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Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Angle of Repose (1971)

by Wallace Stegner

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,3991531,634 (4.27)470
Recently added bybooksaplenty1949, ckadams5, deesbooknook78, private library, GMcSo, Emporus, Romonko, bookworm12
  1. 21
    Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (quartzite)
    quartzite: The books both feature an elderly narrator looking back at family dynamics in the past and using those reminiscences to frame their own story. They also share beautiful use of language.
  2. 00
    The Eighth Day: A Novel by Thornton Wilder (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes
  3. 00
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (sturlington)
  4. 00
    Plainsong by Kent Haruf (sturlington)
  5. 11
    How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes
  6. 00
    A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote (The Huntington Library Classics) by Mary Hallock Foote (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: The novel Angle of Repose is based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote.
  7. 00
    Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (fountainoverflows)
  8. 00
    A Sudden Country: A Novel by Karen Fisher (amelielyle)
    amelielyle: Both are novels of the American West. Both are the story of intelligent women constrained by the role of 19th century wife and mother. Part of the pathos of each story is the dissolution of those marriages. Lyrical and image-provoking writing style.
  9. 00
    Penguin Book of the American West by David Lavender (Polaris-)

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Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
I wanted so badly to love this book. All of the reviews looked so positive, it won a Pulitzer prize and it was recommended to me by my GoodReads friends. I did love the first 3/4 of the book very much. The prose is lyrical and the characters are very realistic. It certainly gave me a look at mid to late 1800's in the western United States. But then I got to the last 1/4 of the book and it seemed rushed, unfinished, and I turned the last page not fully understanding what really happened between Oliver and Susan Ward. That is why it came down for me from a 4 1/2 to a 3. There are hints and suppositions, but no concrete facts and they are just left living in limbo. Nothing has been resolved except the utter defeat that they both felt after their numerous unsuccessful projects in the wild west. The narrator, disabled Lyman Ward, is unique and his voice leads us through the lives of his grandparents. I should point out that Lyman Ward is a fictional character. His voice connects the various places that Susan and Oliver lived in their long and storied life. The character of Susan Ward is based on a real person and on the life of memorable pioneer woman by the name of Mary Hallock Foote. I found that Stegner really did a phenomenal job of portraying her strengths, her vulnerabilities and her mistakes and missteps as a wealthy Eastern woman transported to the very rough and unfinished American west. I'm glad I read the book. So much of it was fascinating and real. Worth the large investment of time it takes to read it. ( )
  Romonko | Jun 18, 2019 |
We listened to this on tape on a long car trip. The reader, Mark Bramhall was wonderful. It was an exquisite book and I am still trembling. What a story and it was richer for having heard it beautifully read, and sharing that experience with Nick.

I liked the idea of discovering who we are through the stories of our grandparents whom we only faintly remember. Their stories shaped ours and listening to this book set me thinking carefully of the stories of my grandparents, and great grandparents, and how their lives have formed mine. I have been telling their stories in my head since - asking questions of the older cousins who are dying, looking for clues in old photographs, examining a diary written in 1923 and some love letter from the 1890s. All part of the puzzle of who we are and how we came to where we are now. Parents' stories: too close. Old material. But grandparents! What a focus.

I also liked the details of housekeeping in mining camps. My father was wildly enthusiastic about mines. We took him a couple of years ago, at his request, to the old Ruby mine in Okanagon. I love stories of the minutia of our lives. (Have decided that Sue Grafton, of the ABC murder stories, takes it too far.) And then, of course, this it the era when I came of age and I can feel all those old strictures start tightening. I remember watching 2001 in the past few years and being horrified at how sexist it was, but I never noticed in 1970. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
I'd hate to have to pick a favorite book, but if I were forced to this would be it. It's not an easy read but it's worth the effort. If you don't feel like tackling Angle check out any of his other books for a rewarding experience. Crossing to Safety is popular with book groups (shorter, easier) and it's another favorite of mine. Stegner is an exceptional author. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
A very long epic of the "frontier" west and a family of real, complex people. The overtones of "nice guy always finishes last" are bleak and sad. "Fate can be cruel" weeps from every page, lengthening the book. The author seems a bitter, self pitying soul. The writing is crisp, descriptive and evocative but oh, so sad. Of course there is an underlying hope, suggesting a wisdom from study, acceptance and objective, less judgmental, contemplation. The writing and insight of humanity made it a very worthy read, even though sadness pervades. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
I feel in no way capable of reviewing a work like this; happily many have gone before and written excellent reviews, so I don't have to. Here are my thoughts on reading it. I loved it. Not because it made me feel warm and fuzzy and comfortable; not because it made me laugh or appealed to my sense of justice. It did none of those things. It was a difficult story full of difficult people. But they were real. The struggles were real. The places and times were real. It was a book about learning to cope and be content with what is, even when life has handed you a plateful of disappointment.

Now I've said all that and not a word about the prose. Stegner is a joy to read, plain and simple. There are not many authors who could engage me in such a difficult struggle for so long, but he is one of them. I loved this book. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Jan 29, 2019 |
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Now I believe they will leave me alone.
When frontier historians theorize about the uprooted, the lawless, the purseless, and the socially cut-off who settled the West, they are not talking about people like my grandmother. So much that was cherished and loved, women like her had to give up; and the more they gave it up, the more they carried it helplessly with them. It was a process like ionization: what was subtracted from one pole was added to the other. For that sort of pioneer, the West was not a new country being created, but an old one being reproduced...
...the “angle of repose,” which means the angle at which dirt and pebbles stop rolling.
What interests me in all these papers is not Susan Burling Ward the novelist and illustrator, and not Oliver Ward the engineer, and not the West they spent their lives in. What really interests me is how two such unlike particles clung together, and under what strains, rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where I knew them. That’s where the interest is. That's where the meaning will be if I find any.
Remember the one who wanted to know where you learned to handle so casually a technical term like “angle of repose”. I suppose you replied, “By living with an engineer,” but you were too alert to the figurative possibilities of words not to see the phrase as descriptive of human as well as detrital rest. As you said, it was too good for mere dirt; you tried to apply it to your own wandering and uneasy life. ... I wonder if you ever reached it. There was a time up there in Idaho when everything was wrong; your husband's career, your marriage, your sense of yourself, your confidence, all came unglued together. Did you come down out of that into some restful 30 degree angle and live happily ever after? … We shared this house all the years of my childhood, and a good many summers afterward. Was the quiet I always felt in you really repose?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014016930X, Paperback)

Wallace Stegner's Pultizer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery—personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Stegner's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the story of four generations in the life of an American family. A wheelchair-bound retired historian embarks on a monumental quest: to come to know his grandparents, now long dead. The unfolding drama of the story of the American West sets the tone for Stegner's masterpiece. Four generations in the life of an American family are chronicled as retired historian Lyman Ward, confined to a wheelchair, decides to write his grandparent's history. The Pulitzer Prize-winning classic has been selected by the board of the Modern Library as one of the best hundred novels of the 20th century.… (more)

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