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"The Notebook" Book Discussion and Cherry Coke Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.

the-notebook-book-discussion-and-recipe

Noah is an elderly man in a nursing home, his hands crippled by arthritis, who still every morning picks up a notebook, and carries it to his wife’s room, where he will tell her their story, hoping her Alzheimer’s won’t stop her from remembering them, even just for a little while. He makes this slow, patient journey daily, pretending to be the mysterious Duke, and waits to see her reaction, hoping for another miracle. The doctors say it is impossible, yet sometimes she remembers, for who could forget such a story?

Noah and Allie met as teenagers in the summer of 1932. She came from a world of wealth and class and Southern privilege. He was poor, a poet, and he taught her to embrace her artist's heart and pursue the things she loved. They went dancing, to the carnival, the movies, everywhere they could. And when the summer ended, Allie’s mother hoped their romance would as well, and she did all she could to make that happen. But a week before Allie’s wedding to a wealthy southern lawyer named Lon, Allie goes back to the house that Noah had promised to one day restore. And all of their memories await them, as does the love they spent their lives denying.

The Notebook is a classic, powerful love story about the persistence of hope, the pursuit of love, and the presence of miracles across a lifetime and even in one’s twilight days.

Perfect for fans of

  • Nicholas Sparks
  • romantic dramas
  • romantic tragedies
  • This is Us tv show
  • the movie The Notebook
  • great, powerful love stories
  • Early 21st century fiction
  • Tear-jerkers
  • Contemporary romance
  • Southern American fiction (the Carolinas)

Discussion Questions

  1. Why was poetry such a large part of Noah’s life?
  2. How were Noah and especially Allie’s lives “dictated by who we are rather than what we want”? How did that change?
  3. What was the difference between Allie’s parents not liking Noah and thinking he didn’t deserve her? What made them think that way?
  4. Allie thought that “poetry wasn’t written to be analyzed; it was meant to inspire without reason, to touch without understanding.” But, how can analyzing and understanding poetry help deepen our appreciation for it? Can it go too far though, sometimes?
  5. Even though she was with Lon, why had Allie gotten angry when her mother once brought up Noah and called their love “puppy love”? Why did remembering this send up warning flares in Lon’s mind?
  6. Allie confessed that Noah seemed to savor life more fully than others appeared to, and that was what first attracted her to him. What were some of the ways that he savored life differently than others?
  7. How did Noah appreciate Ally’s paintings? Why didn’t Lon understand them or encourage her to continue?
  8. How did Allie’s mother, Anne Nelson, know right where to find her?
  9. How and why was Allie living her life for other people?
  10. When did Allie made up her mind about whom to marry?
  11. What were Noah’s and Allie’s physical states? How did they starkly contrast the characters who played them in the movie?
  12. How were they like dusk, “always together, yet forever apart”?
  13. Why does it take some people a lifetime to learn to sit and watch the world around us? Why is it often the elderly who do this, but not the young? Does it take being comfortable with someone to sit and be silent with them?
  14. What were some of the limits Noah put on himself to keep from hurting Allie, even accidentally, in her new condition?
  15. What did Allie promise in her letter to Noah? Why did he read the notebook to her?

The Recipe

Sarah, Allie’s friend, suggested that she and Fin get some cherry cokes on their double date with Allie and Noah at the festival.

Cherry Coke Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Coke Frosting

the-notebook-book-discussion-and-recipe

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Cherry Coke
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons cherry juice, (can be from jar of pitted cherries)
  • 10 dark pitted cherries, chopped (fresh or jarred)

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cherry juice, (can be from jar of pitted cherries)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Cherry Coke
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk or meringue powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 10 dark pitted cherries, chopped very small

Cherry Coke Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Coke Frosting

the-notebook-book-discussion-and-recipe

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 330° F. Combine the oil with the brown sugar in a mixing bowl on medium-low speed for about one minute. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
  2. To the sugar, add the sour cream, the three tablespoons of cherry juice, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then the eggs, one at a time. Drop the speed to low and add the flour mixture in thirds, very slowly. Add the cup of Cherry Coke and mix until combined, then add in the cherries. Scoop into paper-lined muffin tins and bake for 20-22 minutes.
  3. For the frosting, cream the butter in a clean bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until whipped and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Drop the speed to low and carefully add 2 cups of powdered sugar, followed by the remaining teaspoon of vanilla, the two tablespoons of Cherry Coke, the cornstarch, meringue powder (or powdered milk), and the teaspoon of cherry juice. When those are combined, add the last of the powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the insides of the bowl if needed. Finally, add the chopped cherries and mix on low or by hand with a sturdy spatula, only until cherries are mixed in. Do not overmix or the frosting will become runny. Pipe using an XL round tip onto cupcakes that have been cooled at least 20 minutes. Makes about 16 cupcakes.

Cherry Coke Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Coke Frosting

the-notebook-book-discussion-and-recipe

Rate the Recipe

Recommended Reading

Other books by Nicholas Sparks about young, first love are A Walk to Remember, Dear John, The Best of Me, and The Last Song. And Then You Loved Me by Inglath Cooper also contains similar themes.

More books by Nicholas Sparks about love, trying times, and hard choices are Every Breath, See Me, Nights in Rodanthe, and Two by Two.

Another wonderful story about love conquering impossible physical ailments is The Vow by Kim Carpenter.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is another wonderful, tragic, teen love story and bestseller.

Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin is also about reunited first lovers.

Poets mentioned within this book are Whitman, Thomas, Tennyson, and Browning, Eliot, Shakespeare, and King David of the Psalms. Most of the quotes by Walt Whitman are from his book Leaves of Grass.

Other tragic romantic American love stories are The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern.

Notable Quotes

“I am nothing special; of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”

“A person can get used to anything, if given enough time.”

“You have a talent that comes from inside you, from your heart, not from your fingers. What you have can’t ever go away… You’re an artist.”

“Poets often describe love as an emotion that we can’t control, one that overwhelms logic and common sense. That’s what it was like for me...it was clear that neither of us could control what was happening to us. We fell in love, despite our differences, and...something rare and beautiful was created.”

“You’re older...with more life behind you, but...you still read poetry and float on rivers. And you’ve still got a gentleness not even the war could take away.”

“The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected.”

“You are the answer to every prayer I’ve offered. You are a song, a dream, a whisper, and I don’t know how I could have lived without you for as long as I have.”

“You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.”

“I am secure in knowing that what we had was real, and I am happy we were able to come together for even a short period of time. And if, in some distant place in the future, we see each other in our new lives, I will smile at you with joy, and remember how we spent a summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love.”

“Silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking.”

“I am a midnight bandit, masked and fleeing on horseback from sleepy desert towns, charging into yellow moons with gold dust in my saddlebags. I am young and strong with passion in my heart...I am foolish, an old man in love, a dreamer...a sinner with many faults and a man who believes in magic.”

© 2019 Amanda Leitch

Comments

Danielle Popovits from Traverse City, MI on February 20, 2019:

I loved this book, and the movie! Great synopsis and I think the quotes you chose to highlight at the end are perfect. The cupcakes look delicious. What a great idea to combine baking and reading!

Shawindi Silva from Sri lanka on February 19, 2019:

I like this book so much and the recipe looks yummy!!

Naude Lorenzo on February 18, 2019:

I love that book I read it several time, your recipe sounds delicious I can't wait to make it, thanks Amanda

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