Noah Calhoun is eighty years old when the story opens. He has been living in a nursing home for three years. The home is not far from his plantation house in New Bern. Noah is somewhat crippled by arthritis, which makes it hard for him to move. However, each day, he reads to some of the other residents to soothe their nerves and to inspire them.His favorite readings are poetry, a habit that he has formed over the years. Noah’s love of poetry was one of the reasons that Allie fell in love with him.
In his youth, Noah was a strong man physically and softly gentle man emotionally. He was not concerned with making a name for himself in his pursuits. He would rather sit on his front porch and either read Walt Whitman or play his guitar. He made enough money to live but was not driven to build up his bank account. He enjoyed the little pleasures in life, like canoeing down the river that ran along his property line.
Noah fell in love with Allie when he was eighteen. Though he dated other women over the years, his love of Allie was never matched. He did not consciously admit it, but he longed for her all the years she was not in his life. When Allie suddenly reappeared, he realized how much he had missed her. His love exploded inside of him, and he asked Allie to stay with him, even though she confessed that she was about to marry another man.
When the story returns to the present, in which Noah is an eighty-year-old man, readers learn how happy Noah once was living with Allie. Noah and Allie were about to celebrate their forty-ninth wedding anniversary.They were the parents of five children and several grandchildren. They had lived their lives together in the plantation house, where their love had been born. Noah had supported Allie’s dreams of becoming an artist. In his room at the nursing home were two of her paintings. He also kept photographs and letters that Allie had written to him down the years. When he missed her, he pulled these items out and stared at them, trying to quell his sadness. Allie’s not remembering who he was pained Noah significantly. When he looked at her, he could see that in her eyes, he was a stranger. In the more recent years, Noah shared only fleeting moments when Allie called him by name, remembering who he was.
Allison Nelson, whom Noah called Allie, was fifteen years old when she first met Noah. She fell in love with Noah’s gentle nature, his poetic dreams, and his awareness and love of the natural world around him.Allie was a budding...
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