Sparks's debut is a contender in the Robert Waller book-sweeps for most shamelessly sentimental love story, with honorable mention for highest octane schmaltz throughout an extended narrative. New Bern is the Carolina town where local boy Noah Calhoun and visitor Allison Nelson fall in love, in 1932, when Noah is 17 and Allie 15 (""as he . . . met those striking emerald eyes, he knew . . . she was the one he could spend the rest of his life looking for but never find again""). Allie's socially prominent mom, however, sees their Romeo-and-Juliet affair differently, intercepting Noah's heartrendingly poetic love-letters, while Allie, sure he doesn't love her, never even sends hers. Love is forever, though, and in 1946 Allie sees a piece in the paper about Noah (he's back home after WW II, still alone, living in a 200-year-old house in the country) and drives down to see him, telling the socially prominent lawyer she's engaged to that she's gone looking for antiques ("" 'And here it will end, one way or the other,' she whispered""). And together again the lovers come indeed, during a thunderstorm, before a crackling fire, leaving the poetic Noah to reflect that ""to him, the evening would be remembered as one of the most special times he had ever had."" So, will Allie marry her lawyer? Will Noah live out his life alone, rocking on his porch, paddling up the creek, ""playing his guitar for beavers and geese and wild blue herons""? Suffice it to say that love will go on, somehow, for 140 more pages, readers will find out what the title means and may or may not agree with Allie, of Noah: ""You are the most forgiving and peaceful man I know. God is with you, He must be, for you are the closest thing to an angel that I've ever met."" An epic of treacle, an ocean of tears, made possible by a perfect, ideal, unalloyed absence of humor. Destined, positively, for success.