Christiansen’s work is not a masterpiece, but it’s still a good book. Hugo Whittier is the kind of likeable and cynical misanthrope that we can often find in American novels. After wasting his youth after bad habits, he retreats to his family’s isolated and dilapidated mansion to live alone by an “Epicurean’s style”. He is afflicted with a rare disease: smoking is killing him. And yet, despising death like Epicure, he decides to smoke himself to death. Despite his determination and according to the best American fiction’s tradition, life – in form of relatives and indiscreet friends – seems to win over cupio dissolvi. Will love come too, in the end? A not-so-original work, but clever.