Literary Criticism and Significance
Though Sparks’s The Notebook did not always enjoy favorable remarks from literary critics, readers kept the novel on bestseller lists for over a year after it was published. The author also reportedly received a $1 million advance from Warner Books before it was published in 1996, a sign that they believed the book would sell big. And New Line Cinema produced a movie version of the novel, which opened in 2004 to large audiences. The novel is often compared to previous big-selling romantic stories such as Erich Segal’s Love Story (1970), Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County (1992), and Nicholas Evans’s The Horse Whisperer (1995) all of them about love and loss.
Writing for The Christian Century, Martha Whitmore Hickman observed that The Notebook hit a nerve with the reading public. Hickman speculated that this was due to book’s emphasis on fidelity and loving feelings experiences that most readers crave. Though cynics might say the book is too simplistic and unreal, Hickman clung to her idea that Sparks created a world that many readers dream about.
Though Trudi Miller Rosenblum, writing for Billboard, found the author’s writing to be “sentimental, repetitive, and often clichéd,” an anonymous reviewer for Tulsa World wrote that The Notebook was “a story poets, song writers and novelists dream of creating but seldom do.”
The Notebook was Nicholas Sparks’s first published novel. He wrote two prior to this, but they have not made it out of his desk drawer. But since the success of The Notebook, he has written more than a dozen more. Seven of those novels have been adapted to film.