Liz Culkin and Hugh Staynback experience love at first sight while students at Rutgers College in New Jersey, in 1948. Glorying in their first experience in romantic love, they are convinced that no power on earth could ever come between them. Of course, they are mistaken, as Hugh's commitment to his invalid mother coupled with his other family members' refusal to commit themselves to such an intrusion into their lives, leads to a truly heartbreaking separation of the lovers. This tale traces their lives, alternately, over a span of twenty years during which time they experience the good and the bad, with the latter, especially in Liz's case, being the dominant condition. As a high school principal she becomes entangled with a succession of men of power who resent her success in a male-dominated society and her fierce determination to stand by her principles regardless of the cost to herself. While she is surviving these twenty years, she often longs for the love and devotion she thought she had found in Hugh, who also experiences many difficult years, especially when he is exposed to the ravages of war in Korea. It is during those most difficult years when he frequently immerses himself in his memories of Liz and of the ecstatic love they once shared. Then, one day in 1972 Hugh decides that he must find Liz, and he launches his search in a most unorthodox manner, by reserving a banquet room in a facility in Hackensack, N.J., where he fully intends to be a groom at a wedding reception in the near future.