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One fateful summer two teenagers, Noah and Allie, find that they share the same world and fall in love. Noah's father has given him a life-long love of poetry which he shares with her. Allie has artistic skills and she shares her ambition with him that she wants to follow these skills wherever they take her.
Allie's parents don't approve of her relationship with Noah as he doesn't have the education, money or social position to be suitable for their daughter. They move away and there are no replies to Noah's many letters.
Roll forward 14 years and Noah has returned home after a gruelling war. He has never forgotten his first love and loses himself in poetry and the physical task of restoring a lovely antebellum mansion in New Bern. One of Allie's paintings has pride of place in the restored home but otherwise the beautifully restored house seems empty.
Allie's life seems perfect - she has followed her parents' wishes, given up her art and is now about to make a perfect marriage to a kind, hard-working, rich and ambitious man. Her world changes when she learns about Noah's restoration work in a newspaper. Three weeks before her society wedding she finds herself driving to New Bern to find Noah for reasons she herself does not fully understand. The unexpected reunion is very emotional and shows the writing skills that have made Sparks a best-selling author in this genre.
The closing chapters skip to a geriatric nursing home. They are well written but left me emotionally disturbed as I am already over my allotted time of "three score years and ten".