All He Ever Wanted

All He Ever Wanted

by Anita Shreve (Author)


A man escaping from a hotel fire sees a woman standing beneath a tree. He approaches her and sets in motion a series of events that will change his life forever. Years later, travelling from New England to Florida by train, he reflects back on his obsession with this unknown and ultimately unknowable woman - his courtship of her, his marriage to her, and the unforgivable act that ripped their family apart. Spanning three decades from 1899 to 1933, All He Ever Wanted gives us a tale of marriage, betrayal and the search for redemption. It has the unmatched attention to details of character, place and emotion that have made Anita Shreve one of the world's best-loved and bestselling novelists.


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More Information

Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Edition: paperback / softback
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Published: 05 Jun 2003

ISBN 10: 0316861146
ISBN 13: 9780316861144

Media Reviews
*'A painful tale of obsession . . . impeccably done' SUNDAY TIMES 'Shreve is prolific, polished, unputdownable. Above all, she delivers serious topics with a readable touch' GUARDIAN 'Fluent and purposeful in its portrayal of the despair and claustrophobia seething beneath an ordered surface' SUNDAY TIMES 'Etna is a woman operating under rigorous and agonising self-discipline. Volcanic passions exist beneath her submissive facade' JOANNE HARRIS Anita Shrieve's bitter novel All He Ever Wanted is a fascinating demonstration of the theory that old stories give new stories the bones from which they derive their power. There is a sense in which this is a reverse Bluebeard narrative--the quietly monstrous narrator Van Tassel is obsessed with taking possession of all the secret rooms in the heart of the woman he loves and cannot understand why secrets might be a good thing. Van Tassel is one of the best characters Shrieve has created--a fussy, pedantic man with a real capacity for passion and some genuine grievances with life, but lacking in some crucial ingredients of his moral compass. His love for his wife, Etna, and with the petty politics of the college where he is teaching, turn him steadily rancid, and it is only within the framing narrative that an older Van Tassel seems to be approaching a capacity for redemption. Part of the strength of the book is that Shrieve has understood the beginnings of the 20th century, not merely in terms of the surface details, but in the permissions the ideas of the time give those with small amounts of domestic power to behave badly. In the end, though, Van Tassel loses almost everything--if there is a weakness here, it is that Shrieve is so optimistic that, out of his reach and knowledge, Etna finds a contentment that Van Tassel's narrative cannot show us.' Roz Kaveney, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW 'Anita Shreve's assured, subtle writing makes this more than a typical tale of Victorian marital oppression' TELEGRAPH
Author Bio
Anita Shreve is the author of nine other critically acclaimed and bestselling novels, all published in Abacus paperback.