chrispugliese, November 25, 2012 (view all comments by chrispugliese)
This is a fantastic read, the story of a physically disabled man, learning to take help from others, while at the same time, researching his family history and uncovering a devastating story of love and tragedy. I was completely absorbed by this book and can't recommend it enough. It is beautifully written, compassionate, and so very interesting on many levels.
Wendy Robards, April 20, 2008 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
Lyman Ward, a retired history professor and writer, returns to his grandparent’s home in Grass Valley, California - wheelchair bound and facing a progressive, crippling bone disease. His intent is to research his grandmother’s life through the news clippings and letters of her past. To write her story, Ward must fill in gaps, imagine conversations, and uncover the truths which lie hidden in Susan Burling Ward’s history. During this one hot, dry summer in a quest to know his grandmother, he will discover the meaning beneath the shadows of his own life.
Wallace Stegner penned Angle of Repose in 1971 for which he won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. The novel - said to be his masterpiece - connects two points in American history…that of the late nineteenth century West with that of the turbulent, sometimes self-indulgent Vietnam era. Stegner creates complex and intriguing characters. Susan Burling (based on the historical figure of Mary Hallock Foote - a nineteenth century writer and illustrator) becomes an unlikely pioneer when she marries the quiet and ambitious dreamer Oliver Ward. Their adventures in mining camps and the vast wilderness of Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, and California create a backdrop of unbelievable beauty and isolation from which their lives unfold.
'She guided her horse through willows and alders and runted birches, leaned and weaved until the brush ended and she broke into the open. She was at the edge of a meadow miles long, not a tree in it except for the wriggling line that marked the course of the Lake Fork. Stirrup-high grass flowed and flawed in the wind, and its motion revealed and hid and revealed again streaks and splashes of flowers-rust of paintbrush, blue of pentstemon, yellow of buttercups, scarlet of gilia, blue-tinged white of columbines. All around, rimming the valley, bare peaks patched with snow looked down from above the scalloped curve of timberline.' -From Angle of Repose, page 237-
Angle of Repose is not simply an historical novel. It explores the idea of identity and how the past often intersects the present. When Lyman Ward explores his grandmother’s story, he is really seeking to find understanding in his own life.
'Fooling around in the papers my grandparents, especially my grandmother, left behind, I get glimpses of lives close to mine, related to mine in ways I recognize but don’t completely comprehend.' - From Angle of Repose, page 5-
Stegner’s prose is alluring, filled with gorgeous descriptions which engage the reader’s senses. His characters are bigger than life, but carry real flaws which allow the reader to identify with them; to nod in understanding; to empathize with their torments and cheer for their successes. I can understand why Angle of Repose is lauded, why it captured the Pulitzer and why readers are quick to recommend it. I found myself completely immersed in the lives of Susan, Oliver and Lyman Ward and I was sad to turn the last page of this sprawling and satisfying novel.
Highly recommended; a must read; rated 5/5.
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by Los Angeles Times,
"Brilliant....Two stories, past and present, merge to produce what important fiction must: a sense of the enhancement of life."
by The Boston Globe,
"Masterful....Reading it is an experience to be treasured."
by The Atlantic Monthly,
"Cause for celebration....A superb novel with an amplitude of scale and richenss of detail altogether uncommon in contemporary fiction."
by San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle,
"A fine novel, engrossing and mature...for when all is said individual lives are very much like bits of detritus, rolling down from the high places of stress and emotion until they reach that place where the tumpling and falling stops and they find their angle of repose. To chronicle this movement as well as this novel does is high art — and first-rate writing."
Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. Through the prism of one family, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel illuminates the American present against the fascinating background of its past.
Stegners Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of personal, historical, and geographic discovery
Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.
"Cause for celebration . . . A superb novel with an amplitude of scale and richness of detail altogether uncommon in contemporary fiction." —The Atlantic Monthly
"Brilliant . . . Two stories, past and present, merge to produce what important fiction must: a sense of the enchantment of life." —Los Angeles Times
This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by Jackson J. Benson.
Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery--personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.
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