The novel tells of "Love Story" is romantic and funny, yet a tragic story. It is the story of 2 young college grads, whose love was stronger than any of the tests life threw at them. Oliver Barrett IV, a Harvard jock and (very) rich heir to the Barrett fortune and legacy, and Jennifer Cavilleri, the quick-witted daughter of a Rhode Island baker. Oliver (Ollie) was expected to follow in his father's huge footsteps, while Jennifer (Jenny), a music major studying at Radcliffe College planned to study in Paris. From very different worlds, Oliver and Jenny immediately attracted and their love deepened. The story of Jenny and Ollie is a realistic story of two young people who come from two separate worlds and are joined together in the most unlikely of ways.
Upon graduation from college, the two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver's father, who thereupon severs all ties with his son. Without his father's financial support, the couple struggles to pay Oliver's way through Harvard Law School... with Jenny working as a private school teacher. Graduating third in his class, Oliver gets several job offers and takes up a position at a respectable New York law firm. Jenny promises to follow Oliver anywhere on the East Coast. The couple moves to New York City, excited to spend more time together... rather than in working and studying... as it was previously. With Oliver's new income, the pair of 24-year-olds decide to have a child. It is from then onwards, that there are several unexpected twists and turns. After Jenny fails to conceive, they consult a medical specialist, who after repeated tests, informs Oliver that Jenny is ill and will soon die. Oliver then tries again. While this is not stated explicitly, Jenny appears to be suffering from leukemia.
As instructed by his doctor, Oliver attempts to live a "normal life" without telling Jenny of her condition. Jenny nevertheless discovers her ailment after confronting her doctor about her recent illness. With their days together numbered, Jenny begins a costly cancer therapy, and Oliver soon becomes unable to afford the multiplying hospital expenses. Desperate, he seeks financial relief from his father. Instead of telling his father what the money is truly for, Oliver misleads him. From her hospital bed, Jenny speaks with her father about funeral arrangements, and then asks for Oliver. She tells him to avoid blaming himself, and asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. When Mr. Barrett realizes that Jenny is ill and that his son borrowed the money for her, he immediately sets out for New York. By the time he reaches the hospital, Jenny is dead. Mr. Barrett apologizes to his son, who replies with something Jenny had once told him: "Love means never having to say you're sorry"... before breaking down in his arms.