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INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK “LOVE STORY”
TITLE: Love Story
AUTHOR: Erich Segal
TYPE OF BOOK: A classical, tragic love story
ORIGINAL PUBLISHED: in 1970
PUBLISHED BY: Harper and Row, New York and Hodder and Stoughton, London
PUBLISHED IN HOLLAND: in 1986
PUBLISHED BY: Walva-Boek, Apeldoorn
POPULARITY
Over 21 million copies have been sold in 33 languages and it became one of the biggest best sellers of the 1970s. Also because it was made into a very successful film starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal.
SETTING


The story takes place in the 1960s in America. Oliver studies at Harvard and Jenny at Radcliffe, which are both part of Harvard University in Cambridge, a town near Boston, Massachussettes. Later on, when they married they moved to New York City.
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
The story is written in chronological order and has no flashbacks. The story tells about Ollie’s and Jenny’s life together, which lasts about three to five years. It starts at the beginning, when they meet and ends when they are separated because Jenny dies.
POINT OF VIEW
The story is written in the I-form and in this case Oliver is the I-person. You ‘see’ things happening through Oliver’s eyes and all his thoughts are written down.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erich Segal is an American professor of Greek and Latin literature and used to be a marathon runner. He acted in movies and was a television commentator for the Olympic Games. Besides Love Story he has written amongst others, Fairy Tale, Yellow Submarine and

Oliver’s Story. This last one is a sequel to Love Story, but was far less successful.
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
Oliver Barrett IV, also called Ollie is a law student at Harvard University and is a good ice-
hockey player. He has very rich parents who have lots of influence at Harvard. Mainly because they’re well-known and of course because of their large amount of money. All the ‘Barrett generations’ went to Harvard.
Jennifer Cavilleri, also called Jenny is a music student at Radcliffe University and is from
Italian descent. She lived with her Italian father Phil, because her mother died in a car accident when Jenny was young.
Oliver Barrett III, also called sonovabitch and Old Stoneyface by Oliver because he says that
his father is wearing a mask of absolute stone. He has achieved lots of athletic credentials and had rowed single sculls at the Olympic Games in 1928.
Alison Forbes Barrett, also called Tipsy, is Oliver’s mother.
Phil Cavilleri is Jenny’s father and is a baker. He’s a kind of man who cares very much about his
daughter and is very careful with here, because she is his only daughter and she has gone through a difficult time when here mother died.
Ray Stratton is Olivers roommate and friend.
A TYPICAL WAY OF WRITING
The language used is sort of a of students’ language, which means that there’s a typical way of speaking. Some profanity is used and they are arguing often. Segal also used some ‘popular’ words like: - wouldja (would you)
- gonna (going to)
- how’d (how did)
- yer (you are)
There are also some words which are repeated every time. They are spoken by all the characters and are used throughout the whole book.
These are the most repeated words: - and so forth
- goddamn
- christ’s sake
What I’ve also noticed are the conversations between Oliver and Jenny. It looks like if they’re arguing with each other almost all the time , which isn’t true. In almost all their conversations they use the word ‘goddamn’ and they are yelling a lot. They’re both also very honest to each other which also leads to a typical way of talking. But often these ways of communication have different meanings, even if it doesn’t look like it that way.
Two examples of dialogues between Oliver and Jenny when they’ve just met.
‘You look stupid and rich, ’she said. ‘Jenny!’
‘You’re wrong, ’I protested. ‘I’m actually like instinctively, I kissed her lightly on the forehead.
smart and poor’. ‘Did I say you could?’ she said.
‘Oh, no, I’m smart and poor.’ ‘What?’
‘What the hell makes you so smart?’ I asked. ‘Did I say you could kiss me?’
‘I wouldn’t go for coffee with you, ’she ‘Sorry, I was carried away.’
answered. ‘I wasn’t.’
‘Listen – I wouldn’t ask you’. I kissed her again, but not on the forehead and not lightly.
‘That,’ she replied, ‘is what makes you so It lasted a long nice time.
stupid’. ‘I don’t like it, ‘she said.’
‘What.’
‘The fact that I like it.’
THE PLOT OF THE STORY
Jenny and Ollie meet, fall in love and get married, despite how their parents feel about it. They don’t have much money, but they do have a happy life together until a terrible thing happens. Jenny is told to be mortally ill and so the young lovers are separated when Jenny dies.
A SUMMARY OF “LOVE STORY”
Oliver wants to borrow a book at Radcliffe library when he meets Jenny. She works there and helps him to find the book. Later they have coffee together and then Oliver invites her to come to an ice-hockey game, he is playing. After the game Jenny is waiting for him and when Oliver sees her he kisses her. Later on the telephone Olivers says that he’s in love with her, but Jenny doesn’t reply.
For another ice-hockey match, Oliver’s father has driven a long way to see Oliver playing. After the match they have dinner together, but as always Oliver found it difficult to communicate with his father. His father wants him to go to law school or to join the Peace Corps, which is a programme in which young people spend two years working in developing countries. Oliver has to think about it and after he leaves the restaurant, he goes to see Jenny. She is on the telephone with someone called Phil and says that she loves him. Oliver thinks that she is cheating on him, but later Phil turns out to be her father. Oliver finds it difficult to understand how close they are, because his relationship with his father is very different.
One afternoon Oliver and Jenny make love and later, when Jenny tells him that she got a chance to study music in Paris, Oliver asks her to stay and to marry him.
Jenny says yes to him, so at one Sunday they go to see Oliver’s parents to tell them the news. Jenny is very impressed with their big house and about the athletic career of Mr. Barrett. The conversations are stiff and they all feel uncomfortable.
On the way home Jenny says that she thinks that Oliver not only loves her because of who she is, but also because of her descent. And she says honestly that she also loves Oliver because of his name and title. Oliver says that this statement is true and doesn’t mind that she also loves him only for his name.
When Oliver and his father have lunch together, Mr Barrett tells Oliver that he is sure that Oliver also wants to marry Jennifer to rebel against the family traditions. This is only because Jenny is a poor girl. He says that if Oliver marries her before he finishes law school, he doesn’t want to support him financially anymore.
Oliver is afraid that his appointment with Jenny’s father wouldn’t be a success either, because he is now a poor man too, but it was the other way around. Her father is very kind and even asks Oliver to call him Phil.
A few days after they’ve received there B.A. degree they get married, despite Mr. Barrett’s wish.
The first three years of their marriage they have a little bit of money and they even work at their honeymoon. Back home, Jenny starts to teach music and Oliver is studying for his law degree.
When they receive an invitation for Mr. Barrett’s sixtieth birthday Oliver doesn’t want to go and visits him. Jenny calls Mr. Barrett to tell him and before she hangs up she tells him that Olivers loves him very much. Oliver is so mad about it and in all his anger he tells Jennifer to leave. At the same moment that Jenny had disappeared he feels so stupid and goes to look for her. When he returns home after a few hours he sees Jenny sitting on the steps leading to their front door. When he wants to apologise, Jenny says: ‘Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.’ And with those words everything is forgotten.
Once Ollie and Jennifer have decided to have a child together they make love several times, but it doesn’t work out. They go to a doctor to see what is wrong and Jenny turns out to be infertile. But there is more. The reason for Jenny’s infertility is bad, very bad. Jenny has leukaemia, which means that she is mortally ill. She will die soon..
Ollie and Jenny spend much time together and Oliver takes some time off.
One evening, when Jenny is playing piano, she suddenly stops and asked Oliver to bring her to the hospital. Oliver asks the doctors to give her a private room and to give the very best care. Money isn’t important, he says. But it wasn’t true. He hasn’t enough money, so he goes to his father and asks him to borrow him five thousand dollars for a very good reason. Oliver doesn’t tell him the reason, but his father gives him the money.
Now Oliver has to tell Phil that Jenny is in the hospital. Phil takes the news good and calmly closes his door and goes to live with Oliver in their apartment. From now on their days excisted of visiting hours and doing nothing.
When they ae in the hospital again, Jenny asks Oliver to do her a favor and to hold her very tight. Oliver did so and just after she thanks him, she dies in his arms.
After Ollie has told Phil he wants to be alone for some time, to breathe some air, he walks downstairs. Besides the woman at the reception he is all alone, when he sudden hears his name calling. It's his father. When Mr. Barrett had found out of Jennifer’s illness, he jumped into his car and came to the hospital. He says that he wanted to help, but Oliver tells him that Jennifer had already died. Mr. Barrett says he is sorry, but Oliver repeats the words he had long ago learned from Jenny. ‘Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.’ And then he did what he had never done before in his fathers presence, much less in his arms. He cried.
MY OPINION ABOUT THE BOOK
Once I’ve started I couldn’t stop reading. It’s a beautiful book, which is very well written. The dialogues are very good and very realistic. Some dialogues or just some specific sentences made such an impression that they will stay in your mind forever. Especially the sentence , ‘Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry’. I keep thinking about it.
The story is written in such a way that you’re totally taken by the book. I feel sorry for Oliver that the girl he loved so very much must die. Now you can think how it’s possible to think that way, because it’s just a character but it’s just happening to you because the book is so realistic.
The fact that the story does not have a happy ending is sad, but that’s what makes it so good, because you can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve read the end again and again, because it’s so sad but so beautiful. I’ll surely recommend the book and I'm going to watch the film as well.
EDITORIAL REVIEWS
FROM THE PUBLISHER
“This is a wonderful, tumultuous, heartfelt story, which will grab you, hold you and stay with you forever. It’s not just a story- Love Story is an experience.”
SNELSON226 FROM WASHINGTON D.C. – DECEMBER 10, 1997
“It’s a classic piece of American kitsch, In it’s timeless camp quality, it appeals to readers of all ages and backgrounds.”
ELYSIUM FROM KARACHI, PAKISTAN – AUGUST 9, 1999
“Love Story is the only book that I’ve read in one go and have been reading again and again. Oliver’s thoughts, his conversations with Jenny and the other characters are presented in an almost unassuming style which makes them all very realistic. I feel the author masterfully attaches the magic to an ordinary relationship that makes it extraordinary. It’s short and sweet and will stay in your hart forever! I’m OBSESSED with the book.”
CRISPYO2GRL FROM OCONOMOWOC, WISCONSIN USA – OCTOBR 22, 2000
“Love Story is a phenomenal experience. The reader becomes so involved in the conflicts between family, friends, and the couple that every incident becomes personal and is taken to heart. Love Story is a tale which professes that love teaches the many lessons that professors cannot. Once a person has read this novel, he will never be able to forget how strong the grip of love has on his heart or how tragedy can lead to forgiveness.”
KAHOONA FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 12, 2000
“This was a wonderfully written book, which is beautiful and so sad. I read it during lunch break at work and my boss caught my crying at my desk.”

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