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Angle of Repose

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  41,188 Ratings  ·  3,467 Reviews
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 twentieth 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 ti
Hardcover, Modern Library Edition, 632 pages
Published April 18th 2000 by Random House USA Inc (first published 1971)
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Deborah I think that the chapters on Leadville were among the most powerful in the book, mostly due to its exquisite description of the land and the mines at…moreI think that the chapters on Leadville were among the most powerful in the book, mostly due to its exquisite description of the land and the mines at that time in history. The Leadville mine in particular played a significant role in mining history. The book actually ends in Grass Valley, Ca., while the mining camp in Idaho is also written about. I think of the Idaho part as the more emotional part of their marriage, and the Leadville as a gripping description of what the land was really like. The Leadville writing is what stayed with me most, and and I have read it twice. I hope you liked the book..its my favorite! It is based on a true story of the artists life.(less)
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Lawrence J. Ulman
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Dec 12, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fellow Goodreaders know that feeling of exhilaration when a new entrant pushes its way onto a top-ten-of-all-time list. Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize winner from 1972 is my most recent example. Of course, Goodreads reviewers also know the pressure involved in justifying the choice. So what makes this one so good? As befits a top ten inclusion, here are ten factors that come to mind.

1. A Damn Good Story

Lyman Ward is a former professor of history with a bone disease that put him in a wheelchai
Aug 27, 2007 BT rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to BT by: Goodreads reviewers
I read this book based largely on the Goodreads reviews. Maybe I'm not as smart as other reviewers, or maybe other reviewers give it high praise because it was a Pulitzer Prize winner and they didn't want to look dumb (something to which I have no aversion), or maybe this was just a fluke, but I didn't think this book was worth reading. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I started the book about 4 or 5 times, and when I finally did slog through it, it was in 5 and 10 page increments. I just coul ...more
Apr 09, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book twice so far. The first time, I was a single college student. The second time, I had been married about five years. I'm sure I will read it again a few more times. And I'm sure that the more years of marriage I've logged, the more I will get out of this book.

Marriage, and what it takes -- and takes out of you -- to make it work is the main theme of this book. Stegner has some profound things to say about it. But even before I could personally relate to the story's main the
Steven  Godin
Wallace Stegner was once quoted as saying " It’s perfectly clear that if every writer is born to write one story, that’s my story", this was referring to the tour-de-force novel that is 'Angle of Repose' which just about ticks all the boxes in terms of literary perfection, containing masterful writing of great prose and vision, an epic, engrossing and mature story charting four generations of an american family trying to carve a piece of history into the western frontier, and richly detailed cha ...more
For the first third of this novel, I was unsure of what Stegner's objective was with the story of Oliver and Susan Ward. We know that Susan Ward is loosely based off of the life of writer/artist Mary Foote, but I found it hard to believe that Stegner was simply composing a tribute to a woman who's work he admired. Finally, 199 pages in, Stegner was kind enough to put it to us directly.

Lyman Ward is composing a biography of his grandparents who moved out west a hundred years earlier. When discus
Scott Axsom
Dec 05, 2011 Scott Axsom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fiction moves me most when it’s most piercingly honest – when it reveals to me places in my heart that I’ve been afraid to recognize the existence of. Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose examines the part of us that's reluctant to forgive and that cannot seem to learn how to forget. The book is hauntingly true and ruthlessly introspective and it left me, at times, gasping for breath at the beauty of its lyricism - it could serve well as a master class in honest writing.

Stegner writes from the per
May 05, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Sara by: Elyse
Staggering. Riveting. Perceptive. Penetrating. Wallace Stegner knows how to get inside a marriage and pull at it and prod at it, until it settles down into what it cannot help becoming and finds its angle of repose. This story is the saddest kind of story possible, because it is about the loss of opportunity, the loss of happiness, and the loss of what might have been. It wrenches and tears and tatters the reader. I was gasping from the injustice, the cross-purposes, the lack of communication an ...more

Stegner is almost unheard of outside the U.S, and even in his home country he seems to remain at the periphery of the collective literary consciousness. For the life of me I cannot work out why. Apparently, even after winning the Pulitzer, the New York Times refused to review this novel.

The first point to note about Stegner is that he is a master of prose, a craftsman of great skill and control. Reading his work is a pleasure, pure and simple. There is perhaps something of the lyrical, or the R
Nov 29, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, it took a while for this novel to reach a certain momentum as the author introduces the reader to the narrator, Lyman Ward. He is a wheelchair-bound historian in the process of writing a biography of the life of his grandparents, Oliver and Susan Ward. He recreates their lives, mostly from his grandmother’s letters written in the 1870’s. I’m a great fan of American Western fiction but I lean towards a pared down, spare writing style; so this woman’s florid prose and descriptions – her ve ...more
Jul 11, 2015 ☮Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ☮Karen by: Angela M
Stegner makes the job of writing seem effortless.  His brilliance shines through as he uses wheelchair-bound Lyman, a writer writing the history of his grandmother Susan Ward going back to circa 1870-1895. Susan's published writings and illustrations and her personal letters of her married life in the American West  provide him  (and we readers) wonderful insight into the human experience--interpersonal  relationships, a marriage between social opposites--seamlessly juxtaposed with Lyman's  estr ...more
Jun 10, 2013 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the Wings of Love

"He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise."
William Blake

This novel is structured with a fictional novelist writing a novel (meta-fiction) based on the life of his grandmother (which character is partly based the life of a real woman). The story travels between
1) the 1st person account of the novelist, a retired lit prof who recently had a leg amputated, after which his wife left him for his su
Dec 23, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014
I finished the book almost three weeks ago, but then I got caught in the day job with overtimes and in the year end parties,
I hope I will get back here and give it the consideration and attention it deserves.
For now, let me just say that it is worthy of using caps, as in Great American Novel.

Lyman Ward is a retired professor of history, immobilized in a wheelchair by a bone disease that has left his body twisted, his vertebrae fused so that his neck is unable to turn, so
Elizabeth (Alaska)
As I read this, I thought, "this is about a 4 star read." So why did I give it 5 stars? It is such a beautiful book, that's why. There were many parts that didn't seem to move along, which is why I thought I would be stingy, but I'm so very glad the author took his time. And I felt myself talking to the characters, mostly Susan. "Don't be so removed from your life - how many do you get?" Could I be so involved with a story and not give it 5 stars?
Debbie Zapata
Jul 24, 2013 Debbie Zapata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturday
Here is the definition of angle of repose: "the maximum slope, measured in degrees from the horizontal, at which loose solid material will remain in place without sliding." It is an engineering term and determines all sorts of things in construction, from how deep to dig a ditch to how high your slag pile can grow and still maintain its shape.

But in this novel, Stegner applies the term to people as well. How much stress can the people of this novel endure before they pass their angle of repose a
Linda Orvis
Mar 09, 2008 Linda Orvis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Lovers who seek depression
Recommended to Linda by: Pulitzer Prize Novels List
Stegner won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972 for this book. Goes to show you that you should disregard my reviews! Absolutely no taste, whatsoever. This book took me over two months to read because I kept putting it down. Down being the operative word here. It was not only a "downer", but lacked the skill of a good editor. In today's publishing world, Stegner wouldn't have gotten away with such a ponderous, heavy book. This was written in the "old way," with the author making it apparent t ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Ron
Have you ever had your hands on a book that you just couldn't leave alone? A book that you had to have with you at all times, reading it at the dinner table, sneaking peeks at it during work hours? Well, this isn't that book. It took me weeks to read this sucker. It really slowed down my reading least at first.

Stegner can definitely write a good story, and it did not escape my notice that this tale is richly detailed. Stegner knows the West, the stock, the people, the history, and all
Jul 13, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wallace Stegner’s 1971 novel Angle of Repose was a beautifully written, masterfully crafted, touchingly and ponderously enjoyable to read.

The dictionary tells us that an angle of repose means “the steepest angle at which a sloping surface formed of a particular loose material is stable”. A fitting enough title for a story that had a lot to do with mining and engineering, but in Stegner’s capable hands it comes to mean much more.

Telling the story of his Victorian grandparents as they helped to se
Jul 11, 2011 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
it doesn't surprise that this book won the pulitzer prize. it's an ambitious novel, cleverly constructed, effectively blending life and fiction, containing some beautiful sentences.

this is the story of lyman ward, a historian who has gone into retirement, afflicted by a bone disease that has resulted in the amputation of his right leg, living alone in the house that was his grandparents, and it is also about his grandmother, susan burling ward, an artist and writer, who moved from the east with
Mar 23, 2007 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is easily one of my favorite novels of the books I've read in the past 5 years. It's lauded as Stegner's masterpiece and I completely agree.

Stegner tells the story of a man who has a disease that is crippling him. He's living in his ancestral home, being taken care of by an old, old, family friend. He's a historian and feels compelled to research his paternal grandmother using the journals and keepsakes that are at the house. Stegner weaves the life story of the grandmother (and grandfathe
Aug 02, 2009 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Here is another book I never wrote a review ---

Its sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of my all favorite books!

Feb 09, 2014 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"A writer is an organism that will go on writing even after its heart has been cut out."

How can someone fall in love with a man's words as they flow effortlessly on paper, creating an atmosphere of dust, angst and raw emotion, yet feel like there's a superfluity of thoughts, making you want to throw a fit and toss the book on the ground? Stegner did this to me with the lack of editing in 'Angle of Repose'; it made me want to throw the book from utter boredom at times, but also engage myself so
Feb 05, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves-to-re-read
Wow, I really enjoyed reading this book! It was such a sad, sad story and just when you think it couldn't get worse, it did - maybe I enjoy unhappy endings... Nevertheless, Stegner is so deliciously descriptive and Lyman's narration was sometimes amusing and (very) frank.
In some ways I sympathized with Susan and understood how she may have felt leaving a life she loved behind and braving the unknown. I think that's what marriage is in general. (It also helped that she mentioned places like Poug
Aug 01, 2012 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gloria by: Steve Kendall
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars.

I was trying to think of a quote from this book which might sum it up best. I think I've narrowed it down to this:

I suppose in a way we deserve the people we marry.(p. 204)

Now, I'm just trying to figure if I agree with that statement and to what extent.

There were so many beautiful (achingly so) sections in this book, I lamented the fact that it wasn't mine to highlight and mark up (yes, library, I was good to your book).
To spare you, I will limit myself to three:

Touch. It is touch tha
Reading a Wallace Stegner novel is akin to a twenty-course feast; consumed purposely and leisurely, nibbled and savored with periods of digestive repose between courses. Angle of Repose is no exception. Stegner is certainly not stingy with his words. He isn't known for starkness. And he isn't miserly when it comes to descriptive elements or literary nuances.

Yes, it was a two week literary feast, and well worth the invested extravagance.

Both the title and the story are multidimensional. Stegn
Feb 28, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next review is for Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. This was our latest book club read for the month of February. It is a beautifully written, eloquent, descriptive book. It has been highly, highly recommended to me by several people...readers who I respect. Most of them have said that it was the best book they have ever read. Wow! That is saying a lot. This book is a very long and epic tale of a husband and wife who move to the west in the late 1800's to settle. This was good news to me. ...more
May 12, 2016 Irene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story within a story. It is the account of Susan Ward, a cultured New York young woman, a talented illustrator, who moves to the untamed West in 1875 with her engineer husband who moves the family from one primitive setting to the next in pursuit of jobs. It is the record of the thoughts and observations of her grandson, a 58 year old historian, a man severely crippled by a degenerative illness that robs him of his ability to move, who spends his days combing through his grandmother’s ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Doggone that Wally Stegner! If only he were still alive, I would hunt him down and hug his guts out! No other author speaks to me the way he does. I will try to write a better review if I get the time...
“Angle of Repose” is the fourth novel I have read by Wallace Stegner, It is, in my opinion, his best work. It won the Putlizer Prize in 1972. With Stegner, one cruises through prose that soothes and lines that sing. It is like being immersed in an orchestration of grand music that dips and swells as a compelling story unfolds.

The story was set in the 1970s in Grass Valley, California. When the novel opened, Lyman Ward, the 58-year-old narrator protagonist, a recent amputee and retired Berkeley H
Oct 18, 2007 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every single person who breathes
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book even more the second time around. In my opinion, this is the perfect novel. I don't have the expertise to identify the exact narration technique, but to have the narrator, Lyman Ward, not only share his beloved grandparent's 100 year-old history from his 20th century perch, providing both redemptive hindsight and worrisome foreshadowing when needed, but also his own story as an amputee with a debilitating bone disease bitterly protecting his lonely independence, furnishing the ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. This is a huge book and one I read very slowly to take in all the vivid imagery. I felt like I was right there as the characters moved from place to place. The author created very unique characters and their lives full of hope, joy, adversity and disappointment. The title of the book is spot on. Even though it took me a long time to get through it, I hate to leave it. So enjoyable in that kind of gentle meandering way.
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Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
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“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed and betray others ... an accidental brushing of shoulders or touching of hands ... hands laid on shoulders in a gesture of comfort that lies like a thief, that takes, not gives, that wants, not offers, that awakes, not pacifies. When one flesh is waiting, there is electricity in the merest contact.” 248 likes
“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” 189 likes
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