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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 (561 )
5 star
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4.2 (401 )
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4.3 (397 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Cynthia Kennesaw, GA, United States 04-23-14
    Cynthia Kennesaw, GA, United States 04-23-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Delight, and a Surprise"

    Shame on the teachers who didn't expose me to this amazing marvel of a book and this gifted writer. Beautifully written, well performed, and more educational in terms of the early American West than anything I've read elsewhere. An under-appreciated American classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SDS Pennington, NJ USA 03-29-14
    SDS Pennington, NJ USA 03-29-14 Member Since 2007

    Diane

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    "Didn't Want It to End!!"

    This book is outstanding! So very sorry I did not read it before this, but so glad I found it. It is so well written and such a compelling story that I didn't want it to end. I know there was controversy about Stegner's use of the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, but the story he wove around those letters is remarkable.

    As a result of reading this I just purchased Crossing to Safety, another book by Wallace Stegner, and A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote. Can't wait to read them!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella Saskatoon, SK, Canada 04-16-13
    Ella Saskatoon, SK, Canada 04-16-13
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    "Enthralling story, wonderfully read"
    If you could sum up Angle of Repose in three words, what would they be?

    Summed up in the four words above.


    What does Mark Bramhall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Tone and pace and characterization of voices were all excellent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda J. Westerschulte 05-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"

    Many of my friends recommended this book and by rights I should have liked it: geology, some American history, a family saga.... but I found the author's effort to mix history with fiction tedious and forced. He had an annoying tendency to drop genuine historical figures and letters liberally into his tale I suppose that was meant to lend credibility but it all felt like cheating to me. I gave it about 4 hours and finally abandoned the effort. Also, I don't care for Mark Bramhall's narration. He reads too many of the lines as if they are meant to be sarcastic or bitter. It was hard to listen to that for even 4 hours, never mind trying the whole book.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia G. 04-21-12
    Marcia G. 04-21-12

    Em Gee

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, so-so performance"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a complex story, told in an interesting manner. I highly recommend it to anyone. The descriptions of place (and there are many fascinating places) are remarkably beautiful.

    The reader did a very poor job voicing the characters. The major female character has only one tone, a whine. All the male characters sound alike, humorless and cold. I'm not expecting a dramatization, in fact I hate it when readers get carried away, but this reader was way off the mark. I will avoid his work. Buy the book; the voices in your imagination will be far better than the recording. Don't think I'm cool about listening to books (I love them), but the reader should enhance, not diminish, the experience.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 07-14-12
    Robin 07-14-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not my area of interest"

    Maybe it's just that the American West doesn't particularly interest me as a subject, but I found this book very slow going. I got about halfway through and it seemed that all the action was taking place offstage. Maybe this is deliberate since the narrator is constructing his family's history from diaries and letters but it just didn't grab me. The narration was fine, nothing special.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jared Oceanside, CA, United States 04-14-13
    Jared Oceanside, CA, United States 04-14-13

    Oside Surfer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Painfully Boring!"
    What disappointed you about Angle of Repose?

    I kept waiting for something interesting to happen or to become engaged in the story or characters, and there was just nothing there.


    What was most disappointing about Wallace Stegner’s story?

    How slowly and uneventful the story unfolds.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narration of Susan was enough to turn my stomach. Maybe the narrator was capturing how the character was written, but hard to listen to.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Well I guess it gave me a deeper appreciation for good books and I will make sure I am more scrupulous in my purchase decisions.


    Any additional comments?

    Book is over rated.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Alden, MI, United States 04-30-12
    Michelle Alden, MI, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Blah!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The narrator did a decent job...the story was boring...I many times wanted to give up, and at the end wondered why I didn't give up.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure.


    What three words best describe Mark Bramhall’s performance?

    Good, nice voice.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boring.


    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne 11-03-13
    Jeanne 11-03-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tedious story"
    What disappointed you about Angle of Repose?

    I kept hoping something about this story would engage me through this 22+ hour book.. but nothing ever clicked. It came across as 22 hours of whining. Thank goodness Audible's iPhone app allowed me to listen in double time!


    What could Wallace Stegner have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I wish the author had acknowledged that this book was based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote - even admitting that entire sections of the book were lifted word-for-word from her letters. I am more willing to tolerate BORING from a non-fiction book that a book 'claiming' to be fiction. I will probably never read another book written by Stegner.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 12-06-12
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 12-06-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stegner, a gifted writer... but..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book was enjoyable on some levels due to its interplay between friends, parents and children, husbands and wives, the past and the future. I found I have not gotten to know the present-day historian as well as I'd like, and perhaps this is the conflict I see with this book.. it interweaves the two stories on a superficial level, but the past is the main focus, not the present.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Included less of the imaginations of what happened in the past, included more of the present day. With the 1960s-70s counterculture in full swing, it would've been better to understand the modern-day characters' interaction with the changing culture of 100 years before.


    Any additional comments?

    Mark Bramhall was absolutely stunning in The Big Rock Candy Mountain, and I was thrilled to find he read Angle of Repose. His performance did capture a 60ish man dictating tape recordings, but I agree with other reviewers that his depiction of Susan was considerably too whiny.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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