Stegner’s Angle of Repose

“Susan Ward came West not to join a new society but to endure it, not to build anything but to enjoy a temporary existence and make it yield whatever instruction it contained.”

Angle of Repose is a novel by Wallace Stegner about a wheelchair-bound historian who decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents. In this sentence we see the West coast through the eyes of a bride who is a true easterner. She continues to define herself through her cultured roots never quite embracing the rougher side of America where she eventually builds her family life. Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972.

My husband and I had our own mini reading group since we read Stegner’s book at the same time and could discuss its themes of America as a nation in flux, of young and old, of dreams reached, of finding a resting place when dreams aren’t realized. Wallace Stegner has said of his epic novel, “It’s perfectly clear that if every writer is born to write one story, that’s my story.”


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