Oliver’s Story by Eric Segal

Review by Dr Sonal Kalia

They say Romeo & Juliet isn’t as romantic as grand mom & grand dad who met , shared their first kiss , married & lived a long life together. Their struggles & their love shining brightly through not just their lives but lives of their offspring too. Yet one turns to tragic romances with great bravado. Most doe eyed teenagers have read “love story” by Eric Segal and fallen in love with love- yes ! Love the most beautiful feeling in the world. Having read Love story twice as a 19 year old I couldn’t help but cry at the very end the first time I read it & even more so anticipating the end when I read it again.. From the core of my heart I felt if only better medicines could have saved Jenny. But that was the optimistic medical student thinking without having faced real life where countless love stories happen daily and people experience love yet have to lose it. “Love story” is the prequel to “Oliver’s Story”. Four years after having read the love story the Now pragmatic final year  medical student in her early twenties laid her eyes on Eric Segal’s sequel to love story. Looking at the cover of Oliver’s story , a dozen questions arose in my mind. What happens to people after they lose love ? Do they find love again ? Or do broken hearts build a wall around themselves ? Who climbs over those walls in Olivers life ? Does the new love get incessantly compared to the old love of their lives ? Can they forget the person who captured their heart beautifully once ? Is mature love different from young love ? I was so intrigued and bought it instantly.

 

Both books have movies based on it yet Olivers Story didn’t gain as much popularity. But I really matured reading this book. It told me how fragile the human heart is yet strong enough to deal with pain. It told me how vulnerable we can be yet grow stronger by those moments that open us up. It hinted at happiness being the ultimate treasure whether in someone’s company or someone’s memories. It reminded me of Alice in wonderland’s deep quote” how long is forever ? Sometimes just one second ?” Which is worth pondering upon. It reiterated that more than quantity quality of time spent together matters.

A part of me hoped that Oliver doesn’t forget his love for Jenny. Another part of me wished Oliver Barret IV to meet  someone & fall in love again. As Eric segal spins the yarn around Oliver’s job , family and his preoccupations in his personal time , your emotions reach exhilarating highs & Nadirs of note. Reading Oliver’s Story I realised that a person’s basic nature does not change though he may begin to see things differently with passage of time.

The story line brings back feelings of familiarity as one reads about the uniquely adamant Oliver Barrett IV’s life years after Jenny’s untimely demise but it isn’t full of déjà vu or just a recollection of moments of his life with Jenny. Albeit sans mobile phones, the plot is as gripping as the web of relationships modern adults deal with. Lot of my questions were answered and I smiled more than I did after reading love story so it is a book of maturity for me in some ways.

Personally, I loathe reviews that reveal the ending so I wouldn’t do that here but it would suffice to say that the end satisfied me as a reader. I cannot say it was a befitting ending or not but the intensity of the plot building towards the end didn’t wane off with a bad ending for sure.

 

Oliver Barrett IV found his true soulmate when hefell in love with Jenny Cavilleri. Their love had a ethereal quality about it though heartbreakingly brief, was it enough to last a lifetime ? This is the pertinent question Oliver’s story tries to answer. If you believe in love read both love story & Oliver’s story. A very Beautiful lesson in this captivating mix of mystery , sexual chemistry and antagonism “The explanations for the things we do in life are many and complex. Supposedly mature adults should live by logic, listen to their reason. Think things out before they act. For the little things in life we should, of course, react according to our reason.But for really big decisions, we should heed what our unconscious tells us.”

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