Wakefield was a mild-mannered man of no particular energy or imagination. The only fault his wife could find with him was that he had a tendency to be secretive about small things and perhaps a little selfish. Still, there was no hint that on the day he left for a short journey, his plan was to take a room in the next street and spy on his wife. He would not return for two decades.
How did his practical joke turn into an obsession? And why, after 20 years, did he suddenly choose to return?
Nathaniel Hawthorne describes Wakefield as spellbound by his own actions and warns, "It is perilous to make a chasm in human affections - not that they gape so long and wide but so quickly close again." The tale continues to enthrall: E. L. Doctorow modernized the story 150 years after Hawthorne wrote the original, and the movie Wakefield, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, will be released this year.