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Literature / Endless Love

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The cover of the 1999 version

Endless Love is a 1979 romantic crime drama novel by Scott Spencer.

David Axelrod struggles with his love with Jade Butterfield after two very particular incidents, those events being burning Jade's house down and accidentally commiting a murder. From there on, he must deal with the consequences of his actions from there onwards.

The novel was adapted to film twice: A 1981 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, and a 2014 version directed by Shana Feste and starring Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer.


This novel contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Happens at one very particular moment half way into the novel. Jade's father, Hugh, runs toward David and gets hit by a car, and dies on impact.
  • Adaptational Heroism: David is turned into a Dogged Nice Guy by the 2014 film adaptation, and completely lacks the obsessive nature of his counterparts from the novel and 1981 film.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Hugh and Ann, Jade's parents, are this from the first moment we see them, where David talks about how nicely furnished their home is, and how they partake in certain counter-cultural aspects of the time period.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: David is this and admits as such but in a different way to usual - rather than murder somebody, he commits arson, he himself asking if he did it out of jealousy.
  • Direct Line to the Author: This is directly in play throughout all of the book, as we are only hearing David's account, and Spencer himself through subtext asks how much we can ever really be sure is truthful and how much is affected by his own emotions and biases.
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  • Foreshadowing: David's father overworking himself is mentioned earlier on, but comes into play much later in how it affects him.
  • Framing Device: The entire set of events is presented as David writing and talking about what happened, from the arson attack up to the very moment he started telling the story, the last part telling what he knows about Jade at the end.
  • Genre Shift: The 2014 film adaptation was a much more straightforward romance flick, eschewing the crime thriller elements of the original novel and (to an extent) the 1981 adaptation.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: This is Discussed by David, being mentioned that this is how David's parents like to think of themselves, with them both being left-wing lawyers working against 'the man' such as executives and corporate lawyers.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: This is suggested to be what causes David to start a fire in the first place - he's jealous of what Jade has, and how it's all now gone from him because he's no longer allowed in their house.
  • Impoverished Patrician: While still reasonably middle class and able to live well enough, there are suggestions that Ann and Hugh were both much more wealthy than they are when we first see them, and were able to at some points influence through their money.
  • Informed Attractiveness: A very particular point of the book is that we are never entirely sure of how attractive Jade is, but this is done very deliberately by Scott Spencer, asking us 'Why?' in regards to her.
  • Jerkass: Hugh Butterfield, in both movie versions. He receives a Heel–Face Turn in the 2014 adaptation.
  • Let the Past Burn: Rather than an ending trope, this happens at the start. David burns down Jade's home, and with it burns his own memories of what happened there. This is also the event that leads to him going into a psychiatric facility.
  • Limited Social Circle: David has a very limited social circle due to how his parents basically kept in touch with people who were socialist, eventually finding people who knew him who'd defend him in court.
  • Look Both Ways: What kills Hugh. He didn't look both ways. Just head on, aiming towards David.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: The 2014 film adaptation uses a slow, atmospheric cover of Robert Palmer's '80s smash "Addicted to Love," emphasizing the insanity of love.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: David never gets to say goodbye to his father, Arthur, due to Arthur dying of a heart attack while he's locked up.
  • Sarcastic Title: Despite its title, the book is more about David's long-term obsession with Jade than True Love.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Hugh in the 2014 film adaptation.
  • Stalker with a Crush: On being released from the psychiatric unit, the first thing David does is to find a way to get to Jade again.
  • There Are No Good Executives: This is Discussed by David, with him saying this is a belief held by his parents, due to their status in going against the rich as lawyers.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Keith Butterfield in the 1981 film spends quite a bit of time shirtless. He's played by a young James Spader, so it's not a bad thing.


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