Love Story by Erich Segal: Book Review

‘Love Story’ is one of the most romantic novels of all time, written by Erich Segal and published in 1970.

We have seen umpteen versions and adaptations of this story on screen. The rich boy and poor girl love story has been the most popular one ever since. Still, when you read ‘Love Story’, it strikes an emotional chord and makes for a perfect read on Valentine’s day!!

Story Overview

The story is about two college sweethearts – Oliver Barrett and Jennifer Cavilleri. Oliver is the heir to Barrett’s legacy while Jennifer is a baker’s daughter.

Oliver meets Jennifer for the first time at the Radcliffe Library. Jennifer works at the library and also studies music. When Oliver looks at Jennifer, she is “bespectacled mouse type” and he asks her to find a book from the library. But, she comes straight on him, calling him ‘Preppie’ and saying that he looks ‘stupid and rich’.

Oliver wants Jennifer to believe that he is smart and poor but she says that the reality is otherwise, it is she who is smart and poor. The brawl continues as Oliver is coaxed into taking Jennifer for coffee in return for finding the book.

Even though Jennifer knows about Oliver’s rich legacy, for it is evident in the existence of Barrett Hall at Harvard, she does not treat Oliver with awe. Perhaps, it is this indifferent attitude that wins over Oliver and he is determined to get Jennifer in his life.

Oliver invites Jennifer for the hockey match at the college which he thinks would impress her. He tries hard to impress Jennifer with his skills at the match but ends up getting the penalty. The next thing we know is that Oliver falls on the ice and gets up with a vengeance to score against the opponent. After the win, Oliver has to stay back because of the injury and then, realizes that probably Jennifer is still waiting for him. She does wait for Oliver in the dark and cold. Oliver walks her to the dormitory and professes his love for her.  

There is an unexplained antagonism between Oliver and his father. Oliver is burdened with the expectation to be first in everything owing to his family heritage; even his name carries the numerals denoting the family legacy.

Oliver Barrett III comes all the way to Boston to see his son during the hockey match. Oliver gets injured and has got stitches on his cheek. Mr.Barrett takes Oliver to dinner and as usual, there is no conversation between the two. He expects Oliver to get admission to the law school and is resolved to help him. But, Oliver remains non-committal regarding his future pursuits.

On the other side, Jennifer has a terrific relationship with her father, whom she addresses as Phil. When Oliver overhears Jenny saying ‘I love you, Phil’ on phone, he is rather jealous for he doesn’t know about him. You see the contrast between the two fathers on how they treat their children.

Even though Phil is reluctant, he agrees to the two getting married while Oliver III asks his son to wait till completion of his degree or else he is to be disowned. It is rather intriguing that Oliver’s mother is negated as a character, who only seems to be by her husband’s side.

Oliver and Jennifer decide to keep the marriage ceremony simple, organised at the University. The two work really hard to overcome financial adversities post their marriage. Oliver is dependent on Jennifer for income and covering his college expenditure. At the end of three years of financial hardships, Oliver gets a lucrative job and life seems to be happy. At this juncture, the biggest tragedy of life awaits the two.

Summing Up

Perhaps, the lines like, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” were the precursor to the whole generation of love quotes that were to come. The simple narrative make for a heartwarming read.

This is a book that leaves you tear smudged and with gratitude for the love you have, in your life.

4 thoughts on “Love Story by Erich Segal: Book Review”

  1. I have read the book at least 7 times and seen the movie at least 15 times. One of the best of all times, in my opinion. While reading your post, I was wondering when you were going to mention the famous line \”Loves means…\” I am glad you mentioned it at the end.


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