Endless Love

( 35 )


First published in 1979, and hailed as "one of the best books of the year" by the "New York Times", this "moving story of first love (is) everything a novel should be" ("Chicago Tribune").
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First published in 1979, and hailed as "one of the best books of the year" by the "New York Times", this "moving story of first love (is) everything a novel should be" ("Chicago Tribune").
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061926006
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 417
  • Sales rank: 220,570
  • Product dimensions: 8.26 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Spencer is the author of nine previous novels, including A Ship Made of Paper, Waking the Dead, and the international bestseller Endless Love. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and Harper’s, and has taught writing at Columbia University, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Williams College, and for the Bard Prison Initiative. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York.


Scott Spencer once defined a novelist as "someone who sits around in his underwear all day, trying not to smoke." For Spencer, not smoking has been a productive occupation. His best-known novel, Endless Love, sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. The story of teenage love and obsession has drawn high praise from other novelists, including Anne Tyler and Michael Ondaatje. Joyce Carol Oates wrote, "No description of Endless Love can do justice to the rich, startling and always intelligent tenor of [Spencer's] prose."

Less fortunately for Spencer, Endless Love also attracted the attention of Franco Zeffirelli, who directed a disastrous Brooke Shields vehicle based on the book (the 1981 movie periodically turns up on critics' lists of the worst movies of all time). But while Endless Love was, as Jonathan Lethem opined in Salon, a good book overshadowed by a bad movie, Spencer's next novel, about a political candidate haunted by the memory of his late fiancée, got an actual boost from Hollywood. After Keith Gordon filmed Waking the Dead in 1999 with Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly in the lead roles, the book was reissued, gaining thousands of new readers. As Spencer notes in an interview on his publisher's web site, "The best thing about having a movie made of your novel is that more people read the book."

Spencer published several books between the first edition of Waking the Dead and its reissue, including Men in Black, the tale of a literary novelist whose pseudonymous hackwork earns him sudden fame and fortune, and The Rich Man's Table, the fictional memoir of a Dylan-like folk singer's illegitimate son. The Los Angeles Times Book Review called Men in Black "the Cadillac of novels -- every word vibrating with a kind of shameless big-boned American grace."

With his recent novel A Ship Made of Paper, Spencer returns to his earlier themes: romantic obsession and overpowering desire. "What makes this brave, dazzling novel so impossible to put down is the urgency with which it makes you care about what happens to its characters: male and female, black and white, young and old," wrote Francine Prose. "Scott Spencer has a genius for observing dramatic everyday moments when the self crashes into the barriers of class and race and culture, together with infinite compassion for the wayward impulse that turns human beings into fanatics willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of romantic love."

Critics have credited Spencer with an ambitious prose style and a keen grasp of contemporary culture, but what distinguishes his work most is his ability to tap into the intense currents of emotion beneath the surface of domestic life. As New York magazine noted, "In a literary age marked by cool, cerebral fiction, Spencer writes from the heart."

Good To Know

In our interview, Spencer revealed his love for all types of music. "My daughter, son, and I are always making mix tapes for each other, sharing the music we love," Spencer shares. "I have no musical talent, but music is a part of nearly every day. I still love the music I grew up with -- from Elvis to Motown to Otis Redding -- but as I grow older I find more and more music to love. I have major CD storage issues."

Spencer has taught fiction writing at Columbia University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has written for The New York Times, Esquire, The Nation, GQ, and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

The film version of Endless Love, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, was (as TV Guide put it) "a notorious disaster," but it marked the film debut of three future stars: Tom Cruise, James Spader, and Jami Gertz. The movie's theme song won Lionel Ritchie an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

A Ship Made of Paper is the fourth novel of Spencer's that uses Leyden, New York as a backdrop.

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    1. Hometown:
      Rhinebeck, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 1, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B. A., University of Wisconsin, 1969

Read an Excerpt

Endless Love

By Scott Spencer

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 1988 Scott Spencer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345356241

Chapter One

When I was seventeen and in full obedience to my heart's most urgent commands, I stepped far from the pathway of normal life and in a moment's time ruined everything I loved - I loved so deeply, and when the love was interrupted, when the incorporeal body of love shrank back in terror and my own body was locked away, it was hard for others to believe that a life so new could suffer so irrevocably. But now, years have passed and the night of August 12, 1967, still divides my life.

It was a hot, dense Chicago night. There were no clouds, no stars, no moon. The lawns looked black and the trees looked blacker; the headlights of the cars made me think of those brave lights the miners wear, up and down the choking shaft. And on that thick and ordinary August night, I set fire to a house inside of which were the people I adored more than anyone else in the world, and whose home I valued more than the home of my parents.

Before I set fire to their house I was hidden on their big wooden semicircular porch, peering into their window. I was in a state of grief. It was the agitated, snarling grief of a boy whose long rapturous story has not been understood. My feelings were raw and tender, and I watched the Butterfields through the weave of their curtains with tears of true and helpless longing in my eyes. I could see (and love) that perfect family while they went on and on with their evening without seeing me.

It was a Saturday night and they were together. Ann and her husband, Hugh, sat in front of the empty fireplace, on the bare pumpkin pine floor. (How I admired them for leaving their good wooden floors uncovered.) Ann and Hugh, sitting close, paged through an art book, turning the pages with extraordinary slowness and care. They seemed enraptured with each other that night. At times, their relationship seemed one perennial courtship; hesitant, impassioned, never at rest. They seldom took each other for granted and I had never seen married people whose moments of closeness had such an aura of triumph and relief.

Keith Butterfield, my age, the oldest son, and whose passing curiosity in me had been my original admittance into the Butterfield household, also sat on the floor, not far from his parents, where he fussed with the innards of a stereo receiver he was building. Keith, too, seemed to be moving slower than normal, and I wondered if I was seeing them all through the gummy agony of a dream. Keith looked to be exactly what he was: the smartest boy in Hyde Park High School. Keith couldn't help learning things. He could go to a Russian movie and even as he concentrated on the subtitles he'd be picking up twenty or thirty Russian words. He couldn't touch a wristwatch without wanting to take it apart; he couldn't glance at a menu without memorizing it. Pale, with round eyeglasses and unruly hair, in blue jeans, black undershirt, and beatnik-y sandals, Keith laid his hands on the spread-out parts of the stereo, as if he wanted not to build it but to cure it. Then he picked up a small screwdriver, and looked at the overhead light through the mango-colored plastic handle. He pursed his lips - sometimes Keith looked older than his parents - and then he got up and went upstairs.

Sammy, the younger son, twelve years old, was sprawled out on the couch, naked except for a pair of khaki shorts Blond, bronze, and blue-eyed, his prettiness was almost comically conventional - he looked like the kind of picture little girls tuck into the corner of their mirror. Sammy was somewhat outside the Butterfield mold. In a family that cultivated its sense of idiosyncrasyand its sense of personal uniqueness, Sammy's genius already seemed to be taking the form of profound regularity. Athlete, dancer, paperboy, bloodbrother, and heart throb, Sammy was the least retiring, the least internal Butterfield; we all really did believe, even when he was twelve, that one day Sammy would be President.

And then there was Jade. Curled into an armchair, wearing a loose, old-fashioned blouse and a pair of unflattering shorts that reached almost to the knee. She looked chaste, sleepy, and had the disenfranchised air of a sixteen-year-old girl at home with her family on a Saturday night. I scarcely dared look at her; I thought I might simply hurtle myself through the window and reclaim her as my own. It had been seventeen days since I'd been banished from their home and I tried not to wonder what changes had taken place in my absence. Jade looked at the wall; her face seemed waxy, blank; the nervous knee jiggle was gone - cured by my banishment? - and she sat unnervingly still. She had a clipboard wedged between her narrow hip and the side of the chair, and she held in her hand one of those fat ballpoint pens that have three separate cartridges, a black, a blue, and a red.

I still believe the statement that gives the truest sense of my state of mind that night is that I started the fire so the Butterfields would have to leave their house and confront me. The trouble with excuses, however, is that they become inevitably difficult to believe after they've been used a couple of times. It's like that word game children discover: you repeat a word often enough and it loses all meaning. Foot. Foot. A hundred times foot, until finally what is foot? But even though the truth of my motive has worn a little thin (and through its diaphanous middle I can detect other possible motives), I can still say that indeed the clearest thought I had when I lit the match was that starting a fire on the porch was somehow a better way of rousing the Butterfields from their exclusive evening than a shout from the sidewalk or a stone against the window ...


Excerpted from Endless Love by Scott Spencer Copyright © 1988 by Scott Spencer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2005

    The best, and worst, that comes from the intensity of love

    I actually read this book awhile ago, but it has stuck with me due to the raw emotions it engendered. You can really feel the depth of David's torture. To me the book presents this question (a variation, I suppose, of 'is it better to have loved and lost ...'): Is love that is so strong that it leads to havoc in the lives of two families worth it? The author leaves the answer to that one to the reader, although I would say he certainly challenges the reader who, like me, wants to say 'yes, pure unapologetic love between two people is worth the cost.' After all, the cost in this book is quite high. The final sadness of this story is revealed with the passage of time as we see how the two teenage lovers have gone on with their lives. Jade has reconciled her past and moved on, while David remains stuck emotionally to the pangs of his first love. The sadness to me is the realization that he lost, or more accurately never grasped, the opportunity to appreciate the youthful wonder of what he shared with Jade. The reader is left at the end of the story with the irony of the book's title: the endless nature of the love in this story is both a gift and a curse to the two lovers. I believe that terms such as haunting or heartbreaking are often used too often, but having said that, I will conclude by saying this is truly a haunting story that will break your heart.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2003

    a rare read

    I read this book when it first came out, in 1980, and was astonished at the depth of feeling expressed by the characters in this book. I was even more astonished that a man could write about romantic obsession with such heart and lack of irony. Some may call this book sentimental or overwrought, but isn't that what being madly in love is all about? I don't usually read romances, as I find them shallow and dull, but this book is a rare exception. I recently decided to read it again, but to my dismay realized I no longer had it, and had to order it through interlibrary loan through my library. Young David Axelrod loves Jade Butterfield to the point of insanity, and cannot let go, in spite of his family's and psychiatrist's best efforts to reintroduce him to the mundane reality of a life without the only thing he cares about. David is not only obsessed with Jade, whom he has been forbidden to see after accidentally setting fire to her house (a ploy meant only to get her attention); he is obsessed with her whole weird, left-wing family of academics, and the interplay of his relationships with the rest of the Butterfields over the years shows us a multifaceted, tortured man who is unable to let go of the past and sculpt a new life for himself. The movie based on this movie was a disaster, and unfortunately destroyed this book's potential to become an enduring literary contribution. The title may have also turned off some readers. This is a shame, since I think this could otherwise be a minor classic. Be forewarned: the emotions--and sex scenes--in this book are very intense, but to anyone who has been in love to the point of obsession, everything will seem very familiar, and not at all overdone. The sex is pretty explicit--but never tasteless, as it's always written in the context of being deeply in love. It's pure poetry. David is a martyr for love--tortured, miserable, helpless in his obsession, and yet heroic all at the same time. I have read several of Spencer's other novels, but this one remains my favorite.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2007

    The madness of love

    WOW!This was a great book. It is about David Axelrod and his obsessive, passionate, sweet, yet disturbing love for Jade Butterfield. He loves her so much that when he is suddenly banned from her house he decides to set a safe to her house, and become her savoir. The story takes on from there with the story from David's point of view. Their is a sex scence that goes for pages and pages of the book that is so disturbing, but yet romantic. The last two pages of the book just will grab a hold of you and never let go. This book didn't get five stars because I wanted to know more about Jade. She doesn't appear until the last half of the book. Since the story is from David's point of view we don't ever really know what she is thinking about everything. I found myself saying a lot David please just let her go, just try to move on, but in the end his love for Jade was just Endless.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    Beautifully Crafted Tale of Fierce Love Teetering on Insanity

    I relished every page. Each of the characters and settings was so well developed, I was immediately transplanted into the middle of this normally dysfunctional family, and landed in the hot lap of this first love so fierce it threatened to consume us all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    I watched the movie

    I loved it so bad david was so fricken cute

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014


    Im 6"8 hispanic dark wild longish black hair brown kind sweet eyes phycotic sometimes kind gental sometimes mean ofpr cruel or jerkish i play basketball soccer baseball and football

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014


    Yep. And could you describe yourself?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    Not a romance great book crappy movied

    Over the top crazy
    Took me a few days to read, written in a styke to make you think.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014

    WOW> really I went into this book with an idea of what it was

    WOW> really I went into this book with an idea of what it was about, and MAN was I wrong. This book's most insane character actually seems like the only sane one of the bunch. Except for Sammy. The book however it was supposed to be about love. And there was love, but he seemed truly to be the only one in it. The family was more about jealousy. This beautiful intelligent boy entered a house searching for connection and exposed all the ugliness this family had and more. Dad jealous how easy this boy connected to everyone in his family, Mom jealous of daughter, daughter jealous of mother, and older brother seemed jealous of boy for ability to be with the sister. WOW. And then my favorite quote from this book, seems to sum up this book "And I was thinking today how a little thing like that can temper your whole life, how it can tilt the way people see you and how that influences the way you see yourself, how it circumscribes the arc of your behavior." It is amazing how that seems to be more the rule than the exception. Sad but true,I really felt for David he came from such a cold and distant family and he just wanted to find someone to love him, all of him, and instead he found Jade. I think Susan was partially right I think Jade used him, but I think it was more for dysfunctional self to feel whole. That someone would love her honestly and unconditionally. Jade did not need David to create chaos, because the chaos and dysfunction was already there, David was the light. I thought it was wrong of him to be treated as though he killed Hugh. Hugh's obsession with David killed Hugh. I wanted to smack Jade when she said that David lured Hugh into the street. I am still reeling from the fact that my preconceived idea of this book was so off.    

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    I loved it ! I just cried so much when i finished reading, and i

    I loved it ! I just cried so much when i finished reading, and i find myself missing the book ! and when the movie came out i just nearly died. jk lol but its an amazing read. the overall meaning of the book just broke my heart and i cried so much it made my boyfriend feel so sad and he didn't even read the book lol. ugh and the song from the movie, explosions by ellie goudling on repeat, while i drink wine i swear id pick that book and read it all over again! oh david..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Excellent read - ignore the cover art

    I was astounded by how much of this novel I didn't remember from my first reading. Granted I was in high school at the time and probably most interested in the 'dirty' bits my friends talked about so I may have found the pages in between too much to read much less fully appreciate. I admire Mr. Spencer's attempts to express the inexpressible, to make reason out of the chaos of love and passion and the resulting pathos that can occur. And I really like that this is told from the male perspective rather than the female. The writing is excellent throughout, his descriptions of the times and settings of the novel almost luxurious. His characters are well rounded, no one truly despicable and no one truly angelic but a fine mix of both, making each individual and heart-breakingly human. The only thing I found off-putting is the cover art, which doesn't square with the story. It makes it appear the novel is about a young girl's deflowering, which it certainly isn't. If I hadn't already known about the story, I probably wouldn't have given it a second look, never mind a first read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    This book. In this book I had certain expectations given,it has

    This book. In this book I had certain expectations given,it has been a very popular upcoming remake movie to be premiered this Valentine's Day. I saw the trailer and I immediately began research to find out if it was a movie based on book. I was excited to find that it was indeed a book. I was prepared for a summer first love romance novel like the trailer led me to believe. It was not at all what I expected. I feel like a rug has been pulled from beneath me in the utter shock of what I spent my entire night reading. I kept thinking, "Surely this can't be it. When's the happy love part?". It never came. IT NEVER CAME. Instead of a first love romance, I got a depressing, devastating, dark, sometimes wordy boring, at times disgusting roller coaster of crazy book. 
        I initially rated the book a two because I was so disappointed in having my high expectations burned as the house did in the very beginning, but now that I've calmed a bit. I realize I have to rate this book a three, because of the emotions it's brought out. I will never read it again. I won't refer it to anyone. I will warn every friend that doesn't have the crazy trait that I do that makes me have to read the book before the movie to prepare them as much as I can for what they are walking into. The emotions were a crazy mix between The Silver Linings Playbook and Revolutionary Road for me. I was so excited for Revolutionary Road to come out in theaters because it was the first movie since Leo and Kate starred together since Titanic. I rented the book and BAM! A depressing hopeless dark read. I never could bring myself to watch the movie after I read that book and honestly I don't know if I can stomach watching Endless love after reading this book. It's not only about David and his hopeless, stalking, depressive, obsessive, dark, mission in his life that keeps me away. I mean some parts, especially one in particular. (If you read the book, you know which I'm thinking about..) It was disgusting and extremely hard to read. I can't and don't want to imagine them putting that on screen. This book was strange. The characters...all of them were STRANGE. Yet through out all the madness I found at times it was hard to put down and got interesting. I'm thankful for those parts, because it helped me get through the book, but damn. David has been driven away by his own family. He falls in a crazy love with Jade. He becomes obsessed with not only her, but her family. He finally found his place where he belonged, then lost it all and his mind. This book wasn't about their love story. It was about their end. Not just Jade and David's end, but the entire family's. I cannot stress how dark this read is. How crazy messed up the families are, and the fact that if you are going in hopeful for a happy ending with rainbows and unicorns. You simply are not going to get it. The adrenaline from reading this book is still pumping through my veins. I'm still shaking my head. I would understand anyone who rated the book on each level of 1-5, because at some point in my thought process of writing this review I experienced each. I think of it like in good shows or movies when an actor plays a bad guy. You just hate him. That shows a good actor. He played his part correctly. He took over your emotions. This is how I feel about the author. Scott Spencer took over my emotions and completely blew my mind. I've never had this feeling before. Usually after I read a book that I know is going to be a movie. I have too high expectations demanding it to be play by play from the book. This time is different. I'm hoping it is nothing like the book. Give me their love story that I was tricked into thinking I was getting. That is if I find the courage to watch it. After reading this. I'm going on a light read hiatus. I was so not ready for that read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    One of the tribe borders

    There is still tribe territory on the next results ~ Falcon that hunts at dawn.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012



    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2012

    Steven/ michael/ adam

    Lololololol. This is hilarious miley lol. Brb. My rabbit just gave birth. I goota go chek on her.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Really enjoyed this book

    Took a little while to get into it, but once i did i couldn't put it down!

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    Perfect Book!!!!!

    I've watched the movie when i was about sixteen, and i always wondered what happened to David after he was institutionalized. i needed closure. so i googled the title Endless love and discovered scott spencer book. i say the book hands down is the Best!!! I finally know what happened to Jade and David now that i'm twenty six i have closure. Scott Spencer really got into details, things i never knew about the characters. My next book is by scott spencer and so look forward to write another excellent review !!

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  • Posted March 10, 2011


    Spencer's best work. So beautifully crafted you savor each chapter.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Absolutely a Great Read

    I had seen the Brooke Shields movie "Endless Love" several years ago and never knew it was based on a novel. It was actually my liking of the movie that made me read the novel. The novel was much better than I could have imagined, very more detailed, and goes much more into David and Jade's all consuming love for one another than the movie ever does. This is definitely not your typical romance novel by any means. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend this book to all of my friends.

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  • Posted January 7, 2010

    LOVE this book.

    This book is my favorite of all time. Have read it over and over. It is so gripping and pulls you into their lives. Very well written and original. Not your average romance book. They made a movie about this book with Brooke Shields, but I don't think it even began to give it justice so don't judge the book by the movie. Excellent read.

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