Review: Love Story by Erich Segal

Love means never having to say you're sorry ... or at least that is the most ridiculous line from an otherwise solidly written short novella that sold a phenomenal number of copies when it was first released in 1970. Based on a screenplay, the book was released at the same time as the film (staring a perfectly cast Ryan O'Neil and Ali McGraw,) and both saw an enormous amount of success thanks to the theme of star crossed lovers who conquer all ... with a heartbreaking twist.

Oliver Barrett IV is a spoiled rich jock and Harvard student who wants for nothing except to be loved by his parents. Into his life comes Jenny, a music student from a neighbouring university who is his opposite in every way ... except for the fact that both are instantly drawn to one another. Against the wishes of Oliver's parents the pair marry, he gets disinherited and she has to give up her music career to support him through university. Then Jenny becomes gravely ill. And that's basically it. The whole thing is short, melodramatic and tells the story of a young couple who repeatedly defy the odds ... until they cannot.

This one is short enough to be read in one sitting and entertaining, provided that the reader is willing to keep an open mind about the era that the novel is set, one where it wasn't unusual for a woman to have to give everything up for her partner when she got married. It also involves the understanding that the real star of the novel is Oliver, while Jenny is more or less regaled to manic pixie dream girl status. Of course, there is the counter argument that Oliver makes a huge sacrifice for his wife, choosing to forgo a vast inheritance and a comfortable life. Ultimately, I found it to be a sweet melodrama about a man who learns a thing or two about unconditional love and heartbreak. 



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