Angle of Repose, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


The novel tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home in the Sierra Nevada.

Wheelchair-bound with a crippling bone disease, Ward embarks nonetheless on a search to rediscover his grandmother, no long dead, who made her own journey to Grass Valley nearly a hundred years earlier.


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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

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Angle of repose is a term used by geologists to determine the place where an object, perhaps after much traveling, has finally come to rest. Wallace Stegner uses this term as the title of his novel about the settling of the American North-West in the 1890's. The story begins with a retired historian researching the lives of his grandparents who moved from the comforts of the East coast to the wild plains of Montana. His grandfather was a surveyor & engineer. His grandmother was an artist who had already attracted notice from critics when she left her place in society to join her husband in what she believed to be a great adventure.The story weaves between the historian narrator (who is old & infirm) & the grandparents - who we see as young, adventurous newly-weds. This could be a love story, but life in the newly-settled territories was harsh & demanding. Mis-understandings arise & the ultimate tragedy drives them apart. Still, they are unable to let each other go. The historian ponders their silent history as his own world of once solid, reliable academia is rocked by the hippie rebelion at his Berkely CA campus. Yet he struggles to understand the world around him & tries not to repeat his grandfather's choice of closing his mind to any possibility that his choice might not be the only one.The one problem I had reading this book was the back & forth between 1890 & the (then) turbulent 1960's. Seen from a distance of 40 years later, I don't think the "Hippie revolt" had the significance that Stegner gives to it. The story of the pioneer couple was certainly strong enough to stand on its own. Incidently, Stegner modeled the story of his female character on the life of a real artist who had published an account of her life in the "wild west." Stegner was accused of plagiarism, but he did not plariaize. The words he used were all his own.ANGLE OF REPOSE was awarded a pulitzer prize for fiction.

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Rich, slow account of a wheelchair-bound historian uncovering the intricacies of his grandparents' marriage.

Review by

Wow. What wisdom and insight.

Review by

Rich historical fiction with a strong female character. Loved it!

Review by

Stegner's <i>East of Eden</i>. A writer goes back into his family history, and runs into as much pain as he currently suffers due to advanced arthritis. This is a truley wonderful read.

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