About the Book

Book Protagonist: Noah Calhoun
Publication Date: 1996
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance


The Notebook

By Nicholas Sparks

An analysis of the reasons why 'The Notebook' by Nicholas Sparks has received both praise and criticism from readers and critics.

The Notebook‘ by Nicholas Sparks was one of the most loved romance novels in the United States in the late 1990s. However, the novel had praise-singing readers and critics as much as it had readers who were not so enthusiastic in their reviews. And each side of the divide had its reasons for its opinions.


In ‘The Notebook‘ by Nicholas Sparks, Noah and Allie are the two characters at the centre of the narrative. The narrative is so exhaustively theirs that the other characters appear to function as only catalysts to the plot. When the story begins, it is an octogenarian Noah that we see readying to go ‘read the notebook aloud’ to his ailing wife, who has been afflicted by a sort of senile dementia, in the hope that ‘the miracle that has come to dominate [his] life will once again prevail.’ It is not until the story draws to an end that one gets a glimpse into what this miracle was supposed to be.

One point that detracts from the characterization of ‘The Notebook’ is the absence of flaws in the lead character, Noah. Noah has no flaws and possesses superhuman qualities that make him an unrealistic character. This perfection in some of the characters makes it difficult for a reader to find them relatable.


The Notebook‘ is a hundred pages long with just eight chapters. This makes it a novel that can be finished by an average reader in a couple of hours. This brevity of volume is always an encouragement to read a novel, and ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks scores full points in this regard, just like Ayn Rand‘s ‘Anthem‘.

The first chapter of the novel introduces a character on a mission to read to someone from a notebook. Then, the bulk of the story covering from chapter two to chapter seven is the main character’s reading of the story of their life together to his wife. So the reader just happens to be some sort of eavesdropper merely overhearing the reading as the narrator proceeds with it.

The use of a narrative frame within the story adds layers of brightness to what might have been a gloomy novel about troubled people living in a nursing home. The narrative frame also adds variety to the setting and the timelines in the novel.

Philosophical Themes

The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks is a short read but is craftily laced with themes that have philosophical depths. The themes explore the nexus between memories and emotions. It begs the question of how much humans are capable of feeling in the absence of memory and evokes deep thoughts on the subject of love and endurance.

The novel also explores the theme of aging and mortality in humans and gives musings on the changes in perspective on life and priorities as people grow old and become physically frail.

A Sentimental Story

The story of Noah and Allie in ‘The Notebook’ is a sentimental one. It begins with an old man who rues about the loss of the physical prowess of his youth as he goes to read a story to his wife. The lead character Noah flashes back to the past, where we understand his background and motivations a little more. However, his musings are exaggeratedly sentimental and sometimes border on self-pity.

The characters are overly emotional about mundane things, and this makes many parts of the novel boring to read. While the overall idea of the story is a heart-warming love story, the delivery makes it mawkishly amorous.


Is ‘The Notebook‘ a good read?

The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks is a good read for lovers of romance novels and love stories. It is also a good read for readers who are skeptical about reading large volumes that consume a lot of reading time.

Why is ‘The Notebook‘ considered a classic?

The Notebook‘ is considered a classic because it is one of the most memorable modern romance novels in the United States and also because of its popular movie adaptation that made a cultural impact on modern romance stories.

Why is ‘The Notebook‘ unrealistic?

The Notebook‘ is considered unrealistic because of its flawless characters and because of its plot, which suggests that emotions are more powerful than the laws of science.

The Notebook Review
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Themes
  • Lasting Impact on a Reader

The Notebook Review

The Notebook’ is a classic romantic tale that captures existential themes as it tells a love story between a poor small-town boy and a rich socialite girl. Nicholas Sparks puts a noble and loving soul in the lead character Noah. And Noah’s musings are touching thoughts that are both heartwarming and inspirational.

However, the novel would have been a better read with a little less exaggeration of sentimentality. But overall, the novel is an enjoyable read.


  • Good narrative technique
  • Brevity
  • Rich themes
  • Great plot


  • Unrealistic characters
  • Overly sentimental
Israel Njoku
About Israel Njoku
Israel has a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. He loves entertainment, pop-culture and the arts and tries to extract themes with wider reaching implications from them through rigorous analysis.
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