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The Notebook & the Wedding, by Nicholas Sparks; read by Barry Bostwick & Tom Wopat

13 HOURS ON 12 CDs
The Notebook & The Wedding

This audio book consists of two novels. The first tells the love story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson. From opposite ends of the social scale, the teens fall in love and spend a romantic summer together until their romance is sabotaged by Allie's mother. Love triumphs and they find each other after several years, rekindle their love, marry and enjoy more than 40 years of happiness. As an old man, Noah reads Allie a notebook containing the story of their romance, hoping to spark a miraculous response in her after she loses her memory to Alzheimer's. The second book is a follow up to the first. Allie has died, but Noah is still alive and because their romance was legendary, a son-in-law, Wilson, asks Noah for advice when he realizes that his own marriage is in trouble. Wilson explores many aspects of family love as well as romantic love and concludes his quest in a delightful surprise ending.

Both books deal with the ravages of Alzheimer's and the dreadful effect the disease has on loved ones as well as on the actual patient. Rather than depressing, though, both books are uplifting and entertaining. Sparks creates characters who realize that change is inevitable with the passing of time and that it's important to appreciate each day of being together when you love someone. The actors who narrate the stories, Barry Bostwick and Tom Wopat, each bring a quality to their readings that make the characters seem like intimate acquaintances. The listener can feel the heartbreak that Noah experiences as he reads to Allie and watches for her reactions.

I found The Notebook to be an especially powerful story, because it gave a compelling account of what truly loving someone can be like. It's easy to recommend these books to anyone because while the author doesn't use explicit sex in his descriptions, he's able to vividly depict extremely passionate relationships and encounters. These books would be helpful for anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer's, because Sparks reminds us to remember the person who was when we deal with the person who now exists. They are also ideal for anyone who fears growing older, since Noah's love is just as passionate at 87 as it was at 17. Although I usually prefer to listen to mystery, but I truly enjoyed these books and recommend them.

John Mormon

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