All He Ever Wanted

Version: Unabridged
Author: Anita Shreve
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Genres: Romance, Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Publisher: Time Warner Audio Books
Published In: April 2003
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours
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A man escaping from a hotel fire sees a woman standing beneath a tree. He approaches her and sets in motion a series of events that will change his life forever. Years later, traveling from New England to Florida by train, he reflects back on his obsession with this unknown and ultimately unknowable woman--his courtship of her, his marriage to her, and the unforgivable act that ripped their family apart. Spanning three decades from 1899 to 1933, ALL HE EVER WANTED gives us a tale of marriage, betrayal, and the search for redemption. It has the unmatched attention to details of character, place, and emotion that have made Anita Shreve one of America's best-loved and bestselling novelists.
- Shreve's last two novels, Sea Glass and The Last Time They Met, have sold 258,000 and 212,000 in hardcover, respectively. And paperback sales for The Last Time They Met have topped 600,000.
- Over 4.8 million copies of Shreve's Little, Brown books have been sold to date.
- The Weight of Water is now a feature film, to be released on November 1, 2002, and is sure to bring Shreve to an even broader audience.

Reviews (31)

Worth a Listen

Written by Anonymous from Brooklyn, NY on April 6th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book was very intersesting. The characters were very human and the author did not soften them or make them likable for the sake of a sale. Its something about being married for 15-16 years that allows one to appreciate the rawness this couple had and the need to be true to ones self. I found the wife selfish and the husband needy. The story is slow and I thought the book would go one way only to be surprised that it went into a totally different direction. I liked hearing the male perspective.

All He Ever Wanted

Written by Anonymous on March 5th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Interesting book. Written as a memoir of an English professor at a small New England college in the early 1900's. Very wordy and reflective of the formal style and prejudices of the time period. Thought provoking.


Written by Anonymous on April 22nd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I enjoyed the historical viewpoint. The book was an acceptable way to spend some time and I didn't fast forward just to find a 'good' part or find myself howling at the reader to get on with it. Always a good thing in an audio book.

Good stuff

Written by Commuter who listens on March 19th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Shreve does an excellent job of telling a story in the early 1900's. In this day and age, we cannot imagine what life was like during this period. Some readers have reported disliking the book because the main character was unlikeable. He wasn't supposed to be a hero, he was human and proud and wrapped up in who and what he and his family should be by the standards of the time. Far be it from us today to say we don't act as VanTassell did when confronted with wanting someone who doesn't want us back or being too ambitious or being selffish and not listenting to the needs of other, or not being satisfied with what we have. Think about it.

All he ever wanted

Written by Anonymous on March 14th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I love Anita Shreve! and this book was a good one.

All He Ever Wanted

Written by Tiffany Lucas on February 4th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This was a great book about reflection of one's life and how the decisions that we make truly effect everything in our lives. It makes you think about the what if's of your life and how things could have been so different. I thought it was a great book by Anita Shreve.

All He Ever Wanted

Written by Beverly Black from Philadelphia, PA on December 1st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I loved this writing. The narrator is not a likeable man in that he is pretentious and self absorbed but Shreve has done an excellent job of enabling the reader to see what is really going on even though the narrator, through whose eyes we see, cannot.

All He Ever Wanted

Written by Debra from Fairfield, CA on October 8th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

This book was very disappointing. The main character was not a person you could begin to like. Not nice at all!!!


Written by Sheryl Adamson on September 27th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5


"All He Ever Wanted"

Written by Susan Suplee on August 28th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Set in the early 1900's New England, the narrator looks back on his college teaching career and his obsessions with success in his marriage and promotions. Written in the voice of the era - gives a good account of how a family was dictated by the male and the confinment of the woman (wife). Takes a long time to get going and repetitive dialog.

Author Details

Author Details

Shreve, Anita

For many readers, the appeal of Anita Shreve’s novels is their ability to combine all of the escapist elements of a good beach read with the kind of thoughtful complexity not generally associated with romantic fiction. Shreve’s books are loaded with enough adultery, eroticism, and passion to make anyone keep flipping the pages, but the writer whom People magazine once dubbed a “master storyteller” is also concerned with the complexities of her characters’ motivations, relationships, and lives.

Shreve’s novels draw on her diverse experiences as a teacher and journalist: she began writing fiction while teaching high school, and was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975 for her story, “Past the Island, Drifting.” She then spent several years working as a journalist in Africa, and later returned to the States to raise her children. In the 1980s, she wrote about women’s issues, which resulted in two nonfiction books -- Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone -- before breaking into mainstream fiction with Eden Close in 1989.

This interest in women’s lives -- their struggles and success, families and friendships -- informs all of Shreve’s fiction. The combination of her journalist’s eye for detail and her literary ear for the telling turn of phrase mean that Shreve can spin a story that is dense, atmospheric, and believable. Shreve incorporates the pull of the sea -- the inexorable tides, the unpredictable surf -- into her characters’ lives the way Willa Cather worked the beauty and wildness of the Midwestern plains into her fiction. In Fortune’s Rocks and The Weight of Water, the sea becomes a character itself, evocative and ultimately consuming. In Sea Glass, Shreve takes the metaphor as far as she can, where characters are tested again and again, only to emerge stronger by surviving the ravages of life.

A domestic sensualist, Shreve makes use of the emblems of household life to a high degree, letting a home tell its stories just as much as its inhabitants do, and even recycling the same house through different books and periods of time, giving it a sort of palimpsest effect, in which old stories burn through the newer ones, creating a historical montage. "A house with any kind of age will have dozens of stories to tell," she says. "I suppose if a novelist could live long enough, one could base an entire oeuvre on the lives that weave in and out of an antique house."

Shreve’s work is sometimes categorized as “women’s fiction,” because of her focus on women’s sensibilties and plights. But her evocative and precise language and imagery take her beyond category fiction, and moderate the vein of sentimentality which threads through her books. Moreover, her kaleidoscopic view of history, her iron grip on the details and detritus of 19th-century life (which she sometimes intersperses with a 20th-century story), and her uncanny ability to replicate 19th-century dialogue without sounding fusty or fussy, make for novels that that are always absorbing and often riveting. If she has a flaw, it is that her imagery is sometimes too cinematic, but one can hardly fault her for that: after all, the call of Hollywood is surely as strong as the call of the sea for a writer as talented as Shreve.