Love Story

What can you say about a 131 page long book published on the valentine’s day of 1970? That it is present on all bookshelves of Hindi movies that are love stories. That it has one of the most famous lines of all, and I will get to it. That it reached a cult status in the hallows of love stories.

Erich Segal’s book is a simple read. Quick paced straightforward story telling. I think what appeals to the reader is that fact that it could have been your story or mine. Hopefully not, but there is nothing stopping it from being a story of a person we might chance upon.

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And me?”

The quote is not a spoiler. It is the first line of the novel. The very first line that tells you what is to come. Sad endings always seem to make tragic legends which is why this book isn’t one of my absolute favourites, but I still thought it would be fun to write about. And because of the cliche of an unhappy ending, plus the need for tissues, this book will be getting a slightly low rating from me.

Oliver Barrett, with his troubled relationship with his father, is a Howard law school student. Popular, rich and sophisticated. He meets Jenny Cavalleri, a music major, from Radcliffe. Jenny is smart, sassy and direct. She hails from a life far removed from his, but that hardly matters as she literally takes his breath away.

“What the hell makes you smart?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t go for coffee with you.”
“Listen – I wouldn’t ask you.”
“That,” she replied, “is what makes you stupid.”

I have it on good authority that the book manages to capture the way of life of that time quite perfectly. The romance is fresh and fun. The setting young. They fall in love. The class difference worries their parents, but the young lovers throw wind to the caution. We follow them as they work hard to make ends meet. Follow their ambitions while following their hearts. Their life together will be short, but remains sweet.

An added depth to story comes from the clash between the hero and his father. He is estranged from his family, refusing to let traditions and status burden him down. In Jenny he finds a reason and motivation to break those shackles of hailing from illustrious ancestors. In our hearts however, we always care for love from our parents and their acceptance; Oliver is no different. Life gets tricky at times and this books explores a lot of it.

When Jenny goes against Oliver’s wishes the young couple have a bad fight. Do you remember how it felt to fight for the very first time with your sweetheart? How heavy grew your heart? How lonely and silent the world turned? It is in one such moment that the famous lines were spoken. Not by a brilliant philosopher, not by someone old and wise, not by Salman Khan. A young girl in love imparts the truest of wisdom.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

It’s not really about never uttering the word. It is a fact that when you love there will be times you will get hurt. And love gives the strength needed to forgive and forget.


Starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal the movie based on this novel has quite a cult following of it’s own. You must surely have heard the Oscar winning theme song by Francis Lai. It was to be a instrumental piece on the piano, but timeless words were later added on Where do I begin
To tell the story of how great a love can be?

And if the end makes you weep, Erich Segal wrote a sequel to this tale, Oliver’s Story. Not as popular, but perhaps a sequel will bring closure if you are unhappy with the end. If not, then a number of Erich Segal’s other books are great reads too. Thicker in size, novels like The Class and Doctors track the journey of their protagnonists across  the years of their complicated lives. Get ready to get swept into the world of Cambridge, Oxford and other colleges during the mid 1900’s.

Maybe, you would still like to give Love Story a read or a re-read, to find out what the fuss is all about? Or perhaps you can carry the book with you, to catch the eye of that handsome stranger, and find your own love story?

Picture credit Google.



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  • Reply
    Ladki Kijhy
    April 26, 2015 at 2:29 am

    My first year in college, 11th standard actually, it was pre-degree then and we went to college for that, a women’s college it was for me. My first introduction to a proper library and the card catalog! This was the book to read for all of us. One would put it first on every request for books, but would never get it, cause it was always out. A batch mate, one of those studious kinds, who was also a fantastic keyboard player, would play the theme from love story. I remember asking her to play it for me quite a few times, one of those things that would tug your heart strings. Looking back now, don’t know what the fuss was all about. But when we’re young and in love with love, love story was the book to read. Another book of his was made into the movie Masoom. I remember shedding copious tears on reading it!

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      April 26, 2015 at 2:52 am

      You are already here? part of my love story you have become lady kizh.. haha really? I can imagine the girls going crazy about the book. My mother swore by it too. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but never felt the urge to go crazy over it.
      I too like other novel’s by this author more. I never knew Masoom is based on his story? Which of his books is that? Will definitely read.
      I came back to edit my comment. I am learning to play the piano. Now tempted to try out this tune. thank you..

      • Reply
        Ladki Kijhy
        April 26, 2015 at 8:01 am

        Even I enjoyed his other books more. The book on which masoom is based is man, woman and child. You’re learning the piano? I had nursed an idea of trying it, don’t know if I’ll ever get round to it!

        • Reply
          rhea sinha
          April 26, 2015 at 9:18 am

          thanks for the name kizh. I’ll check it out. I should have said ‘trying’ to learn piano. i like it.. calms me.. but I feel once you are grown up learning an instrument gets a way harder. Do give it a try.. then I will have someone to keep me company.

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    April 26, 2015 at 8:25 am

    where do i begin… where do i start… the boy i had a crush on in grade 8…9…10…11 ha ha sang that song beautifully. and no one’s sung it more romantically than andy w, my mother was a fan too. took me forever to understand the words in those days before internet. i was not allowed to see the film at 13 because there were scenes too “adult” apparently, like his hand riding up her leg below the skirt… oh rhea, you bring back memories. love story was a beautiful read and at 14 or whatever the tragedy majorly appealed. but what stayed fresh and meaningful always was the crisp sexy meeting of jenny and oliver… the repartee, the sudden turning of light happy love into love that asks much more of you, even more than bridging class divide and other such stuff. my daughter loves fault in our stars, i shudder, then tell her the whole idea is lifted and my sad love story is better than yours. have to say, more than the book i loved the movie. ali mcgraw was something else and ryan o’neill very cute. and that last line or was it first of oliver’s story… that says, if jenny had lived he’d be alive too… i get that. thanks for this review and i see lady k is already here.

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      April 26, 2015 at 9:33 am

      happy to be at your service Indi di. And really what the post is about doesn’t matter as long as they manage to take you to those familiar or far off places in your head. this boy sounds nice.. singing to you for four years? I had a feeling you would like the movie. Was just telling kizh my mother loves it too. The banter specially when they meet gave me such a rush. And so many things are all based off this story aren’t they?
      That line you quote.. lovely.. you know with death love stories tend to always leave a deep impact, but to have something full of life touch one right inside, is brilliant. IPK is one of that.. I’ll have to think of others. btw who is your favourite pair of all times?

      • Reply
        indrani robbins
        April 26, 2015 at 11:30 am

        alas, he never sang to me. he was one of my wonderful unrequited utter schoolgirl crushes. a lovely memory. your mother, me… same time, same place, same lack of all over media… a certain innocence those days. and a willingness to believe, i guess. ipk touches me as you well know teehee… and i love the fact that here everyone lived. it takes courage to live. and love. and stay believing. i wrote without you to see if he could be killed off… thankfully, no. he lives. and in that is a triumph that thrills. many love stories touch me… and make me pause and mull and act dotty. but nothing comes close to ipk. look at my state, nandkissore.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Rhea, I never had any idea about this book or the movie based on it. But as I started to read, I thought that it was not possible that such a popular story wasn’t made into a movie in Hindi, And as soon as I read what you wrote about the storyline and its tragic end, only one movie came to mind. I immediately went to wiki to check and realised I wasn’t wrong.

    Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se is a 1978 Hindi Romantic film, starring Sachin and Ranjeeta. It was based on the best-selling novel Love Story by Erich Segal.

    The above lines are from wiki. I did love this movie in spite of its tragic ending. What a wonder, even if the original work is unknown, the story does reach people in one form or the other.

    There was a sequel to this movie too which was made years later. But I understand that the sequel story is different from that of Oliver’s story.

    Thanks for this review Rhea. Lot of discoveries for me there. 🙂

    p.s. As I search further, I realise it was also made in Malayalam titled Madanolsavam (1978) and in Bengali titled Love (2008)

    • Reply
      Ladki Kijhy
      April 28, 2015 at 12:07 am

      Madanolsavam was very popular I think when I came out. Kamal Hasan and Zareena Wahab in the lead roles. The songs are extremely popular, music by Salil Chowdhary. Remember hearing them as a child!

      • Reply
        Ladki Kijhy
        April 28, 2015 at 2:34 am

        Oops typo! I meant when it came out. One has to be careful saying things these days 🙂

        • Reply
          April 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm

          Ha ha, true true. That reminds me Zarina Wahab was a regular in Malayalam movies, isn’t it? I think I remember her wearing the mundu. But didn’t know she paired up with Kamal Hassan too.

          • rhea sinha
            April 30, 2015 at 8:20 am

            Happy to see you both are here chatting away on love story.

            Durga di I have heard of the Sachin movie but not seen it and didn’t know it is based on this book. glad you found the post interesting. there is always something familiar in most love stories, and still their own special thing as well, or so I feel.

            Kizh.. no correction needed in love.. we understand the sentiment behind it bitiya..haven’t heard of Madanolsavam, but will take a look. have seen zarina wahab in hindi movies as well.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Nice write-up Rhea. I remember reading this book after watching one of Hritik Roshan’s movie on friendship and love where they keep on talking about this book.. And, it was a disappointment, maybe, coz I had high hopes after watching the movie.. 🙂 .. I liked the other novels of Erich Segal. And, now, not one of the books which I would pick up to read in my leisure time. 🙂 Maybe, we have grown out of that phase of life. But, it still does fancy the teenagers. 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      May 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      mujhse dosti karoge.. hehe.. I remember this book in that movie. Is that the one you are thinking of lovely di? same pinch we were all discussing how we like the other novels more. For me I still think of the books that I read as a teenager. That is why i guess end up writing about them. Recently whatever I read doesn’t remain with me as much as what I read before. Hope to find new books to read and share here.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2015 at 12:54 am

    yes.. that’s the one I was talking about.. forgot the name though.. For me, it’s classic novels which I would pick any day to sit and read again. Books like A tale of two cities, Emma, In search of Lost time, To kill a mocking bird, Wuthering Heights, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and many more.. Keep on writing. It’s great to see you being creative in your leisure time.. 🙂

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