"A poignant melodrama"
Professor Nicholas Van Tassel knows he is a stuffy and
pedantic professor of Literature and Rhetoric, who is more
comfortable at Thrupp University instead of at Cambridge
thirty-five miles away. He surprises himself when he acts
the hero when the restaurant he is dining in bursts into
flames. He escapes and helps other people until he sees
Etna Bliss, with a small child in her arms, and falls
instantly in love.
He pursues her with a ferocity that won't take no for an
answer even though he sees that he is the one enamored, not
her. When she finally accepts his proposal she makes it
clear she doesn't love him but he doesn't care because he
needs her. They have two children over the years and
Professor Van Tassel is reasonably content until he finds
out that his wife used her inheritance to buy a place he
knew nothing about. He is so furious that he threatens
divorce and is shocked when she quickly agrees to the
idea. He does all in his power to convince her that she is
making a mistake, using some very underhanded methods to
get his point across.
ALL HE EVER WANTED was her love but he had to make do with
her tepid affections and at the first sign of trouble,
their marriage built on quicksand quickly sinks. The
protagonist is telling his tale in the first person
narrative on a train over thirty years since he married
Etna and he is analyzing the marriage, as if it was a
project. One can't help feel sorry for him, a basically
good person who had to settle for less than he wanted.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted March 15, 2003