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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2003 Anita Shreve; (P)2003 Time Warner AudioBooks. A division of the AOL Time Warner Book Group.

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Meri Hayos
  • San Rafael, CA United States
  • 01-09-05

Why bother?

The only thing that kept me listening to this book was the narrator - he does a fine job. Other than that, the book is boring and nothing much happens. It's ok as a period piece, but doesn't dive deep enough into the minds of the characters to make it interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Peggie
  • Lansing, KS, United States
  • 07-23-03

Highly Recommended

Nicholas gets all he ever wanted but perhaps learns that sometimes what we want will not make us happy. A poignant but certainly not sappy love story. I really enjoyed this romantic story. The author's use of the English language,drawing images with words, adds a quality to this book far beyond many books written today.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Classic Shreve

This is a classic Shreve book. Everything is written in reverse and really doesn't make sense until the end. But it was enjoyable, if not realistic. Can anybody be that obsessed?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 11-19-11

Done With Shreve

I barely tolerated this book and almost didn't finish it (a rarity for me). I have not been enthralled with Anita Shreve but I keep trying. I think this book has covinced me to not bother further.

The story takes place in the late 1800's into the 1930's. The author criss crosses back and forth which makes it confusing and adds nothing to the importance of each traverse across time (he is writing the story on a train and gets interrupted so you hear about how the train was derailed...). There are numerous small details that prove of no value to the plot but only slow the story down further (the personal life of a minor character -- a friend -- from whom he borrows a car, no less how he hates to drive but does it anyway).

The narration is done well but the main character is such a "prig" it gets tedious listening to him.

If you like Shreve, go ahead. If you don't like Shreve, or have never read her, don't bother with tis one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A great listen

Anita Shreve is a favorite author of mine and this audiobook was not a disappointment. It took me a little while to get used to the reader, but as his character developed I realized he was absolutely perfect for the part. Throughout the book the characterization was flawless and the people and events were very realistic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Depressing

My relatively low rating of this book is strictly because I do not enjoy depressing tales. Is this well written? Of course it is. It is Anita Shreve after all. Why didn't I put it down and move on? I repeat, it is Anita Shreves work after all. All of that being said, my next lesson will be of an uplifting nature. Perhaps my next five will be also.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Ok storyNot exactly thrilling One-sided love story

I had just finished Stella Bain which I enjoyed very much. Wanting to read another by Shreve, the first b[k I looked at turned out to be this, the prequel! it was a good set up for Stella Bain but not nearly as interesting or intricate a plot.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

ouch

did I enjoy this book? no, I didn't.
is it a good book? strangely enough, yes.
the I-figure telling the tale of his marriage does not seek to please, but is as truthful as he is capable.
I could not help but dislike this pompous, possessive, petty, self-pitying man who did so much damage to those around him, all in the name of what he thinks is love.
However, there are many men like him - and I cannot help but admire the skill of Anita Shreve in bringing him to life. Even though I would not have minded never to have read his story.
Dennis Boutsikaris gives an able and lively performance in reading it.



  • Overall

Good but....

It is a period piece that took me a bit to "get into". I did enjoy this, but I got really annoyed with the number of times the the word "said" was used.

  • Overall

Intriguing

I liked this novel. At first it was slow and I found myself not paying attention. Then it picks up all of the sudden and I couldn’t stop listening. This is a story that happens in life more often than not – unfortunately. I liked being able to see it from both perspectives, it was well done. I had to go back and re-listen to pick up what I missed. I recommend it, but keep pushing through the beginning!