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 the memories of the drama 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.
"Shreve is a master at depicting passion's ferocious grip...there's something addictive about her literary tales of lust and love." (USA Today)
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- Meri Hayos