mstan's Reviews > Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
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Mar 25, 12

bookshelves: american, lit-ty, kindle, favourites, src-spring-2012
Read from February 17 to March 04, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

This book was seriously difficult to read - at least at the beginning - and nothing really happens in it, but ugh, did it ever get me in the gut.

Lyman Ward is a historian who has to live with a debilitating physical condition. A divorced man with one married son, his sole obsession is researching the life of his late grandmother, Susan Ward, who despite having an artist's temperament and inclinations, gives up her dreams to accompany her husband, Frank Ward, to various parts of the American frontier.

Lyman's story is hidden for most part of the book by Susan's - his re-imagining of her life and her letters to her best friend Augusta forming the bulk of it (and creating a lot of confusion in my mind at the beginning, because I really shouldn't have chosen this as an MRT read for the early morning). Then, there are little explosions of the present amidst the nostagia for the past, and the source of Lyman's bitterness is revealed.

I loved Stegner's exploration of what history is, what family history is in particular, and why we hold the past to us so dearly. More than that, I just can't get over the way he intertwines pain and love in every agonising relationship here. It floored me.
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