Introduction

It may be considered ironic that the year in which Nicholas Sparks’ third novel is set and described with such nostalgia actually preceded the author’s birth by nearly a decade. Born on the last day of 1965, Sparks was a child of the revolutionary ’60s and ’70s—not of the ’50s. Unlike his main character, Landon Worth, Sparks had no firsthand account of life in 1950s Beaufort. Moreover, he was not raised a Baptist like Landon, but rather as a Roman Catholic.

Yet Sparks’ A Walk to Remember is a personal story. Set in small-town America in the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, it tells the story of wholesome young love framed by ideas of faith, loyalty, duty, death and redemption. While Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, he first settled in the Carolinas after being transferred there during his stint as a pharmaceuticals salesman in 1993. His younger sister died seven years later at the age of 33, and her story and the story of the man who married her served (in conjunction with Sparks’ new setting) as the inspiration for the novel.

Sparks penned the novel as a commemoration of both his sister and the man she married. The connection between the two, a connection of pure love (along with sacrifice, tenderness, appreciation, and charity), is what may be said to have prompted Sparks to set the novel in the nostalgic era of the 1950s, when such themes could resonate more clearly, more forcefully, and more naturally. Indeed, the era Sparks describes helps to frame the ideals that inspired Sparks to tell the story and root them in a way of life. Even though the inspiration for the tale came from events that occurred more closely in time to the present day, those events returned Sparks to an age when such ideals were viewed as essential aspects of living.

A Walk to Remember is written in a simple and direct style, one that could easily be called clichéd if it were not covered by its apparent innocence and lack of guile. The novel is candid about its objectives: It is a work of...

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