I started this book a couple of days ago and am about two thirds of the way through. I simply cannot put it down. Wallace Stegner at his very best.
The main character and story teller is Joe Allston. He and his wife have retired to a remote area of California after the death of their son to escape. After a couple of years of living reasonably peacefully Jim Peck, described on the back of the book as a bearded cultist, and the Catlin family arrive. Marian, wife and mother of the Catlin family, is both pregnant and recovering from breast cancer. Allston is drawn to Marion but irritated by Jim. All three characters are very different and pull each other about a bit. I just love the amazing understanding of human nature that Stegner seems to have and his wonderful descriptions. So far a joy to read.
Am at page 22 of this book and already have had some smiles, items I've had to look up, met up with Karen Blixen (Out of Africa author), marvellous descriptions and writing which just flows. It's now 1 a.m and I should be in bed but am having trouble just needing to read a few more pages.
Stegner writes in such a way as there is instant recognition as to how his character is feeling, it's as if you are right there with him experiencing his irritation because the postman is late, somehow you are inside his head, even to the goose bumps which accompany the bit of fresh breeze when you are not in the sun. Joe Allston is someone you know.
I started this book a few days ago having had it on my TBR shelf for some time. Having bought the book I was put off reading it by another reader who thought that it was a bit of a miserable read. I was surprised to find no existing thread for this book but unless both RG and I are both looking in the wrong place none seems to exist which is a shame as I would have liked to have known what others have thought.
Having got best part of half way through the book I would have to agree that the book is not a cheerful read! However that does not mean to say that I am not enjoying reading it. As usual with Wallace Stegner the book is beautifully written. He has a wonderful ability to paint pictures for the reader so much so that at times I feel as if I can almost place myself within the landscape that he is describing. The characters are clearly drawn and all attract strong feelings within me. However, the feelings I have for each character are constantly changing as the story unfolds and the characters develop. At times I have found myself aching for all of the main characters no matter how they have behaved.
I think that it was Binker who first drew my attention to Stegner. After I reread The Grapes of Wrath I seem to remember her saying that the writing of Wallace Stegner was far more descriptive of the early part of 20th century America. I do not know whether this is true or not or even if that was exactly what she meant. What I do know is that I am very glad that my attention was drawn to this authour. This is the third novel of his that I have attempted and my love for his writing is growing all the time.
Binker and I have just started a simultaneous read of this book by Wallace Stegner. Hoping to have an open discussion here, and hoping others will join in either with past thoughts or present reading. I will try to remember to be courteous with spoiler warnings.
The basic storyline,(although there is nothing basic about this novel) is that Lyman Ward, wheelchair bound, nearing the end of his own life, and a historian by trade, is writing the story of his grandparents lives,and their struggles ,both financial and personal, during the settling of the western US. In the process of that he is also coming to terms with the lives of his parents, his son, and himself.
So I'm really enjoying Angle of Repose. Beautiful use of language and foreshadowing. Almost post-modernist in its creative use of letters and other sources, and the self referential aspects of Lyman's narration. I don't think I saw the humor the first time I read this in the 80's. I think I was too literal minded. Been pondering the relationship of Susan and Augusta. I think I agree with Lyman that there wasn't a sexual component, and I don't think either of them were gay. But they were obviously in love with each other. My point is that I think there is a cultural misperception about what love really is and how it may relate to sexual attraction. I used the term 'in love' as opposed to just 'loved' about their relationship because of the jealousy aspect. Seems to me that real love would transcend jealous, possessive feelings.