Special editions reviewed

The Notebook 25th Anniversary EditionNicholas SparksLittle BrownReview: Lauren O’Connor-May

Publishers have rereleased the romance novel

The Notebook for its 25th anniversary this year.

When it was first released in 1996, it launched the romance writer career of author Nicholas Sparks.

It became the first of his eventual 15 romance bestsellers, eleven of which, including The Notebook, were adapted into films.

I enjoy a good romance film and The Notebook movie is a fun film to watch.

I don’t have the same enjoyment of modern romance novels but I liked The Notebook because it is different from other books in the genre.

It had a bit more substance, less fluff, and a lot of warmth as opposed to just sex and romance but it did have some of the annoying tropes of the genre, like the very sexist writing of the female lead.

Allie’s character was very blandly written, her movie version is far more interesting.

Within moments of her introduction in the book, the reader is already told what she looks like naked – before we even know her name.

Noah, the male lead, on the other hand, is so well introduced that by the end of the first chapter we know who his friends are, his history, his interests, his strengths, his sexual history, his financial situation and his feelings. Much later the reader is given clues as to what he looks like.

The movie differs from the book in that the key moments are changed, most notably the love scene in the derelict house, the separation, and the climactic reunion and the ending. The book, however, is more endearing, more heart-warming, soppier and a lot sexier, if you like that sort of thing.

This new 25th-anniversary edition includes a Q&A with Sparks about his inspiration for the book and its success, a mini-autobiography on the author, discussion questions (for book clubs I suppose) and a teaser chapter for Sparks’ newest book, The Return.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank RedemptionStephen KingHodder & StoughtonReview: Lauren O’Connor-May

Stephen King’s famous novella has been republished for the first time as a standalone book.

The novella, which was made into the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, was originally published in 1982 as part of a collection titled Different Seasons.

The short, engaging book tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a hopeful, inmate banker whose courage helps him to carve out a life for himself inside the prison which has a positive ripple effect on his fellow inmates too.

Andy’s strength, intelligence and inner calm make him an attractive anomaly inside the prison and it’s not long before he gets legend status.

However, not all the attention is positive and Andy has to fight some brutal battles, some of which nearly crush him. Andy’s patience and intelligence triumph in the end and he wins in a way that destroys those that had sought to destroy and control him.

His story is told by his fellow inmate and good friend, Red. Both men have been given life sentences for murder.

The book gives a harsher inside look at prison life than the movie does. It has a darker, edgier feel to it than the movie.

The film did harden some of the tamer parts of the

story, for dramatic effect, but it just doesn’t have

the same awkward, uncomfortable edginess as the novella.

This book is not for you if you have a soft stomach or enjoy rose-tinted stories but its length makes it a good diversion for long, socially-distanced queues.

● We received 29 entries in our book competition for

A Family Affair last week. The winner was Phiwokazi Qoza of Observatory.