In "Angle of Repose," written by Wallace Stegner and published in 1971, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes readers on a captivating journey through time, exploring the intricacies of human relationships and the pursuit of happiness. Stegner combines historical fiction, memoir, and fictional letters to create a thought-provoking narrative that delves into themes of love, loss, family, and the meaning of home. Set in both the past and the present, the novel offers readers a unique perspective on the challenges and choices that shape our lives.
"Angle of Repose" tells the story of Lyman Ward, a wheelchair-bound historian, who embarks on a quest to uncover the forgotten story of his grandparents' lives. With a deep curiosity about the past and a desire for connection, Lyman delves into the letters and diaries left by his grandmother, Susan Ward, to piece together the history of his family.
The novel transports readers between the present, where Lyman struggles with his own failing marriage and physical limitations, and the past, where the extraordinary lives of his grandparents unfold against the backdrop of the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Susan Ward, a talented artist, finds herself drawn to the rugged landscapes of the West and the promise of adventure. She marries Oliver Ward, a mining engineer who fills her life with both joy and hardship. As they move from place to place, Susan tries to balance her artistic aspirations with the expectations of marriage and motherhood. Oliver, burdened by his own demons and professional obstacles, finds solace in the solitude of his work and the unpredictable nature of mining.
Throughout their journey, Susan and Oliver encounter a host of fascinating characters who shape their lives and challenge their understanding of love and loyalty. From friends and neighbors to fellow pioneers and even Native Americans, the diverse cast brings depth and complexity to the narrative.
- Susan and Oliver Ward meet and marry in the East, but their marriage faces challenges as they struggle with Oliver's career and Susan's desire for artistic fulfillment.
- They travel to various mining towns, including Colorado and Idaho, where they encounter the hardships and excitement of the frontier.
- Susan becomes close friends with Augusta, a strong-willed woman who defies societal norms and pushes Susan to follow her own dreams.
- The Wards face both personal and professional setbacks, including a mining disaster and Oliver's declining health.
- They move to California, where Susan finds success as a portrait artist, but their marriage continues to deteriorate.
- Susan befriends Shelly, a Native American who introduces her to Indian culture and spirituality, leading to a deeper understanding of the land and her own identity.
- Oliver's death brings a sense of freedom and liberation for Susan, allowing her to pursue her artistic passions without restraint.
|A wheelchair-bound historian who tells the story of his grandparents and struggles with his own marital issues and physical limitations.
|Lyman's grandmother, a talented artist who strives to balance her artistic aspirations with marriage and motherhood.
|Susan's husband, a mining engineer burdened by personal demons and the challenges of his profession.
|Susan's close friend and confidante, who encourages her to pursue her artistic passions and pushes back against societal expectations.
|A Native American friend of Susan's who introduces her to Indian culture and spirituality, reshaping her perspective on the land and her identity.
"Angle of Repose" explores several thematic elements that resonate with readers and provide valuable insights into the human experience.
Stegner delves into the longing for a sense of home and belonging, showcasing the arduous journey of pioneers who constantly seek stability and a place to call their own. Through Susan and Oliver's experiences, the novel highlights the deep desire to find a physical and emotional home in a rapidly changing world.
The novel addresses the limitations and expectations placed on women during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Susan, Augusta, and other female characters challenge societal norms and strive to assert their individuality and pursue their passions amidst a patriarchal society, often at the cost of personal sacrifice.
Stegner explores the complexities of human relationships, both romantic and platonic, and how they evolve and change over time. The novel highlights the impact of love, friendship, and loyalty on individual lives and the lasting legacy they leave behind.
Through Susan's encounters with different cultures and the natural landscape of the West, the novel explores themes of self-discovery and identity. Susan's journey allows her to redefine herself and discover a deeper connection to the land and her own artistic passions.
"Angle of Repose" is a captivating and poignant exploration of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. Stegner's masterful storytelling weaves together the past and present, offering readers a unique perspective on the choices we make and the impact they have on our lives. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel invites readers to reflect on their own relationships and the pursuit of happiness, delving into themes that are both timeless and deeply relevant.
"Angle of Repose" is a beautifully crafted novel that skillfully combines history, fiction, and personal reflection. Stegner's rich and immersive storytelling transports readers to a bygone era, where the challenges and triumphs of the Wards become an allegory for the universal desire for love, fulfillment, and connection. This is a book that lingers in the hearts and minds of readers long after the final page is turned, reminding us of the power of storytelling to illuminate the complexities of the human experience.