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Have you read The Notebook or seen the movie? Well, I did both and compared the two. Here are my thoughts on The Notebook book vs. movie.
So like every other girl on this planet - one of my favorite movies is The Notebook. I mean, you guys know me: a historical fiction love story is a for sure win.
I've seen the movie more times than I can count and I can never ever get over the amazing costume design, how adorable Rachel McAdams is as Allie, or how romantic Noah is. And if I ever want a good cry (I know there are people like me who love the feeling after a good cry) I just flip on The Notebook. Works every time.
So a long while ago, I thrifted a copy of the book The Notebook and figured I should check out how the book version matches with the movie. When I looked it up on Goodreads, I was a little wary. A lot of people said they preferred the movie to the book, so I kind of avoided reading it. Plus, I love love stories, but I'm not super into romance novels. I need a little bit more going on than just the romance in the plot.
HOWEVER, I enjoy a good Nicholas Sparks movie just as much as the next girl so I figured I would give the book a chance. It was a rainy day yesterday and today so I figured what better time to watch The Notebook and read The Notebook - and compare the two!
Here's what I thought:
Currently you can watch The Notebook on HBO Max if you are a subscriber and Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube if you want to rent.
"The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks goes beyond even the other love stories by this author. It is deeply moving and simply beautifully told and touchingly created."
*This section contains spoilers for The Notebook movie and The Notebook book*
"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 book opens the same way the movie does, in present day with Noah dealing with health problems and hinting at the fact that there is a loved one that he is reading to every day. It doesn't explicitly say here that it is Allie, but it hints at it more heavily than the movie does.
Then, it moves into 31 year old Noah sitting on the front porch of the house he is almost finished restoring. This is different to the movie because the movie introduces us to young Allie and Noah when they first meet. The book also includes Noah's dog Clem and one of his best friends Gus, characters not mentioned in the movie.
The book describes Allie as blonde with green eyes. In the movie, Allie has reddish hair and blue eyes. The town in the book is called New Bern and the town in the movie is called Seabrook. Little detail changes but still thought I would mention them!
The book immediately gives a summary of his relationship with Allie through the eyes of Noah reminiscing about the past, skimming through their first meeting and losing their virginity to each other. The movie builds to this and doesn't reveal any of it right away.
The movie says they met at a carnival in June when Allie was 17. The book mentions that Allie was 15 and Noah was 17.
Noah first sees Allie at the bumper cars in the movie and asks if she wants to dance with him. She says no. The book doesn't go into much detail about their early relationship, and only really focuses on their reunion years later. I really love the part in the movie where it goes over their young love.
The book talks about how she was dating someone else at the time she met Noah, and the movie kinds of hints at that because she is with another group of boys at the carnival.
The movie has Noah jump on the ferris wheel and ask Allie out. I love this added scene in the movie, Noah makes Allie agree and then she pulls his pants down and makes fun of him. That scene wasn't in the book.
Another movie scene that I love is when Noah tells Allie he was being "drawn to her" and that he could be anything she wants him to be. Allie still says no to their date, but Sarah and Fin set up a surprise double date. This doesn't happen in the book.
Another iconic movie scene is where Noah tells Allie he thought she would be more "free" and they lay in the street together. Allie asks Noah what happens if a car comes and Noah says they die! Allie tells Noah that she loves to paint.
Then, Noah asks Allie to dance with him in the street. So romantic!
Another scene that I just love that wasn't in the book was the "If you're a bird, I'm a bird" scene. And the "Get in the water!!!" scene.
Also, where Noah teaches Allie how to drive. I also love how the movie shows their relationship had arguments and ups and downs but they still loved each other at the end of the day.
When Noah is invited over to Allie's house, it really shows the difference in classes between Noah and Allie's family. It also shows how Allie is going to Sarah Lawrence instead of the closer college.
Movie Noah invites movie Allie to the abandoned house he loves and this is where they attempt to make love. In the movie, they never actually get around to it before they leave. It also shows that Noah promises to fix the house for Allie. Allie plays the piano which ties into the end of the movie where Allie remembers the song she plays without sheet music. In the book, Allie doesn't play the piano.
Noah and Allie have a fight because he knows she has to leave for college and her parents force her to leave without resolving things with Noah which adds a bunch of miscommunication to the storyline. Plus, Allie tries to talk to Fin before leaving but he misinterprets Noah's sadness as the relationship being over and tells Allie to move on.
This movie definitely has a lot of the miscommunication trope in it!
In the movie, Fin and Noah move to Atlanta versus New Jersey for work.
The book then jumps to Allie's perspective. She is engaged to Lon, whom she met at a Christmas party in the book, although in the movie she met him while caring for wounded soldiers. I like how the movie really plays up how much of a good guy Lon is. In the book he's described as a good man but extremely busy with work. In the movie, Lon is incredibly dedicated and in love with Allie. In the book he's a lawyer but in the movie it seems he is the head of his family's cotton company.
She is in New Bern (AKA Seabrook) and is debating whether or not to go see Noah. She has seen the newspaper article of Noah's house and has told Lon she is going antique shopping on the coast. This happens later in the movie near the climax.
The book then switches back to Noah's perspective.
In the book Noah has the same stutter as in the movie and uses poetry by Walt Whitman to fix it. He's close with his dad in both the book and the movie and is heartbroken when he passes away. In the book he works in a metal scrapping yard for someone named Mr. Goldman who appreciates his hard work for the company and gives him a small percentage share when he leaves and enlists in the army. This explains better than the movie how Noah is able to afford the house and the repairs, as when Mr. Goldman passes away, Noah receives a check for $70,000 due to the liquidation of the company. In the movie, Noah's dad gives him the money to buy the house by selling his own house but it doesn't quite explain how he is able to afford all the repairs. He explains his GI bill and the amount for the other house should help pay for everything. It shows how much his dad loves Noah.
Another part of the movie is how Noah sees Allie on the street one time when he goes in town to get stuff for the renovations. He sees her kiss Lon and realizes it's really over. In the book, he doesn't know about Lon until Allie tells him. Also, he tries to find Allie one time in the book, but he finds out that her family has moved away and there was no forwarding address so he doesn't know where to look from there.
In the book and the movie it describes Noah as incredibly hard working when it comes to the house. The movie explains it's because he snaps after seeing Allie with Lon and the book just describes it as running away from his ghosts. In the movie it mentions how Noah finishes the house and thinks about setting it on fire. He then puts it up for sale and rejects all the offers. This doesn't happen in the book.
He also talks about how he dated someone after Allie that taught him how to please a woman. In the movie, this person is Martha who is a war widow. He tells her that there are parts of him that are too broken to give to her. In the book he mentions Martha too but doesn't indicate that they were ever romantic.
The book goes back to Allie's perspective. She sees the newspaper article of Noah at her parents' house when her dad hands it to her. The movie makes a lot more sense here because it happens when she is trying on her wedding dress and her mom shows her an article in the paper announcing her wedding date to Lon. Allie unfolds the paper, sees Noah's picture, and passes out.
Another fun fact is that in the book Allie's name is Allison Nelson. I think I like the movie's version better: Allie Hamilton.
The book then explains their reunion. Allie drives up to the house and sees Noah. They hug in the book, but in the movie they are a lot more awkward. In the movie, Allie drives up to look at the house and is surprised when Noah walks out. He doesn't say much and she gets nervous and tries to drive away before running into a wooden fence. He then asks if she is okay and invites her inside.
The book then follows the movie pretty closely except for a few small facts. In the book, Noah had carved in the dock by the house "Noah loves Allie" and she notices it. They also talk about an oak tree on the property that they used to sit under and where Noah would read poetry to her. He explains that he made sure the property included the oak tree when he bought it so that no one could cut it down.
One interesting thing is that the book reveals that Allie never got Noah's letters and she immediately says she suspected her mom of holding them back. In the movie, it's a super dramatic moment in the rain where Allie asks Noah why he never wrote and he says he wrote her everyday for a year and she makes the realization that he never stopped loving her. The book also doesn't specify any specific fight they had whereas in the movie, they have a fight and then immediately after that Allie has to move and they don't get to clear anything up.
In the book Allie and Noah cook crabs while catching up. She explains that she stopped painting because she didn't think she was good enough. Noah shows her a painting he gave her at the end of the summer and says he's kept it all these years.
In the movie, Allie brings Noah and his dad a painting.
Noah's friend Fin dies in the war in both the book and the movie, and Allie jokes that Fin always had a crush on her (which doesn't happen in the movie). Another small difference is that Noah plays guitar in the book and doesn't in the movie.
Another great moment from the movie that wasn't in the book was when Allie tells Noah, "We really loved each other, didn't we?"
In the book, when Allie leaves and promises to come back the next day, Noah sits on his porch and cries.
In the movie, Lon shows up in Seabrook after being worried that Allie wasn't checking in. In the book, Lon gets nervous that Allie is in New Bern because he remembers a conversation at a party with her parents. He remembers hearing her mom mention something about "puppy love" in New Bern and Allie got really angry at her. He starts to wonder if Allie is with Noah. In the movie, a similar thing happens when Lon gets worried about Allie and Allie's dad spills the beans to him about Noah.
The book follows in a similar way to the movie when we get the scene where Noah takes Allie to feed the swans and a huge thunderstorm rolls in, except for the fact that they don't kiss and make love here. They go back to the house and Noah gives her some dry clothes. They sit by the fire and Allie tells Noah that she wrote letters to him too, but a friend convinced her that after Allie and Noah slept together he wasn't interested anymore. She didn't want to believe it, but decided it was best to move on so she never sent the letters.
Another discrepancy is that in the book, Noah says it had been 14 years since they had seen each other last, making Allie 29 and Noah 31. In the movie, Allie says she had been waiting for him for 7 years, making her 24 and him 26.
They talk by the fire and then they kiss and subsequently make love.
Another added scene to the movie is when Martha shows up and Allie invites her in. She is able to get closure and it highlights what a caring person Allie is. And the one where Noah leaves a note for Allie to find her paint room.
In the book and the movie Allie's mom comes and warns her that Lon is in town. She also give Allie the letter that Noah sent, all in a bundle unopened. In the movie, Allie's mom takes her to see the man in the lumber yard that she was in love with as a young girl. She explains that she loves Allie's dad, but Allie takes it as a symbol of her mom's choice to marry for status rather than love. This doesn't happen in the book but I think it's a good way to humanize Allie's mom. It just makes it a little strange because you would think she would see herself more in Allie and Noah earlier on and not be as hard on them.
Allie's mom also explains to Noah in the book that they liked Noah but they just wanted the best for their daughter. That is definitely the theme in the movie, but there is a little more outward disapproval for Noah in the movie.
There is a very popular scene in the movie where Noah tells Allie that he wants her and that their relationship will be hard but they'll work on it everyday. He basically begs her to stay and she leaves, still having to make her decision. This scene also happens in the book, but doesn't have any of the iconic lines from the movie.
Allie drives to the inn to talk to Lon and she tries to fix her makeup from crying. That's the same in the book and the movie. She decides to pull out Noah's last letter to read it. In the movie, Noah writes Allie 365 letters, one every day for a year. In the book, he writes her an unnamed number of letters over two and a half years.
The letter from the book is a little bit longer than the excerpt from the movie, but it has the same lines:
"My dearest Allie,
I don't know what to say anymore except that I couldn't sleep last night because I knew that it is over between us...I am not bitter because of what has happened. On the contrary, I am secure in knowing that what we had was real...And if, in some distant place in the future, we see each other in our new lives, I will smile at you with joy, and remember how we spent a summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love...
I love you Allie.
The book then cuts to Allie walking in and seeing Lon, and stating that she knows what she is going to do.
In the movie, it shows Allie's conversation with Lon. He says it's normal to not forget your first love and that he still loves her in spite of everything.
Then, we are back in the present day where Noah has finished reading from the Notebook. Allie asks if the story was real and who she picked in the end. Noah responds that she picked the right one for her. The book also hints at the fact that Allie became a renowned painter because Noah talks about going to Paris and New York art shows. The movie never mentions that.
The book says that Noah and Allie have been in the care facility for 3 years and that they boarded up their house because they couldn't bear to sell it. It also says that Noah and Allie had 5 children, and one had passed away.
In the movie, Allie meets 3 of her kids and some of her grandkids and they tell Noah he should come home. He tells them his sweetheart is there and he won't leave her.
The movie follows pretty closely to the book with what happened when Allie got diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It does, however, go into more detail about the lives of Allie and Noah after she chooses him over Lon. It talks about how they lost their 4 year old son, and how Noah wrote Allie other letters after they were reunited. It also talks about how Allie wrote Noah letters over the years too.
The movie and the book both talk about how the doctors don't believe Noah's reading to Allie is helping with her condition, but Noah disagrees.
From there, the book is pretty close to the movie. Allie suffers from sundowning after sharing a romantic evening with Noah. In the movie, she realizes the story was about her and Noah and she comes back for a moment before getting confused.
In the book it explains that Noah has to use a different name and keep his wedding ring off to help Allie's confusion (along with his hands swelling from arthritis). In the movie they are both wearing their wedding rings.
Noah later has a stroke (in the movie it's a heart attack). Allie struggles without Noah reading to her.
In the end, Noah sneaks into Allie's room on their anniversary and a miracle happens where Allie recognizes him. The book and the movie describe the same nurse telling Noah she is going to get a cup of coffee even though she has a hot cup sitting there already, basically giving Noah the go-ahead to see Allie.
The book ends vaguely, simply mentioning that Noah and Allie share a romantic moment, whereas the movie seems to point directly to the fact that they pass away together in the night.
Both The Notebook book and movie had the same core of an amazing love story. I think the movie was able to really dive deeper into Allie and Noah's early relationship which makes me a little more partial to the movie.
That being said, I read the book in one day and it was super interesting to see all the difference between the two. If you've ever been curious about the difference between the book and the movie I definitely think it's worth the read.
I can confirm that both the book and the movie are heart-wrenching in the best way!
How many times have you seen or read The Notebook???