Bo Mason, his wife, and his two boys live a transient life of poverty and despair. Drifting from town to town and from state to state, the violent, ruthless Bo seeks his fortune in the hotel business, in new farmland, and, eventually, in illegal rum-running throughout the treacherous back roads of the American Northwest.
Based largely on his own childhood, Stegner has created a masterful, harrowing saga of a family trying to survive during the lean years of the early 20th century. It is the conflict between the hardscrabble existence and Bo's pursuit of the frontier myth and of the American dream that gives the book such resonance and power.
©1938 1940, 1942, 1943 by Wallace Stegner; (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Stegner has felt the spell of mountain and prairie, of drought, flood, and blizzard....a harrowing saga." - (New York Times)
"Stands out beautifully and unforgettably." (New Yorker)
This is a tough book to review because I was completely entranced by this book. I became very involved in the trials and triumphs of the Mason family. Still, I'm not sure who I would recommend this novel to. It's definitely a great piece of fiction, but I can't say I feel satisfied after reading it.
Unfortunately, I think that was Stegner's point - the unsatisfactory end of a family trying to take advantage of the American dream. How much should you gamble? Can you raise children while being an American pioneer? What is the modern definition of pioneering if the West is already settled? If Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her Little House on the Prairie in the early 1900s...would it seem as delightfully innocent?
I definitely think Stegner's voice is an important one in American literature. In the future, I'd read another one of his novels.
A disfunctional family struggling through hard times, as seen throught he eyes of each member of the family. The best story I have listened to all year.
The story is set in the dying days of the US and Canadian frontiers, and the immediacy with which Stegner paints the wild times and places is fascinating. But more compelling is the way his writing brings the reader intimately close to the characters. He gets you right inside their skin.
This is a family saga and the main couple, Bo and Elsa Mason, are both flawed human beings, yet graced with extraordinary strengths and virtues. Across the length of the story they wrestle with the difficulties of their world, with each other and always with themselves. The reader is sometimes shocked by them and their circumstances, but never loses compassion for them.
Mark's voice is haunting, perfect for this deeply introspective story, and most especially the voice of the violent and passionate Bo. A smooth, easy voice to listen to. He did his homework and worked in a variety of accents and gave all the many characters an individual tone.
As I approached the last few chapters I didn't want the book to end. It's a big story. I listened to it over several days and wanted to cry because soon there'd be no more of it to unfold for me. When it ended, I went straight back to the beginning and started listening again.
The opening chapter is somewhat depressing and could put readers off. Keep listening. The instant Bo appears in the narrative, the story takes off on wings.
My first Wallace Stegner novel! Now I'm on a steady Stegner diet - slowly getting through every one of his books available on audible. I really like his writing style and the emotion that it carries. I can't believe I nearly gave up on Big Rock Candy Mountain. It took 3 attempts to get through part one which, to me, is the weakest part. From then on, the novel gathers strength and momentum dragging your emotions along for the ride. I believe Big Rock Candy Mountain is largely autobiographical. Perhaps those early painful experiences are what made Stegner the author I so admire. I mustn't forget the narrator. Mark Bramhall is wonderful and entirely right for the story. So, this is an all around 5 star read/listen that I highly recommend.
You, know? I feel so sorry for
Elsa. It was a good story, but parts made me mad.
When Elsa got cancer
Elsa protecting Bruce all the time from his Father.
Elsa, of course
I liked how each of the characters played into the family dynamic. Even when Harry Mason was being a control freak, the story was fleshed out so that you could see all angles of it. The characters were lovable but flawed, and even if you didn't love the characters you understood them. The narration was also top-notch.
Chet Mason. Also, his depiction of the drunken prohibition-era party was hilarious!
Elsa, for her dignity and strength.
I purchased this book on a whim and am so glad I did! I have heard others say that it is not as good as Angle of Repose, so I am going to have to check that one out too!
I have worked so hard for so long that I've had very little time to read. Enter iPhone4; now an earbud has cut driving time while I enjoy!!!
A wonderful piece of American History done here in a character study of an imperfect man and the woman who loved him. A scant 80 to 100 years ago life was fraught with unspeakable hardships. This is a very interesting, thoughtful and engaging tale of a family doing what they must to endure in the hard life of the American Northwest.
I recommend this book very highly; you will not be able to put it down.
Bramhall's narration did a fantastic job of capturing many distinct personalities - men,women and children alike.
An academic who listens to novels on runs and commutes to campus.
Wallace Stegner confronts the family dynamic in this book, asking the reader to consider how much family impacts day-to-day actions and character. This story revolves around the Mason family, as the family seeks security during the Prohibition and Great Depression in the Western US and Canada. The story dragged during the beginning stages, as there was an awkwardness in the narrative when the children were still young. Bruce, the youngest child, was a difficult youth, and the sections that dealt with his troubles dragged down the story. But once Bruce became an adult, independent from his father, his confidence allowed him to engage in the family dynamic in a more interesting and substantial manner.
Audible make my long commute so enjoyable! I love historical fiction, Nora Roberts, and any science related audibles (not enough of those).
YES!@ The description of nature and people in this book can be felt so much that you are there looking right at them. The young boys in the novel are anything but the real thing... there thoughts and statements.. It brougth me back to so many of my thoughts as a child.. and watching others. I love it!
They are all so good.
The description of the taste and feel of the countryside is excellent. I am there and brings me back to the times when I have been out in the woods... looking out at snow.. or looking into the dark of night.
A big surprize to me.. I could not stop listening!
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