Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner is one of the Top 150 Novels of the 20th Century. It’s author based the fictional novel on actual letters written by a well-known artist and author named Mary Hallock Foote who lived in the late 1800’s. Stegner named his main character Susan and juxtaposed her life with that of her fictional grandson Lyman living in the middle of the 20th century.
Susan and her husband Oliver spend the majority of their marriage in sparsely inhabited areas of the western U.S. With poverty and solitude as constant companions, their relationship suffers greatly. In addition to a physical handicap, Lyman, the narrator, has his own marital difficulties. This colors his attitude towards his late grandmother.
There are many things I liked about this novel. Wegner’s depiction of the Old West and his characters are captivating. His writing style is impeccable. In fact, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for this novel. I was fascinated by the story’s main character Foote and hope to discover more about her life and work. The only criticism I have is that I found the character Lyman annoying, however, as the story unfolds, he has good reason to be. I wish his truth had been presented earlier in the novel. Other than that, I enjoyed this novel very much and recommend it highly.