Authors: Nicholas Sparks
Tags: #FIC000000, #Fiction, #General
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1996 by Nicholas Sparks
Reading Group Guide copyright © 1999 by Nicholas Sparks and Warner Books, Inc. Excerpt from
© copyright 2003 by Nicholas Sparks
All rights reserved.
Cover art copyright 2004 by New Line Cinema
Book design by L & G McRee
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First eBook Edition: December 1999
THE WORDS OF LOVE…
“I am nothing special; of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”
And so begins one of the most poignant and compelling love stories you will ever read…
ALL AMERICA LOVES
“A classic story of love found, lost, and regained.…Sparks has a winning combination of style and story.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Remarkable and memorable…beautiful.”
—Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate
“A highly romantic story.”
“Focuses on a man, a woman, and the transforming power of love.…THE NOTEBOOK is shocking only in its simplicity of form and purity of line.”
—Dallas Morning News
“A touching story.”
—San Antonio Express News
“A one-night read.…Sparks generates authentic emotional power.…If you are in need of a good cry, THE NOTEBOOK is absolutely the right book.”
“A more romantic testament to love’s enduring miracle than Robert James Waller’s
The Bridges of Madison County
“Lovely…delightfully gentle.…The right choice.”
“Short enough to read in an evening, but long enough to tell a story of real love and devotion that spans a couple’s life.”
—Kinston Free Press
“A warm, poignant, touching account of one of nature’s rarest commodities: real love…just enjoy the book.”
“THE NOTEBOOK will tear a hole in your heart.… Anyone who does not sob through the last chapter has a heart of stone.”
“A five-star writer…a story you will cry through and remember for a lifetime.”
—Winter Haven News Chief
“Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore or library to get a copy of this gem…a book for everyone who has ever loved or been loved, or dreamed of loving madly, truly, deeply. After finishing this little treasure, even the most jaded reader will be convinced that everlasting love exists.”
—Mount Airy Gazette
“Handled by Sparks with finesse…irrepressibly romantic.”
“Guaranteed to leave its readers in tears…a romantic tale, simply told, but it is an unforgettable one.”
—Copley News Service
“The tearjerker story of the year.”
—Anderson Independent Mail
“This poignant tale of love lost and found…resonates with an emotional vibrancy that will enchant readers.”
“A powerful read that makes it difficult to put the book down.”
—Newport News Daily Press
“Sparks is a true romantic who knows how to weave a sweetly sentimental story.”
—Warner Robins Daily Sun
“Without question, THE NOTEBOOK establishes Nicholas Sparks as a gifted storyteller.”
“A haunting love story.”
“A wonderful story of love and devotion…beautifully done, but I must warn everyone to have the hankies ready!”
—Under the Covers Book Reviews
“The kind of story that tugs hard on your emotions and makes you cry whether it’s Christmas or July.”
“This novel is full of love and sadness; its pages pass too quickly. You might lend THE NOTEBOOK to family and friends to read but be sure to get it back. You’ll want to read it again.”
—Clark Suburban News
“Pulls at your heartstrings. Be ready,
Bridges of Madison County
fans. Watch out, Robert James Waller.”
Message in a Bottle
A Walk to Remember The Rescue
A Bend in the Road Nights in Rodanthe
Three Weeks with My Brother
This book is dedicated with love to
my wife and my friend.
This story is what it is today because of two special people, and I would like to thank them for everything they’ve done.
To Theresa Park, the agent who plucked me from obscurity. Thank you for your kindness, your patience, and the many hours you have spent working with me. I will be forever grateful for everything you’ve done.
To Jamie Raab, my editor. Thank you for your wisdom, your humor, and your good-hearted nature. You made this a wonderful experience for me, and I’m glad to call you my friend.
ho am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?
The sun has come up and I am sitting by a window that is foggy with the breath of a life gone by. I’m a sight this morning: two shirts, heavy pants, a scarf wrapped twice around my neck and tucked into a thick sweater knitted by my daughter thirty birthdays ago. The thermostat in my room is set as high as it will go, and a smaller space heater sits directly behind me. It clicks and groans and spews hot air like a fairy-tale dragon, and still my body shivers with a cold that will never go away, a cold that has been eighty years in the making. Eighty years, I think sometimes, and despite my own acceptance of my age, it still amazes me that I haven’t been warm since George Bush was president. I wonder if this is how it is for everyone my age.
My life? It isn’t easy to explain. It has not been the rip-roaring spectacular I fancied it would be, but neither have I burrowed around with the gophers. I suppose it has most resembled a blue-chip stock: fairly stable, more ups than downs, and gradually trending upward over time. A good buy, a lucky buy, and I’ve learned that not everyone can say this about his life. But do not be misled. I am nothing special; of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.
The romantics would call this a love story, the cynics would call it a tragedy. In my mind it’s a little bit of both, and no matter how you choose to view it in the end, it does not change the fact that it involves a great deal of my life and the path I’ve chosen to follow. I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I’ve chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Time, unfortunately, doesn’t make it easy to stay on course. The path is straight as ever, but now it is strewn with the rocks and gravel that accumulate over a lifetime. Until three years ago it would have been easy to ignore, but it’s impossible now. There is a sickness rolling through my body; I’m neither strong nor healthy, and my days are spent like an old party balloon: listless, spongy, and growing softer over time.
I cough, and through squinted eyes I check my watch. I realize it is time to go. I stand from my seat by the window and shuffle across the room, stopping at the desk to pick up the notebook I have read a hundred times. I do not glance through it. Instead I slip it beneath my arm and continue on my way to the place I must go.
I walk on tiled floors, white in color and speckled with gray. Like my hair and the hair of most people here, though I’m the only one in the hallway this morning. They are in their rooms, alone except for television, but they, like me, are used to it. A person can get used to anything, if given enough time.
I hear the muffled sounds of crying in the distance and know exactly who is making those sounds. Then the nurses see me and we smile at each other and exchange greetings. They are my friends and we talk often, but I am sure they wonder about me and the things that I go through every day. I listen as they begin to whisper among themselves as I pass. “There he goes again,” I hear, “I hope it turns out well.” But they say nothing directly to me about it. I’m sure they think it would hurt me to talk about it so early in the morning, and knowing myself as I do, I think they’re probably right.
A minute later, I reach the room. The door has been propped open for me, as it usually is. There are two others in the room, and they too smile at me as I enter. “Good morning,” they say with cheery voices, and I take a moment to ask about the kids and the schools and upcoming vacations. We talk above the crying for a minute or so. They do not seem to notice; they have become numb to it, but then again, so have I.
Afterward I sit in the chair that has come to be shaped like me. They are finishing up now; her clothes are on, but still she is crying. It will become quieter after they leave, I know. The excitement of the morning always upsets her, and today is no exception. Finally the shade is opened and the nurses walk out. Both of them touch me and smile as they walk by. I wonder what this means.
I sit for just a second and stare at her, but she doesn’t return the look. I understand, for she doesn’t know who I am. I’m a stranger to her. Then, turning away, I bow my head and pray silently for the strength I know I will need. I have always been a firm believer in God and the power of prayer, though to be honest, my faith has made for a list of questions I definitely want answered after I’m gone.
Ready now. On go the glasses, out of my pocket comes a magnifier. I put it on the table for a moment while I open the notebook. It takes two licks on my gnarled finger to get the well-worn cover open to the first page. Then I put the magnifier in place.
There is always a moment right before I begin to read the story when my mind churns, and I wonder, Will it happen today? I don’t know, for I never know beforehand, and deep down it really doesn’t matter. It’s the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee, a sort of wager on my part. And though you may call me a dreamer or fool or any other thing, I believe that anything is possible.