Forbidden desires. A mind in fragments. A shocking act of violence.
When Martin Darrow, the respected chaplain at Wharton public school, discovers that a new pupil is the son of his sadistic childhood abuser, he is tormented by a thirst for revenge. Buried passions begin to resurface as Martin confronts what fundamentalism has pressured him to deny. But God is hiding behind his cloud of unknowing.
Artist Nell Garwood, ingenuous and fatally warm-hearted, is too busy painting Martin’s portrait and trying for another baby to read the signs of an affair between her husband, Wharton teacher Alastair, and her best friend Juliet. Their intractable teenage daughter discovers the truth, but it is not until Juliet claims that her eleven-year-old son is Alastair’s child that Nell grasps the full extent of the betrayal. Can she forgive Alastair and Juliet? And should she?
Celebrated child psychiatrist Lewis Auerbach prides himself on his façade of detachment, cultivated as a guard against the pitfalls of his profession: the abuse of power and misplaced sexual attraction. Then Nell walks into his consulting room, and his belief in himself and his career falls away as he vacillates between the promises made to his wife, slowly being destroyed by schizophrenic illness, and what is surely a fleeting passion for Nell.
Epiphany and tragedy collide on a hot July night – and each of the three must reconsider who they are and what matters most of all.
With its vividly-drawn background of London’s art galleries, a traditional English public school and the embattled profession of psychiatry, All Desires Known
is a deeply satisfying novel. New author Tanya van Hasselt, whose writing has been compared to that of Alan Bennett, has an unerring eye for the tangle of comic and tragic threads in our lives.