This is kind of an odd book. It is the fictional “memoir” of Nicholas Van Tassel, a professor at a small New England college in the late 1800’s. who falls desperately in love with a woman with a past. In spite of the fact that she admittedly does not love him, he insists on marrying her and believes that he will convince her that she can be happy. With each step that he takes to bring them closer, he repels her until the final, fatal act of desperation has a final, if not fatal result.
There is definitely a suspenseful air about the book. The reader is compelled by almost the same drive as the need to see the details of a horrible car accident — you know it will be awful and you’ll regret it, but you have to see it anyway. So, too, you have to find out exactly to what depths Nicholas will go. And the depths are somewhat shocking.
I think an essential element to a serious book is, ironically, humor. The best books that I’ve read have combined sharp, witty humor with a serious plot. Characters that are funny and warm are more captivating and engaging. Strict seriousness is, in my mind, just serious and frankly, boring. This is a book that could have benefitted from an infusion of humor, to really keep the reader connected.
Basically, the idea is interesting but not fully delivered.