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.
"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)
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.
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!!
Summed up in the four words above.
Tone and pace and characterization of voices were all excellent.
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.
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.
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.
I kept waiting for something interesting to happen or to become engaged in the story or characters, and there was just nothing there.
How slowly and uneventful the story unfolds.
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.
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.
Book is over rated.
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.
Good, nice voice.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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