to think when I first opened this book. I had not heard a gosh darn thing about it until one day whilst reading Bookmarks they mentioned it as an all-time must read in the literary romance category. Romance normally doesn't pull at my strings. But I decided to take the risk. I found it on Bookmooch and Bam.
When I opened it and found out in the first page Jennifer was going to die, I thought: Oh well, okay. Now I know, I won't tear up. I'll be emotionally detached because I can prepare myself. Boo on the author for doing that!
And then I met Jennifer - Jenny - Jen through the eyes of Ollie and man alive did she kick butt. I was giggling and nodding my head at her shaming "Preppie" in this teasing-but for real sorta way. She was totally someone I would hang with.
Ollie's relationship with his dad was also interesting. In every scene he dogged daddy viciously. "Yes sir", "no sir", while never giving the man an opportunity to talk. Now, I realize that we walked into this relationship while Ollie was twenty and I am sure that there were tons of built up frustrations that the poor young Ollie went through to turn him into this bratty and disrespecting young man - but *still* I had to agree with Jenny when she kept on reminding Oliver that his dad loved him. But you know what was great? I mean, why this was so important to my love for this book? Even though Segal didn't go into detail about Ollie's life growing up in the shadow of his dad, you got it. I mean really got it. This book is a small book. A quick read. But the characters SPRUNG alive. I have read books that push 400 pages and I still don't feel a thing for the people involved.
Which leads me to the ending. I knew Jenny was gonna die. Didn't I tell you, it opened that way? But when I realized I had only twenty or so pages left and knew the inevitable was coming I wanted to slow down my reading. I grew angry. Was I really going through my own process of dying? Mental check - yup, I denied that the author would end on that note, I bargained with myself...maybe I could stop reading and pretend that all ended well...anger - yup that was easy (don't kill off Jenny!!). Finally I just accepted the fact that I had to keep reading. And then, most surprisingly - grief. I teared up. I teared up having known that it was not going to end well to begin with. I teared up after spending only 130 pages with these people (and the font size was not ultra small, people).
Meet Jennifer and Oliver.
I waved the envelope at hear. She immediately recognized the letterhead.
"Hey - Harvard Law school! Have you been kicked out?"
"Guess again, you optimistic bitch," I yelled.
"You were first in the class!" she guessed.
I was now almost ashamed to tell her.
"Not quite. Third."
"Oh," she said. "Only third?"
"Listen - that still means I make the goddamn Law Review," I shouted.
She just sat there with an absolute no-expression expression.
"Christ, Jenny," I kind of whined, "say something!"
"Not until I meet numbers one and two," she said.