The book starts by asking a lot of questions to which I do not know the answers, but I knew by their nature that reading further would not resolve them. The first chapter may be the most thought-provoking and introspective chapter of the book. Not only that, but its last sentence invoked tragedy. There may be nothing more likely to hold my interest against my will.
Unfortunately, after the first few chapters I was just not very excited about reading this book. I think it's because no one had ever told me, "Wow, I loved this book, you've GOT to read it, you won't regret it." I never realized before how important that was to me. But the chapters went by so quickly, and the book itself was so short, and five minutes later when I was half finished I had to keep going.
What unfolded was a tale of obsession told by the narrator, a man who suddenly realizes that, until now, he has never really lived. Of course, that's pretty much just a euphemism for having an affair. But, euphemism or not, with a strange detachment he allows this passion to sweep away everything else in his life. And, would you have ever guessed it? Damage is done.
I had trouble deciding whether this book was well-written. Sometimes it just seemed SO melodramatic, which almost made me think of VC Andrews, but I pushed that thought from my mind. It never descended into romance novel territory, and though there was certainly sex in the book (because what would an affair be without it?), it wasn't of the highly-detailed and embarrassing variety. The book had a certain timeless quality that didn't tie it down to a specific decade. It was not vapid, nor did it cause me to fear I was losing brain cells as I read.
On the contrary, the book invited interesting comparisions. Anna reminded me of Dominique Francon from The Fountainhead--not at all because of her physical description or her way of thinking, but because of her effortless control over men. The narrator could have been a cross between an older Paul Verdayne and a less squicky but no less single-minded Humbert Humbert.
My final reaction is rather similar to that of my previous read. It's not one of my Must Reads, nor was it a waste of time. Don't kill yourself trying to find a copy of this book, but if you happen to come across it and you'd like to stray from the beaten path when everyone and their mother is reading The Help or The Passage, you might give it a whirl.