Love Story

Love Story

by Erich Segal

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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“Funny, touching and infused with wonder, as all love stories should be.”—San Francisco Examiner

An enduring classic and the basis for the blockbuster 1970 film starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, this 50th anniversary edition features a new introduction by [writer to come] and P.S. Section with illuminating material about the book.

The basis for the 1970 film starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, Erich Segal's Love Story is an enduring classic that has captured hearts for almost 50 years.

Love Story, the basis for the 1970 film starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, is an enduring classic that has captured hearts for 50 years.

It is the story of Oliver Barrett IV, a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law, and Jenny Cavilleri, a wisecracking working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe.

Oliver and Jenny - kindred spirits from different worlds - meet, talk, question, answer and fall for each other so deeply that no one, themselves included, can understand it. So instead of trying to understand it, they accept it and live it as best they can.

This is their story - a story of two young people and a love so uncompromising it will bring joy to your heat and tears to your eyes. It is the story that told the world, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380017607
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/29/2012
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 102,476
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Erich Segal's first three novels, Love Story, Oliver's Story, and Man, Woman and Child, were all international bestsellers and became major motion pictures. His fourth novel, The Class, was a New York Times bestseller and won literary prizes in both France and Italy. Segal is also the author of Doctors and Acts of Faith and Prizes.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?

That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me. Once, when she specifically lumped me with those musical types, I asked her what the order was, and she replied, smiling, “Alphabetical.” At the time I smiled too. But now I sit and wonder whether she was listing me by my first name -- in which case I would trail Mozart -- or by my last name, in which case I would edge in there between Bach and the Beatles. Either way I don't come first, which for some stupid reason bothers hell out of me, having grown up with the notion that I always had to be number one. Family heritage, don't you know?

In the fall of my senior year, I got into the habit of studying at the Radcliffe library. Not just to eye the cheese, although I admit that I liked to look. The place was quiet, nobody knew me, and the reserve books were less in demand. The day before one of my history hour exams, I still hadn't gotten around to reading the first book on the list, an endemic Harvard disease. I ambled over to the reserve desk to get one of the tomes that would bail me out on the morrow. There were two girls working there. One a tall tennis-anyone type, the other a bespectacled mouse type. I opted for Minnie Four-Eyes.

“Do you have The Waning of the Middle Ages?”

She shot a glance up at me.

“Do you have your own library?” she asked.

“Listen, Harvard is allowed to use the Radcliffe library.”

“I'm not talkinglegality, Preppie, I'm talking ethics. You guys have five million books. We have a few lousy thousand.”

Christ, a superior-being type! The kind who think since the ratio of Radcliffe to Harvard is five to one, the girls must be five times as smart. I normally cut these types to ribbons, but just then I badly needed that goddamn book.

“Listen, I need that goddamn book.”

“Wouldja please watch your profanity, Preppie?”

“What makes you so sure I went to prep school?”

“You look stupid and rich,” she said, removing her glasses.

“You're wrong,” I protested. “I'm actually smart and poor.”

“Oh, no, Preppie. I'm smart and poor.”

She was staring straight at me. Her eyes were brown. Okay, maybe I look rich, but I wouldn't let some 'Cliffie -- even one with pretty eyes -- call me dumb.

“What the hell makes you so smart?” I asked.

“I wouldn't go for coffee with you,” she answered.

“Listen -- I wouldn't ask you.”

“That,” she replied, “is what makes you stupid.”

Let me explain why I took her for coffee. By shrewdly capitulating at the crucial moment -- i.e., by pretending that I suddenly wanted to -- I got my book. And since she couldn't leave until the library closed, I had plenty oftime to absorb some pithy phrases about the shift of royal dependence from cleric to lawyer in the late eleventh century. I got an A minus on the exam, coincidentally the same grade I assigned to Jenny's legs when she first walked from behind that desk. I can't say I gave her costume an honor grade, however; it was a bit too Boho for my taste. I especially loathed that Indian thing she carried for a handbag. Fortunately I didn't mention this, as I later discovered it was of her own design.

We went to the Midget Restaurant, a nearby sandwich joint which, despite its name, is not restricted to people of small stature. I ordered two coffees and a brownie with ice cream (for her).

“I'm Jennifer Cavilleri,” she said, “an American of Italian descent.”

As if I wouldn't have known. “And a music major,” she added.

“My name is Oliver,” I said.

“First or last?” she asked.

“First,” I answered, and then confessed that my entire name was Oliver Barrett. (I mean, that's most of it.)

“Oh,” she said. “Barrett, like the poet?”

“Yes,” I said. “No relation.”

In the pause that ensued, I gave inward thanks that she hadn't come up with the usual distressing question: “Barrett, like the hall?” For it is my special albatross to be related to the guy that built Barrett Hall, the largest and ugliest structure in Harvard Yard, a colossal monument to my family's money, vanity and flagrant Harvardism.

After that, she was pretty quiet. Could we have run out of conversation so quickly? Had I turned her off by not being related to the poet? What? She simply sat there, semi-smiling at me. For something to do, I checked out her notebooks. Her handwriting was curious -- small sharp little letters with no capitals (who did she think she was, e. e. cummings?). And she was taking some pretty snowy courses: Comp.Lit. 105, Music 150, Music 201 --

“Music 201? Isn't that a graduate course?”

She nodded yes, and was not very good at masking her pride.

“Renaissance polyphony.”

“What's polyphony?”

“Nothing sexual, Preppie.”

Why was I putting up with this? Doesn't she read the Crimson? Doesn't she know who I am?

“Hey, don't you know who I am?”

“Yeah,” she answered with kind of disdain. “You're the guy that owns Barrett Hall.”

She didn't know who I was.

“I don't own Barrett Hall,” I quibbled. “My great-grandfather happened to give it to Harvard.”

“So his not-so-great grandson would be sure to get in!”

That was the limit.

“Jenny, if you're so convinced I'm a loser, why did you bulldoze me into buying you coffee?”

She looked me straight in the eye and smiled.

“I like your body,” she said.

Part of being a big winner is the ability...

Love Story. Copyright © by Erich Segal. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Love Story 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in the 70's when I was about 12. I loved the characters so much that my oldest daughter is named Jennifer and my cat is named Ollie! The story moved me so much that I have re-read the book every couple of years since. These characters are real - not perfect people. What they go through to be together is very inspirational. Most of the story is set in Boston (where I grew up) and Erich Segal has a way of writing that made me feel like I was actually at the places in the book. The movie is excellent also, but if you haven't done so, please consider reading this book first. It will touch your heart forever.I
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book atleast 10 times and it never gets old and always makes me cry (even though i know whats going to happen). This is an amazing book that everyone should read atleast once.
emmyAG More than 1 year ago
I read this book in about 4 hours last night, I couldn't put it down and when I did it was only to reach for the tissues and dry my eyes. I have read many books as I condersider myself as a well read person, but this book took my breath away. I have never come across one like it before and I dare say I ever will again. I implore any one who picks it up to read it, you'll be glad you did.
Sauerkraut More than 1 year ago
The only book that ever kept me up all night reading and then made me cry all morning!!! Loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is very difficult to write something about a book that has been so hyped, discussed and praised the world over. As I discovered, Love Story is a poignant tale that touches your heart and leaves its imprint forever. We meet Oliver who narrates the whole experience as to how he met, loved and lost the most important person in his life, Jennifer. Jenny's character wins your heart as she unsuccessfully tries to thaw the relations between Oliver and his father, how she spurs Oliver on (in law school studies, his hockey games) and so many more moments. Oliver himself is so endearing and likeable that you can¿t stop laughing when he actually convinces Jenny to name their would-be son, Bozo (yikes!!!). Although the reader knows beforehand that Jenny is supposedly going to die, you somehow get so involved in the plot that you don¿t want her to leave Oliver. The ending of the book is so simple and stark that I had to reread the chapter to enforce the ending of the story. Many people cry at the end of this epic novel, which was something, that had made me really curious to read the book. At the end when Oliver breaks down in his father's arms, it is safe to say that I was pretty numb with the whole experience. Jenny' final words are a simple 'Thanks, Ollie'. I think along with the now famous quote from this book ¿Love means never having to say you are sorry¿, the author should have also mentioned that love also means never having to say thanks. Its a very unpretentious small book; just over 150 pages but once you start reading it you will finish it in one go. What¿s different about this novel is that the bulk of the novel consists of actual conversations between the characters, which is very realistic. This tragic story of love inspires and enriches anyone who reads it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As Timeless as Love Erich Segal's Love Story is about two young people Jennifer and Oliver, passionately in love with each other. The simplicity of the storyline of opposites attract and can make it work made it something to which readers can easily relate. Their near perfect love was however confronted by Jennifer's fatal cancer. Erich very lucidly captured the beauty and joy that love brings to one's life as well as the pain that one feels at the loss of such love after such a short span of companionship. While the loss was extremely painful Oliver also felt blessed that his life was touched by such selfless love. There are few things one cannot make sense of and for Oliver Jennifer's death was one of them as pointed out by the book's opening lines. It is a simple, lucidly written, beautiful love story to which one can get back again and again to feel the beauty of love. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book and an even more amazing movie. I always cry at the end.
joannemepham29 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In just a few words (like the story), this was too short. I did not feel a connection to the love between the characters or the characters. I thought it was a good story line, but it was so fast paced and short I felt no loss or sadness, nor romance. I liked it though, and wished it had been more detailed.
gravadorm13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Story, by Erich Segal, is a book about two people who have nothing in common but love. I would rank this book 4 out of 5 stars.This book contains 144 pages. I like this book because it talks about young people who fall in love and face obstacles in their relationship in order to be happy. This book is about a jock and Radcliffe music major, who first meet in a library. Later on in the story, but start to talk and fall in love and decide to get married. Unfortunately, Jenny is rushed to the hospital because she has cancer and Oliver is by her side. In the end, Jenny dies, and Oliver cries because he can¿t believe someone he truly loves is dead. I would recommend this book to people who fall in love with each other and need to face obstacles in order to be happy as a couple.
jinkay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can you say about a twenty-five year girl who died? That she was beautiful. And Brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me. loved this book. short, concise and utterly heartbreaking. i thought i'd end up mocking the story since i knew it would be some sort of cliched tearjerker - two people in love against all odds with the girl dying of an incurable disease. cliched or not, the story did make me cry (a lot), as i guess all great love stories tend to do.
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Love Story" is about a young, rich college jock attending Harvard University. He meets a pretty Radcliffe music student, Jenny, in the library one day, and develops a deep attraction for her despite her temper and continuous snide remarks - all aimed at him. The two fall in love, and after a rather boring and un-romantic proposal, they agree to get married. They live together happily, until it is discovered that Jenny's life is being threatened by cancer.The plot was not original or surprising, but it was put together well. It wasn't the love story contained in this book's pages that made me enjoy it so much - it was Segal's way of writing.His dry, lightly humorous style reminded me of Evelyn Waugh. I loved Oliver and Jenny's relationship - which is certainly not the usual star-crossed Hollywood romance. I really liked that about the book. Jenny was not described as some sort of goddess descended from heaven; she was simply an ordinary, pretty girl who worked in a library. Also, I loved the mock "romantic" scenes in which Jenny and Oliver's dialogue consists mainly of insults and jibes (most playful and even flirtatious, but some serious). Don't expect this book to really contain any romance - there is almost none. Yes, it is obvious that the characters care deeply for each other. But no one is swept off their feet. Even Oliver's proposal is the most un-romantic one that I have ever heard.But, I actually liked this aspect of the story. It allowed me to focus more on the characters, instead of on romantic sub-plots.I loved Jenny - main character Oliver's love interest. Though her lover is the one attending Harvard, she seems a level above him on the intelligence scale, and he is always losing battles and arguments with her because he can't keep up with her comebacks. She is snippy and sharp, but somehow likable.Oliver is one of those rich prep boys who has a roman numeral after his name. His father has entire buildings at Harvard named after him, and lives in a multi-million dollar home complete with servants who insist on calling Oliver "master." However, Oliver's attitude toward his elitist upbringing is that he never asked for it. An interesting side to his relationship with Jenny is that a part of why he loves her is that she is poor, and thus disapproved of by his family. She is an outlet for his rebellion.Oliver's father is a minor character, but I felt sympathetic for him even when our main character was not. I saw him as a strong, accomplished man who wanted the best for his son. His only flaw is that he more than a bit of a snob, and this has caused Oliver to become embittered against him.The characters in this book were well drawn and memorable, and I loved the dry humor and brief wording that Segal used.The only things that I did not enjoy about this book can be viewed as minor or colossal, depending on what type of book you wanted this one to be.First of all, (spoiler alert) Oliver does not seem very surprised when the doctor breaks to him the awful news: Jenny has cancer, and does not have very long to live. I would expect at least some amount of sorrow here. However, we only see Oliver feeling short of time. For example, he is desperate to take Jenny to fancy dinners and go out and do things, or give her a trip to Paris. But besides this, we are left in the dark as to what other feelings he is going through.Also, Oliver does not tell Jenny that she is sick for awhile. The exact reason for this is not given. How selfish! I was shocked by this, and liked Oliver a bit less for it.And lastly, I didn't feel as if Oliver and Jenny's relationship had seemed deep enough. Though there is not necessarily need for passionate exclamations of undying love and dramatic swooning, the two main characters here often seemed like mere best friends, or even brother and sister at times. I found myself thinking that they shouldn't have gotten married, because their relationship seemed to characterize an obsessive fling rather than a g
pinker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book moved me! This story has made me cry. It is easy for me to read. I want to watch this movie. If you read this book or this movie, I recommend you take a handkerchief.
HippieLunatic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I was able to pick up a book and read it in a day (not necessarily a lack of shorter novellas in my library, but a lack of peace in the household and the freedom to just read). Love Story by Erich Segal broke my streak of 3 weeks spans between book completions.Yes, it is a story of love, and I am a chick and cried at the end. But not only is it filled with pain, it is filled with a true sense of love that makes the pain that much more difficult to bear. Given that the opening line of the novel is a huge spoiler to the rest of the story, and that within the last 20 pages, it is obvious what the ending will entail. I still found myself completely wrapped up in Oliver and Jenny's love, their banter with one another, though.
labwriter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A 5-star rating from me because I go all sentimenal and teary just thinking about this book and my own first love, both in 1970. Erich Segal is an easy target for ridicule, but not from me.
Alera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book within about 2-3 hours. Which says both that it is that easy a read and it is that good. Somehow I¿ve gone through life without knowing well this story. Which is unusually sad and I bless the little old lady at the goodwill who told me I should read it for it would break my heart. It was excellent¿and she was right, it was heartbreaking. It is, simply, a love story. One you should therefore be forced to read.
zsarinah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
it was really a heartbreaking love's not the usual 'happy ending' type like in fairy tales but it was good. if you're a cry baby, better lock yourself in a private room so that no one can see you crying while reading it. :)
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
A classic love story of the 1960's. If you lived through the 1960's and 1970's you can appreciate the author's use of the language and situations of that time. A very short, fast read. The description by Barnes and Noble indicates 224 pages when in actuality, it's only 90-100 depending on your nook device. Still a great read and one that I go back to every few years.
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granddiva5 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book in paper form and I love it more in e-book form much easier to carry around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know it is a good book, may be old but a great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago