Book Reviews of All He Ever Wanted

All He Ever Wanted
All He Ever Wanted
Author: Anita Shreve
ISBN-13: 9780316782265
ISBN-10: 0316782262
Publication Date: 5/2003
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 188

3.2 stars, based on 188 ratings
Publisher: Little, Brown
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

90 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 83 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
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. 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. The man is Nicholas Van Tassel, and this is his account of how two lives were changed from that tumultuous night forward. It is a story of love, jealousy, obsession and loss. But it is no ordinary tale of obsession... it is a story about different kinds of love, and different ideas of what love is.

This is another well-written novel by Anita Shreve, with great character development. This would make a great book for a reading group discussion!
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 47 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Could not get into this book. I'm not familiar with the author but even beginning the first chapter was daunting and nothing seemed to endear me towards the characters. Her heavily descriptive style made me want to say 'yeah, so what?'
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 278 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
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. 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. The man is Nicholas Van Tassel, and this is his account of how two lives were changed from that tumultuous night forward. It is a story of love, jealousy, obsession and loss. But it is no ordinary tale of obsession... it is a story about different kinds of love, and different ideas of what love is.

This is another well-written novel by Anita Shreve, with great character development. This would make a great book for a reading group discussion!
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 351 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a unique tale with some very complex characters. As much as I wanted to feel sorry for the main character, I couldn't, because he knew what he was getting into when he married. The relationship between husband and wife was strange, and I always held out hope that something would happen to normalize it. At points the book became a little tedious, but all in all, it was memorable. This is definitely not a typical "happily ever after" book.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
SLow but interesting start, but once you're into the story it is addicting.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I'm a big fan of Anita Shreve's books, but for some reason this one didn't catch my fancy. I didn't get more than a chapter or two into it, though, so I may have missed out by not going further!
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 949 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The cover blurb says this is a novel about love that crosses over into obsession. I'll have to take their word for it, because I couldn't get through it. The Dickensian style and the incredibly unlikeable narrator made it just too dreary to be worth the effort.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on
Helpful Score: 2
As always with Shreve's books you do not know what direction the plot will go next. You have a sense of how it might end by the mood of the narator, but the details are presented so well you wont want to put it down until you find out what becomes of these characters. Not her best, but not bad.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Such as sad story about obsessive love.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 39 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I loved Wedding in December. Did not like this one at all. Very dark and cloying. So, I disagree that if you like Anita Shreve, you'll love this one. I didn't. I thought the main character was manipulative, controlling, and abusive. The story was difficult to follow.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A man's obsession with his young wife begins the moment they first meet--as he helps her escape from a hotel fire--and culminates in a marriage doomed by secrets and betrayal.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Anita Shreve's books are written about characters living at the turn of the century and are very reminiscent of Edith Wharton's books. The difference is that the plot turns tend to be a bit more to the taste of a modern reader. This is the third book I have read, and while good, I thought some of her others (Sea Glass, Fortune's Rocks, The Pilot's Wife) were better, it is still very good -- especially if you haven't read the others as comparison.

The story here is about a rather stodgy academic and the love of his life, and how in purusing her and in attempting to keep her in the relationship with him, he inadvertently destroys it. The characters are very well developed and the writing is lovely.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 116 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found this book to be boring and long winded. I did finish it only because I hate to not finish a book, but it didn't get any better.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 61 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I usually like Shreve but I felt this really was one of her more dull books and had trouble getting through it at all.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I'm a big fan of Anita Shreve and although I enjoyed this book, it wasn't one of my favorites. Etna Bliss's husband is obsessed with his young wife from the first time that he meets her when he helps her escape from a fire in a hotel restaurant.
But obsession is not love. To find out what happens to them in their marriage, read the book.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
About a man obsessed with his wife who does not love him. It was a little hard to get into, but once I did it held my interest.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Overall the book was kind of a let down. I kept expecting something more to happen. And it just didn't.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A tale of jealousy, loss, and desire.
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Helpful Score: 1
The story is set in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Nicholas is a very unlikeable character. This is a story of a man who will lie, twist facts, and manipulate anyone willing (but ignorant) to get what he wants. He manipulates Etna, who he met by chance during a hotel fire, into marriage, uses his daughter to destroy a perceived rival's reputation and ultimately destroys his marriage and his family. Etna's character speaks few words and she is often a mystery -- is she a victim of the times she lives in, unable to resolve her feelings over a lost love, or is she at times depressed? You're just never really quite sure. If you enjoy books set in this era, you'll probably enjoy this one as well. This book has the same writing style and similar heartbreak evident in Fortune's Rock.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting and well written...sure to grab the reader and hold on until the last page.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 262 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a story unlike any I've ever read. The "hero" of the story is not necessarily a likeable person, yet I was compelled to keep reading this intriguing account of the life of a man obsessed with a woman who didn't love him.
Leah G.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book!
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 24 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Posting this for my wife. She cannot get enough of Anita Shreve and this one holds up to the rest.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was honestly bored, I finished the book I liked the way it was written and the idea behind the way it was written the book however...was boring. :(
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was actually a very interesting book to read. It takes place in the early 1900s and it is a book about love and harsh times. Women did not make decisions for love, but men did. It was an interesting take of the times. It will twist your thoughts and shock you all the way into the end.
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Helpful Score: 1
If you love history and have known an unrequited love then this is the book for you. I still remember this book years after reading it.
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Helpful Score: 1
Did not like this book. For soome reason, could not get past the first chapter. I usually enjoy her books, but this one could not hold my interest.
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Found this book kind of slow, didn't grab me like "Sea Glass". Still a worthwhile read but not my favorite by Anita Shreve.
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I like this author. This is about a possesive husband and how his marriage is ruined by secrets and betrayals.
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I enjoyed reading it. It was dark at times, but overall the writing was really great. Not your typical Anita Shreve book though.
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Almost perfect audio book. The reader is top notch, period and ponderous and in perfect keeping with the subject matter.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 20 more book reviews
A fire in a N. H. hotel brings two people together for a lifelong passion. Years later, on a train to Florida, he recounts their courtship, etc. and the threads of the story begin to unravel, revealing a patchwork of secets, promises, and lies, and a man whose wife's love is all he ever wanted.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 15 more book reviews
I love all books by Anita - she has way of telling a story that won't allow me to put the book down. Good read!
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I found the eloquent narrative of this story really set the scene for me and actually made me feel as though I was with the characters. It's a bit of a slow read but well worth the time.
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I thought this was an interesting books. From what I've previously read of Anita Shreve, it was a little different than usual. It is written in the form of flashbacks and memories as the main character is on a train to his sister's funeral. It can be weird and ramble at times, but overall I liked this book.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 8 more book reviews
A story about an obsessed husband and an aloof wife. Told in a series of flashbacks by obsessed husband, who in the "present time" was around 70 years old. I wasn't thrilled with the characters, but I did enjoy the writing style. The heightened language may be off-putting to some, but it was very fitting for the time period in which it was set (early 1900s), and the occupation of the narrator (college English/Rhetoric professor).
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 17 more book reviews
Pretty good. Period piece and well told story. Kept my attention like all of Shreve's works. Not my favorite of her's but still a good read.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 13 more book reviews
Loved it!
The pilot's wife is my very favorite from Anita Shreve and this one is second!
It had me wondering and wanting to know what will happen next!
And although this book is from the husband's perspective....I totally agree with the wife!
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 17 more book reviews
Another interesting story written by this author. Enjoyed the time period and setting.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 25 more book reviews
This book was very interesting to read...I really can see how a marriage can go very wrong when two people have such different outlooks on their union and such deception can lead no where but trouble for all involved.
I felt it was worth reading and always enjoy this authors stories.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 4 more book reviews
This was not my favorite Anita Shreve book. It was dark and disturbing and although it may have been common behavior for men of that period, it made me happy to be alive now.
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Erna Bliss 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...........
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 49 more book reviews
Very slow start though I'm glad I stuck with it. Not one of Anita Shreve's best but still an entertaining read/listen.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on
This book left a bitter taste in my mouth after reading.... Maybe the intention by one of my favorite authors? Although there usually is heartbreak and hardship associated with most the characters in her novels, the main character in this book is ridiculous, ugly and just plain depressing. Can someone like this really exist? Even in those times? I can't imagine anyone being that stupid. Anyway, not worth reading. Sorry I used a good credit in requesting this book.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 57 more book reviews
Description:
Set in the late 19th century, Anita Shreve's novel begins when professor of English Nicholas Van Tassel meets and falls in love with Etna Bliss, whose prospects are dim. Nicholas offers her marriage, and, though she doesn't return his passion, she accepts. But Van Tassel is unable to accept his wife's lack of love for him, and over the years he stoops to a variety of despicable acts related not only to his doomed passion for Etna, but also to his unbridled ambition.

Word from the Publisher
Years after escaping from a hotel fire and encountering an elusive woman, whom he subsequently married and divorced, a man travels from New England to Florida by train, and reflects on his obession with this ultimately unknowable woman.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 92 more book reviews
Anita Schreve is up to her old page turning tricks...Theres something addictive about her literary tales of love and lust
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 8 more book reviews
Another good book from Anita Shreve. A vivid and discomfiting story about a man whose real passion for a woman turns to helpless, undying obsession during the early 1900's-San Diego Union-Tribune.
A tale that flirts with full-scale tragedy as well as the darkest kind of comedy-New York Times Book Review
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 52 more book reviews
All of my friends loved this book, but I found it a little hard to get through. Somewhat slow, in my opinion.
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Out of all of Anita Shreve's books, this one I just could not get into it. I enjoyed her other books more.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on
Etna Bliss has just moved to the New Hampshire town where her uncle is a college professor. In one single moment, her life is totally transformed: she is dining in a hotel downtown when a fire forces her outside into the snowy streets. Amid the smoke and chaos of that night she is glimpsed, standing under a street lamp, by a man who had been dining in the same room - a man who is so overwhelmed by the sight of her that he immediately rebuilds his life around a single goal: to marry Etna Bliss.

Nicholas Van Tassel is a proud and orderly man, ill equipped to deal with the ferocity of his love for Etna Bliss. But he is determined to have her, no matter what the cost. Riding a train south many years later, Nicholas reflects on the night of his first meeting with Etna, the drama that followed and struggles to comprehend the mystery his life became on that night.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end. There were times during my reading that I almost felt sorry for Nicholas Van Tassel, stalker-type tendencies and all. To my mind, he was so wrapped up in his 'love at first sight' mentality that he was completely blinded to how unhappy Etna truly was in her life with him. I give this book an A+! and look forward to reading my next Anita Shreve book.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 18 more book reviews
Excellent book, written in a third person, a lonely man that loved his wife too much and never would get the love returned. The story goes into human behavior that most of us would never think anyone capable of, but no one knows unless they have been in their shoes. Good story, Anita Shreve is so good, you'll love this one.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 7 more book reviews
I found it readable but not up to the standards I expect from Anita Shreve. Perhaps I just didn't care for the "telling" of the story by a rambling old man.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 5 more book reviews
A story about a man who meets a woman at a fire and must marry her. She is not as obsessed with him, but marries anyway. Good book - I read it fairly quickly, although I would say that other books by Shreve are more my taste.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 13 more book reviews
Very interesting portrayal of academic life at the turn of the 20th century and the tangled web one academician weaves by pursuing desire to the exclusion of reality. Written in old-style language, but reads quickly once the reader gets into the groove
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 60 more book reviews
Anita Shreve is just okay. I find them a little tedious to work through.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 10 more book reviews
This story is fantastic. Highly recommended.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 69 more book reviews
Very good! Shreve at her best!
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Extremely well written, but not exactly cheerful...
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Anita Shreve has become one of my new favorite authors. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Her writing is beautiful, very descriptive.
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Not as good as some of her other novels. but an interesting premise.
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Started slow, almost ponderous in a way, but then picked up in the middle, and was enjoyable to finish.
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Really good. Might be my favorite Anita Shreve novel yet.
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I did not like this as much as Pilot's Wife.
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He saves her from a hotel fire and becomes obsessed with her. But their marriage is doomed by secrets and betrayal. A gripping tale of desire, jealousy, and loss with unforgettable characters. One of Shreve's best.
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it's tough to put this one down
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This was an amazing book. I like the fact that you're reading it as if you were listening to the writer "himself".....good pic!
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A tale of "unrequited love", just engrossing...a man whose desire outweighs his reasoning...
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Wonderful novel that delves on love, obssession, marriage, and the lengths to which a man will go to keep the woman he loves.
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Good read overall but starts out a little slow.
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good read
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I generally am a big fan of Anita Shreve....this book just didn't do it for me! Found it to be boring....had to force my way thru it. Disappointing!
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Man, did I *hate* this book! It's not that it's not a good book, it is, I knew what Shreve was doing as I was reading it. But I didn't like reading it.

The protagonist, who tells the story in first person, is boorish, arrogant and a monster. Nicholas Van Tassel is an indifferent professor at a small New Hampshire college at the turn of the twentieth century who sees a woman during a hotel fire and cannot conceive of her not wanting him, only she never did, including after agreeing to marry him. He wants to possess her, he never attempts to know her, or understand her.
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A man whose obsession with his young wife begins at the moment of their first meeting, as he helps Etna and her aunt escape from a fire in a hotel restaurant, and culminates in a marriage doomed by secrets and betrayal.
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I thought that this book was so very boring. I had heard such great things about it, but it just wasnt for me at all.
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Beautifully written. Great plot. Good characters. Overall an excellent book. Couldn't put it down. Mesmerizing.
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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
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 14 more book reviews
Typically good Anita Shreeve.
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from Publisher's Weekly:
Escaping from a New Hampshire hotel fire at the turn of the 20th century, Prof. Nicholas Van Tassel catches sight of Etna Bliss and is instantly smitten. She does not reciprocate his feeling, for she has her own unrequited lust, for freedom and independence. That they marry guarantees tragedy.

Anita Shreve is a great contemporary writer who understands the human heart and its foibles.
reviewed All He Ever Wanted on + 5 more book reviews
Kind of runs along the same lines as "The Pilot's Wife" with two people who think they know each other marrying and not knowing each other at all. Set in the earlier part of the 20th century, it's a gripping tale of jealousy and what married people sometimes think they know.
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This is a page turner; if you like any of her other books, you'll probably like this one as well!
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Another great read by Anita Shreve!
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Kind of runs along the same lines as "The Pilot's Wife" with two people who think they know each other marrying and not knowing each other at all. Set in the earlier part of the 20th century, it's a gripping tale of jealousy and what married people sometimes think they know.
This story is fantastic. Highly recommended.
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A favorite Anita Shreve novel!
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On a three day train trip to attend his sisters funeral Professor Nicholas Van Tassel pens his memoir, covering his life from the first time he saw the woman who would later become his wife until her death, some 33 years later. All the trials and tribulations, anxiety, betrayals and unexpected events that Van Tassel experienced takes place in the early 1900's, in a college town of some considerable wealth.

This book was written from a mans perspective. Shreve did a good job of this, to the point of my forgetting who the author really was. The plot was pretty straight forward, without a lot of twists and turns, but a book that I found myself fully enveloped in. Written as a memoir, you often forget that and felt it was being lived in the moment. My only criticism is of Shreves writting style - of which I was fully aware before starting this book. Shreve tended to write run-on sentences - a magnitude of run-on sentences - taking 35 to 40 words to tell something she could have easily stated in 10 words or less. However with that said, the flow of the story and her writing style, never changing, allowed the novel to move along at a managaeble pace.
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From: Amazon.com
Anita Shreve's All He Ever Wanted reads like Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own told from the perspective of the husband. The wife gains a measure of freedom, but how does the repressive, abandoned husband feel about that freedom? Set in the early 1900s in the fictional New England college town of Thrupp, and narrated by the pompous Nicholas Van Tassel, All He Ever Wanted is at once an academic satire, a period novel, and a tale of suspense. Shreve's ability to nimbly hop through genres brings a liveliness to this story of love gone depressingly wrong. Van Tassel is an undistinguished professor of rhetoric at Thrupp College and a confirmed bachelor when he meets--in no less flamy a scenario than a hotel fire--the arresting Miss Etna Bliss. Immediately smitten, he woos and wins her. At least, he persuades her to become his wife. But Van Tassel hasn't really won her. Etna keeps her secrets and her feelings to herself. The extent of her withholding only becomes clear after a couple of kids and a decade or so of marriage. Then we find out that she's been creating a secret haven for herself all along. Van Tassel is in turn revealed--through his own priggish, puffed-up sentences--as something of a monster. The book is cleverly done; watching Etna through Van Tassel's eyes is like looking at beautiful bird from a hungry cat's point of view. But Van Tassel's voice might be too well written; he's pedantic and dull and snarky all at once, and by the end we find that we, like Etna, can't bear his company a minute longer. --Claire Dederer

Incredible book, incredible writer! Shreve at the best!
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A love story set in the early part of the century.
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its fascinating every chapter leaves u in suspense... you never want to put it down.... and in the end...who do u truly feel sorry for?


Read it...its GREAT!!
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Love this book - very funny and I could relate to her "problem"
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Good book!
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National Bestseller