Book Reviews of Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose
Angle of Repose
Author: Wallace Stegner
ISBN-13: 9780449209882
ISBN-10: 0449209881
Publication Date: 9/12/1985
Pages: 512
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 19

3.8 stars, based on 19 ratings
Publisher: Fawcett
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

29 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Angle of Repose on + 384 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
this could possibly be the best written book i have ever read! it won the Pulitzer in the early 70's and ambles along telling its story taking its time as a storyteller in the old west would do.
a historian who is confined to a wheelchair decides to write the history of his grandparents who were some of the first people to settle the west. it is about the ups and downs of mining,marriage,family and the time out on the plains.
a must read for those who love historical fiction that is genuine and wonderful
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Helpful Score: 6
Hard to get into at first, but then it carried me along on a journey that brought about introspection as well as entertainment. Highly recommend for those who enjoy classic literature.
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Helpful Score: 6
One of the very few books that I've read twice. A wonderful story of a family on the Western frontier, told by a master. Wallace Stegner was a brilliant writer. Anyone would enjoy this book, winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize.
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Helpful Score: 5
Read this book. Stunningly beautiful writing, vivid imagery and characters you can't help but invest in. Wallace Stegner won the Pulitzer for this book.

I had been hearing high recommendations for Angle of repose for more than a year before I finally decided to read it. What held me back? The misconception that Wallace Stegner, being a contemporary writer that loved writing about the the West, wrote 'Westerns'. I love many genres, but Westerns do not hold my interest so I do not choose to read them.

But I couldn't have been more misinformed. Wallace Stegner loves to place his stories in the West that he grew up in, but they are most definitely not 'Westerns' of the Cowboy/Indian/Wild West variety. You will be hard-pressed to find a more hauntingly eloquent writer, more universal themes, and more vividly life-like characters.
reviewed Angle of Repose on
Helpful Score: 4
As old as I am, I believe this is the first time I have ever read a Pulitzer Prize winning book. I may have read another in the far distant past, but if I did, I certainly don't remember it like I will remember this book. It is a story that kept me spell-bound and I would recommend it as highly as I can. You will be drawn in by the author and kept on the brink throughout the entire read. I can't say enough good things about this book and am looking forward to reading more by Wallace Stegner. What a great author.
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Helpful Score: 2
The title of this complex novel about a marriage between two unlikely persons intrigued me from the first. "The angle of repose" is an engineering term, and as I understand it (being no engineer) it has to do with the angle at which bulky materials, like soil, finally settle and come to rest after being dumped onto a surface. Aside from also being a wonderful image, the title also gives the reader a clue about the way the novel will end -- after years and years of struggling to come to terms with the challenges of a marriage filled with conflicting priorities, the protagonist finally is able to come to an uneasy peace with it. There are actually two protagonists in this story, each dealing with difficult marriages, each finally arriving at their own angles of repose: Lyman Ward, crippled with a disease that has left him totally dependent on others to care for him, has come back to his Grandparents home to sort through papers and correspondence in order to piece together the details of their tumultuous life together. That's how we meet the other protagonist, Susan Burling Ward a lively and talented artist from the East who is used to living in an Edith Wharton kind of world until she meets and marries Oliver Ward,an ambitious mining engineer whose career depends on being able to relocate from one mining camp to another all along the great Western frontier. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the interplay between fact (what Lyman was able to discover through newspaper clippings and published accounts of what actually was going on) and conjecture (based on what he inferred when reading between the lines of his grandmother's letters.) As he says "What interests me in all these papers is not Susan Burling Ward the novelist and illustrator, and not Oliver Ward the engineer, and not the West they spend their lives in. What really interests me is how two such unlike particles clung together, and under what strains, rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where i knew them. That's where the interest is. That's where the meaning will be if I find any." The fact that he does find meaning, and that it is so relevant to him in terms of his own crumbling marriage makes this a particularly good novel. Stegner does a masterful job of weaving together plot lines, and creating vivid multidimensional characters. The details he provides about aspects of the American West in the 19th century give the reader a glimpse into an especially rich and colorful part of our history. But it is the insights into marriage that I feel make this such a brilliant novel. Stegner has beautifully captured the heartbreaking complexity of a marriage between two people whose deep love for each other ends up diminishing them both.
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Helpful Score: 1
Highly recommended for history of the westward expansion and development of the United States. Took me quite a while to read because I got interested in many of the side themes and real people mentioned in this novel. You could read the basic plot line without much time or trouble. It's the related material that adds to the interest and the time required to read and absorb what I think Stegner wants the reader to learn about. Also, good treatment of dichotomy between the East and the West of the U.S., a subject less familiar to me than the dichotomy between North and South.
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Helpful Score: 1
On the plus side, this is a well-constructed generational novel of great depth and an extremely ambitious set-up. There are extremely compelling story elements and a historical aspect that is vividly depicted. The downside is that there are few characters that I was able to really like, and those that I did were minor figures in the narrative. In addition to that, it really is largely a rip-off of a very real life story. The dream sequence is extremely irritating (you'll know what I mean if you read it), and the book doesn't exactly come to a complete conclusion. In the end, the writing warrants four stars, but it is not a book I could say I love. That being said, it did win the Pulitzer, so is a fairly important contribution to literature.
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Helpful Score: 1
Slow without being boring. Interesting, multi-dimensional characters that you can really empathize with. Maybe I like it because the story reminds me of my grandmother (college educated in the 1920s who gave up her career possibilities to follow her geologist husband to the middle of the California desert).
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Helpful Score: 1
The first time I read this I was too young, but re-reading it recently I was drawn to the complex characters who have to negotiate a self and a career and a love which do not necessarily have the same needs. As an academic, I and nearly all of my colleagues have had to negotiate the tricky business of solving the "two-body problem" without destroying everything else along the way. And, the physicist in me just plain loves the title.
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This quiet book hit home for me on multiple levels and I enjoyed this read very much. The format is a story within a story - one set in the present of the 1970s and the other set in the late 1880s - and the narrator, a retired and disabled Berkley professor, is struggling to write a history of his grandparent's lives while simultaneously reflecting on his own lot in life. As a budding genealogist with a secret wish to capture my own family's history on paper, I was drawn to the historical nature of the story as well as the narrator's mission. The book also spoke to me on an emotional level and I enjoyed the study of relationships, and especially the power play between the narrator's grandparents. The balance between his grandmother's career and preconceived notions of what her marriage and husband "should be" and their impact on her husband and children felt very contemporary. Although I have questioned the award of the Pulitzer Prize in the past, this time the accolades are justified.
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Stegner is one of the best prose stylists I've come across in a long time. It's hard to express how lucid and elegant his writing is, and how solid and down-to-earth. It has remarkable depth, and gives the impression that each word was carefully chosen, even though it flows as easily and naturally as breathing and is a sheer pleasure to read.

However, the lovely prose told a story that I found vaguely disappointing. With its origins in a real-life pioneer woman's experiences, it is certainly well told and believable, and neatly weaves together past and present. The characters and events are well-drawn and interesting too, to a point. The story simply goes on too long, crammed with excessive detail and unneeded repetition. After a while, even as I enjoyed the way the tale was expressed, I felt that I had learned all I needed or wanted to know about these people and their lives.
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Just damn FINE writing--what a journey inside this man's mind. I loved this book.
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Good but too long and "wordy"
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Very good. Wonderful story; unexpected elements; sweeping story of four generations of an American family carving out a life in the West.
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This book was recommended to me by a good friend. It's her favorite. I was blown away. The writing is fantastic. The whole mood of the book is one that overtook me. It reminded me of The Thornbirds because it's a sweeping saga of a woman's life of struggle. The narrator is writing the story of his grandmother's life. At times I became impatient when the story turned to his own life but in the end it was his life that struck me most. Read this book! (Pulitzer Prize winner, too!).
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Interesting read that juxtaposes a grandson in his latter years with his grandmother and grandfather as he untangles their lives as they came West in the 1880s and 1890s. His grandmother's story is woven from piles of letters to her Eastern friends. His grandfather was a mining engineer and inventor a bit ahead of his time.
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This is one of my favorite books.
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A historian, heartbroken and broken in body, searches for meaning through the reseraching of his grandmother's biography. A study of this woman, whose life led from the cultural salons of the East to the mud streets of mining towns on the Western frontiers, reveals a family tragedy and fragile reconciliation of sorts...one that may help strenghten him in the path of forgiveness he must follow to repair his personal tragedies.
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Wonderful writing by one of our best American authors, describing a family that helps to build the West. I highly recommend it, but I cannot post it because I already loaned it out.
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An excellent book! Alternates between present day and his grandparents time. Easy way to learn about western, mining, and engineering history. I enjoyed reading this book.
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This is a wonderful book. You get both the author's interpretation of the people he is writing about, as well as his life. It was a great read!!
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The best of Stegner's books -- fully worthy of aa Pulitzer!
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This book was utterly facinating. It made me more interested in finding out about my great-grandfather. The author kept my interest to the last page.
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an engrossing tale of a family.
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Another one of my most favorite reads. Beautifully written characters.
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Easy to see why this was an award winner.
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"A severely disabled professor, whose marriage has failed, researches and writes the saga of his pioneer grandparents, a couple whose marriage lasted in spite of tremendous adversity and tragedy...

Stegner won the Pulitzer for Angle of Repose...It's a big, long, lush, slowly progressing story that weaves the distant past with the near past with the present beautifully and seamlessly.

Superb. Read this one and savor it. Don't rush yourself." amazon review
reviewed Angle of Repose on + 5 more book reviews
Interesting portrait of a woman trying to survive in the American West, as told by her dying grandson.