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Angle of Repose (1971)

by Wallace Stegner

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8641651,693 (4.27)495
Wallace Stegner's uniquely American classic centers on Lyman Ward, a noted historian, who relates a fictionalized biography of his pioneer grandparents at a time when he has become estranged from his own family. Through a combination of research, memory, and exaggeration, Ward voices ideas concerning the relationship between history and the present, art and life, parents and children, husbands and wives. Like other great quests in literature, Lyman Ward's investigation leads him deep into the dark shadows of his own life.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, zhlei337, WmJDeMartini, Mgloege, LilyMKumpe, emrsalgado, wghezzi, wagnerkim
  1. 31
    Gilead 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.
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    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (sturlington)
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    How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (charlie68)
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  6. 00
    A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West by Mary Hallock Foote (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: The novel Angle of Repose is based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote.
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    Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (fountainoverflows)
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    A Sudden Country 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-)
1970s (258)
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Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
Found this review of mine under an old alias. LOL

Although I enjoyed it, this book took me forever to read. I liked that it jumped back and forth between Lyman's narration and the story of the book he was writing about his grandparents. It's a very meaty book. I hope Wallace Stegner's other books are like that. -- 2010 ( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
I got this from the library as an audiobook to help pass the time on my long commute to and from work. The author is incredible in his command and use of the language. It's the pacing of the plot that did this in for me. I was afraid that if I kept listening, I'd drift off to sleep and end up in a ditch. Maybe I'll try again with the print edition.
  CrimsonWurm | Apr 11, 2021 |
I don’t know, maybe it’s the pandemic...I don’t know, the premise intrigued me but the book just felt stodgy and humorless. I did love “Crossing to Safety” and “The Spectator Bird” but this one just seemed so overly self-aware all along. ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
Although I skimmed some of the descriptive detail I cannot give this anything but 5 stars. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
Wallace Stegner is one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with his writing and storytelling when I first read [b:The Spectator Bird|11045|The Spectator Bird|Wallace Stegner|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1385095780l/11045._SY75_.jpg|949595] and was amazed when I found I enjoyed a much longer novel, [b:The Big Rock Candy Mountain|10801|The Big Rock Candy Mountain|Wallace Stegner|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1389231736l/10801._SY75_.jpg|1105171], every bit as much. So it is fair to say that I have anticipated reading [b:Angle of Repose|292408|Angle of Repose|Wallace Stegner|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1329151576l/292408._SY75_.jpg|283706] as much as anything else and more than most. Of course, with that much anticipation you would almost expect some level of disappointment. There was none. The novel is majestic. As I worked my way into it, I felt no desire to rush the experience. I wanted to savor it. If I was tired, I put it aside willingly as I did not want to miss out on any of the experience. Ultimately, though, I did not enjoy it as much as the other two novels. The characters were just as rich in detail and layered in complexity. The story was simple, and yet worthy of every one of the 531 pages. I liked and respected Oliver Ward, and I respected and admired Susan Burling Ward, but I never felt as close to them, as if they were breathing the same air I breath, as I did with the other two novels. The story did not pull me along with the urgency that I might hope for. I thought the structure of the novel was wonderfully designed and beautifully executed. I very much appreciate when an author uses a structure that blends with and enhances the story; Wallace Stegner does that very well here.

It is an incredible story, well told, that I will be thinking about for a long time. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
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Dedication
For my son, Page
First words
Now I believe they will leave me alone.
Quotations
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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Wallace Stegner's uniquely American classic centers on Lyman Ward, a noted historian, who relates a fictionalized biography of his pioneer grandparents at a time when he has become estranged from his own family. Through a combination of research, memory, and exaggeration, Ward voices ideas concerning the relationship between history and the present, art and life, parents and children, husbands and wives. Like other great quests in literature, Lyman Ward's investigation leads him deep into the dark shadows of his own life.

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