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I found "All He Ever Wanted" one of the best novels I have read for many years.
Her skilful plot with its almost endless suspense is outstanding.
Her use of language reminds me of Iris Murdoch with touches of Poe , Hawthorne and Thomas Hardy thrown in for good measure.
I do not know of any living English novelist of comparable quality , although my daughter prefers Fay Weldon.
This is the second book by Anita Shreve I've read--The Pilot's Wife, the first. This was a very different read, but truly amazing! I couldn't put it down. I found it haunting and compelling. My emotions were on a roller coaster with my sympathy and then loathing for Nicholas. I have recommended this book to all my friends in our reading group.
I have just finished reading "All He Ever Wanted" by Anita Shreve. I have enjoyed several of her novels and feel that this one matches all of the others in the quality of the writing and the depiction of character and emotion. I too would like to read Etna's story and wonder whether Anita has considered writing a sequel? The writing is concise and the feelings evoked are almost painful at times in their focus and accuracy. I think "Eden Close" is still my favourite novel to date.
I look forward to Anita's next book!
It has a very dramatic opening that snags the reader, then it drags for about 100 pages, all of which is setup for a dramatic, page-turner ending. Once you start the last 100 pages, it is difficult to put down. In the end the reader is left with the most poignant of human dilemmas--our great need for intimacy and human connection, coupled with an inability to find such fulfillment.
This is my first time reading any of Anita Shreve's book, and this story isn't half bad. I liked how she held back her plot.
"Weight of Water," "Strange Fits of Passion," and "Where or When" are wonderful, uniquely brilliant. "All He Ever Wanted" is a major disappointment - a #3, just because Anita's a great and unusual writer. But as Pat said, Etna's story would have been far more interesting, or even Clara's story!
shirley r. ottenstein
I have just finished reading "All He Ever Wanted" and found the book rather disappointing. The theme has been done before, If you read "A Man of Property" by John Galsworthy and study the relationship between Soames and Irene, it is the same as between Van Tassel and Etna, two women who truly do not wish to wed the man that they do marry and how disappointing the relationships turn out. John Galsworthy does it better than Anita Shreve. "All He Ever Wanted" is well written and very easy to follow. I have rated this book "3" though it was disappointing, one does want to see what happens. Nicholas turns out to be a rather weak character and Anita a cold woman with secrets. You truly cannot like any of the characters.
A new approach for Shreve. Writing in the first person as a male from 100 years ago, she weaves the poignant life story of Professor Van Tassel and his love for Etna Bliss. Van Tassel is a stuffed shirt, a snob and a man consumed by his only real passion, Etna, and his position at Thrupp College. His love pushes him to the edge in a tale that explores human nature's darkest corners. This book reveals the depths of feeling that are in people who seem devoid of emotion.