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Love Story (novel)

This article is about the novel. For the film, see Love Story (1970 film). For the musical, see Love Story (musical). For the radio play, see Juliet Ace#Love Story.
First edition cover
Author Erich Segal
Original title Love Story
Country United States
Language English
Genre Romance novel
Publisher Harper & Row (USA), Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Publication date
February 14, 1970
Media type Hardcover, paperback
Pages 131
ISBN 0-340-12508-X
Followed by Oliver's Story

Love Story is a 1970 romance novel by American writer Erich Segal. The book's origins lay in a screenplay that Segal wrote, and that was subsequently approved for production by Paramount Pictures. Paramount requested that Segal adapt the story into novel form as a preview of sorts for the film. The novel was released on February 14, 1970, Valentine's Day. Portions of the story originally appeared in The Ladies' Home Journal.[1][clarification needed] Love Story became the top-selling work of fiction for all of 1970 in the United States, and was translated into more than 20 languages. The novel stayed for 41 weeks in The New York Times Best Seller list, reaching the top spot. A sequel, Oliver's Story, was published in 1977. The film (Love Story) was released on December 16, 1970. Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se, a 1978 Hindi film, was based on this novel.


Love Story is romantic and funny yet tragic. It is the tale of two college students whose love enables them to overcome the adversities they encounter in life: Oliver Barrett IV, a Harvard jock and heir to the Barrett fortune and legacy, and Jennifer Cavilleri, the quick-witted daughter of a Rhode Island baker. Oliver (Ollie) was expected to assume control of his father's business empire, while Jennifer (Jenny), a music major studying at Radcliffe College planned to study in Paris. From very different worlds, Oliver and Jenny immediately attracted each other and their love deepened. The story of Jenny and Ollie is a story of two young people who come from two separate worlds and are joined together in the unlikeliest of ways.

Upon graduation from college, the two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver's father, who promptly severs all ties with his son. Without financial support, the couple struggles to pay Oliver's way through Harvard Law School, with Jenny working as a private school teacher. Graduating third in his class, Oliver gets several job offers and takes up a position at a respectable New York law firm. Jenny promises to follow Oliver anywhere on the East Coast. The couple moves to New York City, excited to spend more time together, rather than in working and studying. With Oliver's new income, the pair of 24-year-olds decide to have a child. After Jenny fails to conceive, they consult a medical specialist, who after repeated tests, informs Oliver and Jenny that Jenny is suffering from leukemia and will soon die.

As instructed by his doctor, Oliver attempts to live a "normal life" without telling Jenny of her condition. Jenny nevertheless discovers her ailment after confronting her doctor about her recent illness. With their days together numbered, Jenny begins a costly cancer therapy, and Oliver soon becomes unable to afford the multiplying hospital expenses. Desperate, he seeks financial relief from his father. Instead of telling his father what the money is truly for, Oliver misleads him. From her hospital bed, Jenny speaks with her father about funeral arrangements, and then asks for Oliver. She tells him to avoid blaming himself, and asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. When Mr. Barrett realizes that Jenny is ill and that his son borrowed the money for her, he immediately sets out for New York. By the time he reaches the hospital, Jenny is dead. Mr. Barrett apologizes to his son, who replies with something Jenny had once told him: "Love means never having to say you're sorry..." and breaks down in his arms.


Al Gore has often stated that the plot is based on his life at Harvard; in 1997 Segal explained that "only the emotional family baggage of the romantic hero... was inspired by a young Al Gore. But it was Gore's Harvard roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, who inspired the half of the character that was a sensitive stud, a macho athlete with the heart of a poet". Erich Segal had met both Mr. Jones and Mr. Gore at Harvard in 1968, when he was there on sabbatical.[2] Despite these claims, the book is essentially an updating of The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, which was also the basis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata.

See also


  1. ^ Erich Segal. Love Story. (Harper & Row) 1970.
  2. ^ Henneberger, Melinda (14 December 1997). "Author of 'Love Story' Disputes a Gore Story". New York Times. 

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