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The Big Rock Candy Mountain | [Wallace Stegner]

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (624 )
5 star
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Overall
4.1 (389 )
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Story
4.3 (396 )
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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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  •  
    Chloe COLUMBUS, OH, United States 10-15-12
    Chloe COLUMBUS, OH, United States 10-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wow"
    If you could sum up The Big Rock Candy Mountain in three words, what would they be?

    You, know? I feel so sorry for
    Elsa. It was a good story, but parts made me mad.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Big Rock Candy Mountain?

    When Elsa got cancer


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Elsa protecting Bruce all the time from his Father.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Big Rock Candy Mountain and why?

    Elsa, of course


    Any additional comments?

    Good book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-13-12
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "The big rock Candy Mountain"
    What did you love best about The Big Rock Candy Mountain?

    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.


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

    Chet Mason. Also, his depiction of the drunken prohibition-era party was hilarious!


    Who was the most memorable character of The Big Rock Candy Mountain and why?

    Elsa, for her dignity and strength.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Waverly, OH, United States 10-08-12
    Judy Waverly, OH, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2011

    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!!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprisingly Engaging"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Murphy Dubai, United Arab Emirates 10-02-12
    Murphy Dubai, United Arab Emirates 10-02-12 Member Since 2014
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    9
    2
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    "Masterful Performance"
    What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

    Bramhall's narration did a fantastic job of capturing many distinct personalities - men,women and children alike.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William M Storm MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 10-02-12
    William M Storm MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2012

    An academic who listens to novels on runs and commutes to campus.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Family Troubles"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill ceres, CA, United States 09-21-12
    Bill ceres, CA, United States 09-21-12 Member Since 2011

    Audible make my long commute so enjoyable! I love historical fiction, Nora Roberts, and any science related audibles (not enough of those).

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    "This book can not be put down..."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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!


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

    They are all so good.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    A big surprize to me.. I could not stop listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat 08-06-12
    Pat 08-06-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Pioneer dreams and despairs"
    What other book might you compare The Big Rock Candy Mountain to and why?

    The Grapes of Wrath
    Families dealing with adversity. The father Bo Mason engenders empathy although he is the catalyst for his wife and son's misfortunes. Bo is also a victim of the times.


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

    Great voice that suits the themes and environment portrayed


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Epic tale of flawed characters of the American West in the early 20th century


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Lecanto, FL, United States 03-15-12
    Cynthia Lecanto, FL, United States 03-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Literature"
    If you could sum up The Big Rock Candy Mountain in three words, what would they be?

    A wonderful story,expertly told & written with characters that you really know bceause they are so well depicted. My first Stegner book & what a remarkable find- this man really knows how to write a compelling story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scout Lewiston, CA, United States 02-05-12
    Scout Lewiston, CA, United States 02-05-12

    Loves a good book

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    "Enthralling book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Big Rock Candy Mountain to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the book - discovering Stegner rather late in life via my son. Heard short story on NPR and fascinated by it. I feel that Mr. Bramhall brings so much to his reading; characters live. I'd never say that about a movie vs a book read. I look forward to either reading (favorite thing to do) all of Stegner or listening while I quilt.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Elsa is formidable in her tenacity - in her choice to leave home against her family's wishes and in her determination to stay with Bo, no matter the personal cost. I have to remind myself that women of those times did not have the options open to women of today, so though much of her life was hardfought and a misery, she's heroic in her protection of those she loved. Bo - determined to grind out a living according to his own ideas and was, most of his life, pushing his personal boulder up a rugged mountain. Almost have to admire that.


    What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

    I could hear the people clearly - woman, child or man. Thank you Mr. Bramhall


    Any additional comments?

    It was heartbreaking to realize this is autobiographical in many ways; to know most of this was Stegner's personal story. How dificult to write Bruce's first visit to the mortuary. Only someone who lived those moments could write exactly those words.

    Very telling that Stegner's father's grave is unmarked.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geoffrey Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 11-16-11
    Geoffrey Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 11-16-11 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Glorious"

    A performance with a shining brilliance, reflecting a story of beauty, pain and love, of the broad geography of the west and the struggle of the individual and the family. Worth every minute of words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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