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All He Ever Wantedby Anita Shreve
"Enjoying a novel by Anita Shreve puts me in a similarly defensive mood....To the extent that that's a put-down, it's unfortunate because what's remarkable about her best work is the way she hovers so tantalizingly between serious history and syrupy romance — between the portrayal of making textiles in New Hampshire and heaving breasts in red satin. Both lines of inquiry are fascinating, of course, but no one manages to straddle them as successfully as Shreve. Admittedly, there are missteps now and then, but usually, as in her new novel, she gets it just right." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)
Synopses & Reviews
What is a woman's price? From the bestselling author of The Last Time They Met comes a brilliant new novel about love, jealousy, and loss.
Etna Bliss has just moved to the New England town where her uncle teaches college when her life is transformed in a single stroke. She is dining in a hotel downtown when a fire forces her to escape to the snowy streets outside. Amid the smoke and chaos of that night she is glimpsed, standing under a streetlight, by a man who was dining in the same room — a man who is so overwhelmed by the sight of her that he rebuilds his life around a single goal: to marry Etna Bliss.
That man is Nicholas Van Tassel, and All He Ever Wanted is his account of how two lives changed from that tumultuous night forward. A proud and orderly man, Van Tassel is ill equipped to deal with the ferocity of love. But he is determined to have Etna no matter what the cost. Riding a train south many years later, he unwinds his memories of the years that followed and struggles to understand the mystery his life became on that night.
This is no ordinary tale of obsession. All He Ever Wanted is a story about different kinds of love, different ideas of what love is, and how lives can be strained to breaking over those differences. It is a powerful exploration of the music and silences of family life, the unhinging forces of desire, the wrenching power of secrets unrevealed, and the bewildering territories of betrayal and loss. Written with the maturity, beauty, intelligence, and grace that are Anita Shreve's hallmarks, All He Ever Wanted is a story that powerfully conjures another time and place — peopled by unforgettable characters as real as the emotions that bring them together.
"[A] master at depicting passion's ferocious grip....Shreve is up to her old page-turning tricks." Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today
"Shreve daringly makes the bad guy her narrator in a creepy tale of relentless love....Full-bodied storytelling with an unflinching moral backbone: one of Shreve's best." Kirkus Reviews
"Boldly plotted and inventively told, Shreve's latest novel is further proof that she is a natural-born storyteller with a shrewd sense of how to shape her material to best appeal to the commercial market." Booklist
"Anita Shreve knows something about narrative momentum. Whether you line up at the library to reserve her latest novel or roll your eyes at the melodrama that heats up her pages, once they are turning you will not be bored." Washington Post
"A marriage is always two intersecting stories." This realization comes perhaps too late to the husband of Etna Bliss-a man whose obsession with his young wife begins at the moment of their first meeting, as he helps Etna and her companions escape from a fire in a hotel restaurant, and culminates in a marriage doomed by secrets and betrayal. Written with the intelligence and grace that are the hallmarks of Anita Shreve's bestselling novels, this gripping tale of desire, jealousy, and loss is peopled by unforgettable characters as real as the emotions that bring them together.
About the Author
Anita Shreve is the author of the novels The Pilot's Wife, The Weight of Water, Eden Close, Strange Fits of Passion, Where or When, and Resistance. She divides her time between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
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