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Angle of Repose | [Wallace Stegner]

Angle of Repose

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, and husbands and wives.
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1971, Angle of Repose has also been selected by the editorial board of the Modern Library as one of the hundred best novels of the 20th century.

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, and husbands and wives. Like other great quests in literature, Lyman Ward's investigation leads him deep into the dark shadows of his own life. The result is a deeply moving novel that, through the prism of one family, illuminates the American present against the fascinating background of its past.

Set in many parts of the West, Angle of Repose is a story of discovery - personal, historical, and geographical - that endures as Wallace Stegner's masterwork: an illumination of yesterday's reality that speaks to today's.

©1971 Wallace Stegner; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Brilliant....Two stories, past and present, merge to produce what important fiction must: a sense of the enhancement of life." (Los Angeles Times)
"Masterful...Reading it is an experience to be treasured." (Boston Globe)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (488 )
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4.2 (337 )
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4.3 (335 )
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Performance
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  •  
    HDJ 10-24-12
    HDJ 10-24-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Epic!"

    Angle of Repose presents an authentic picture of the western frontier told with the tenderness and visual poetry that I'm learning are Stegner's hallmarks. He can make you live history. You can smell it, taste it and feel it. At the end of this novel, I was left feeling I actually knew the people and places and can remember them. The icing on the cake was the perfect narration by Mark Bramhall.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Drizzella MO 07-25-12

    drizzella

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Masterful writing; a great adventure"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys literary fiction. Stegner's language is vivid, startling, and inspiring. His story of a woman's experience in the American West as the nation changed from 1860s to 1890s is riveting. It's not the West of cowboys and Indians, but the scarcely frontier where mining corporations are trying to stake a claim. His commentary on life in the 1970s is also intriguing. Excellent work.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Stegner's language is the work of a master writer and storyteller.


    What does Mark Bramhall bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Bramhall's reading is the one problem I have with the story. He has to do a number of voices as well as narrate and his narrator voice is spot-on. It captures the character well. His female voices are disappointing and especially for Susan, the main character. His vocal interpretation suggests a weak, overly feminine, and submissive woman, while she is far from that. I would have preferred a stronger, less caricatured portray.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wouldn't suggest it; it's long! But I definitely wanted to know what would happen next.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeline Butler 05-07-12
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    "A rich story, beautifully read"

    A rich and beautiful book about a marriage, motherhood, and friendship. While the story takes place years ago, there is still so much to relate to today. Not a happy story, but a realistic one. I still am surprised this was written by a man.. his perspective is amazing.The reader was fantastic.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna H. Barnes BRENTWOOD, CA, United States 01-02-13
    Donna H. Barnes BRENTWOOD, CA, United States 01-02-13 Member Since 2012

    Telecommuter living outside of San Francisco, CA. I listen to books while walking my dog, quilting, and doing chores around the house.

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    "A "new author""

    This was the first Stegner book I read and it was a great introduction. Great story brought to life by the talented Mark Bramhall. A classic!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Tehachapi, CA, United States 08-30-13
    Barbara Tehachapi, CA, United States 08-30-13 Member Since 2011
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    "So Good"
    Any additional comments?

    I loved this audiobook! Interesting, with some really insightful observations made by the main character. Highly recommend. The visual would probably be PG except for two places probably rated R if that's a problem for you. I thought it was sooooooo good!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn Elmira, OR, United States 07-06-13
    Marilyn Elmira, OR, United States 07-06-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Bramhall is Stegner!"
    Where does Angle of Repose rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a wonderful reading. Mark Bramhall sounds just like Wallace Stegner. It's like having that wonderful man right beside me.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thepoet Sherman Oaks, CA United States 04-03-13
    thepoet Sherman Oaks, CA United States 04-03-13 Member Since 2011

    chewyluka

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    "One of the Great American Novels"

    The Story:
    A wheelchair bound grandson assembles the notes & letters of his grandmother to piece together her family's travels into the west in the 1800's.

    If you thought Steinbeck held a monopoly on classic California historical fiction, you haven't listend (read) to this masterpiece. Without exception, Stegner's writing in this novel is taut & unquestionably beautiful, what this man can do in a line will fill your imagination. His weaving of the early West and this family's struggles, successes, and failures creates the most realized version of the period to date. His characters, flawed, opinionated, frustrating, forgiving, & funny leap out of the earbuds (off the page) becoming people you've known, people you care deeply about. His phrasing drives this tale with a truly human bend to every action, line of dialogue and motivation. This isn't my normal go to book and was extremely happy for the recommendation. This is a book that earned every bit of the Pulitzer that it won.

    The Narrator:
    Mark Bramhall tackles this book with the dedication of someone who deeply understands the beauty, depth, and life within this book. Leading with the story's narrator, there was little doubt that he could handle this character with the tone, timber and age in his voice. It's with the female voices that he lends the passion and sympathy that really surprised me. A narrator can make or break a book, consider me a huge fan.

    The Sum:
    I was recommended this book and accepted it without knowing a single thing about it. The breadth of this story, characters, time & place left me with a renewed hope in what this format is capable of. I was excited to move back into this world with each listen, as each chapter unfolded. Give this book a chance, it will surprise you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David E. Gregson San Diego, CA USA 12-31-12
    David E. Gregson San Diego, CA USA 12-31-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Much touches the heart; much is problematic"
    Any additional comments?

    I very much wanted to like this book for several reasons: (1) I heard Andrew Imbrie's operatic treatment of the story during San Francisco Opera's "Spring Opera" season in 1976; (2) the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus has named their current 2011-2012 season "Angle of Repose" as a tribute to the author, Wallace Stegner; (3) it gets very good ratings in surveys of the best American books and is, in fact, #83 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list. It even received a Pulitzer Prize.

    Stegner is undeniably a fine prose stylist and the way he chooses to tell his story is rather complex and interesting, although this very narrative complexity undermined my willing suspension of disbelief. Everything is filtered through the imagination of a grouchy, socially reactionary scholar (who may or may not be a projection of Stegner) named Lyman Ward, who at age 60 is doing research on his grandmother, Susan, the long-suffering wife of a brave but congenital failure for whom nothing goes right in the wilds of California, Idaho, Colorado and Mexico in the late 1800's. Stegner has controversially "lifted" the actual letters of Mary Hallock Foote, the only authentic voice in the book. Her correspondence, quoted verbatim I am told, constitutes 10% of Stegner's finished novel. But then Lyman lets us know that he is inventing virtually everything else he tells us about his grandmother and grandfather, which for me, at least, creates an alienation effect I cannot quite overcome. The final dream sequence of the book is, I imagine, a metaphor for the whole thing. Interested readers are left to puzzle together how Lyman relates his broken marriage to the lasting bond of his grandparents.

    I am especially interested in books that deal with women's issues and experiences, so I was moved by Susan's (Mary's) letters and the general tale of her fortitude raising a family and dealing with her husband in an environment so unlike that to which she would have liked to have been and could have been accustomed in the American East. The story itself, however, seems overly drawn out for the number of truly significant incidents that occur in it. The narrator, Lyman Ward, also lacked appeal for me, perhaps because I was a member of that very UC Berkeley generation he so continually disapproves of. A contrast between the current times and the past favor the heroism of the latter.

    I was frequently extremely irritated by the reader, Mark Bramhall, who would be just fine if he did not adopt an absurd, breathy falsetto when reading Susan's words. She sounds more like a whining child than a mature woman. Oliver Ward comes off as sounding unpleasantly growly. But, my hat's off to these Audiobook readers; and I cannot imagine the challenges of reciting this long book out loud.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 11-19-12
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2007
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    "A Truly Visionary Work"
    Would you listen to Angle of Repose again? Why?

    I would definitely listen to the book again. There are so many levels on which the book can be viewed. The story is so engaging. I think that the fact that much of it was based on the life of real people adds to the appeal of the book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Angle of Repose?

    I won't give it away but the book has a terrifically interesting ending that will keep you guessing.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Bramhall – was your favorite?

    I particularly liked how he read the character of Lyman Ward, the main narrator of the story.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found myself not wanting to stop in certain sections. However, it would be far too long of a book to finish all at once.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bookmarque 04-17-12
    Bookmarque 04-17-12 Member Since 2007

    ksx2

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Heroes in need of worshipping"

    What else can be said about a novel that has gotten so much praise and attention? Deservedly for this Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Particularly I like the tone Stegner sets up. Lyman is not trying to 'translate' his grandmother, he is trying to discover her, faults and all. Despite her duality, I liked Susan Ward and would have been proud to know her. The intimacy and delicacy of her marriage was laid as bare as Lyman could make it and I liked the veils he drew across some scenes and the details he filled in for others. The letters were worked in with good timing although I would have liked to see Augusta's side of the correspondence. What a transcendental relationship that was in a way. Reading just this one book will make me seek out more of Stegner's work. Narrator Mark Bramhall's dry, but nuanced delivery fit the tone of the writing and the pace of the story perfectly

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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