I tend to walk into libraries (and even bookstores) with a list of books I plan to read only to become distracted by the first display shelf I see. Much easier to grab this book that the librarians have already plucked than to spend time searching the online catalog and shelves.
And so it went during my last trip to the library. I planned to use a few of your recommendations but instead brought home “Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner. The title helped sell it; I’m still turning those words over in my head. Angle of repose. Angle of repose.
This is a story for women, though I’m sure men would enjoy it, too. I expected a novel about the West — cowboys and cabins — but this is foremost a depiction of marriage. Much of the book is told from the perspective of a woman who is a writer and artist and a feminist to boot. She marries an engineer who dreams of building the West and has little use for words. They love each other but are a complete intellectual mismatch.
The story is set in the 1800s and was written in 1971, but the themes remain valid. How do two people compromise when their dreams take them in different directions? How do you decide when a dream needs to be pushed aside for the sake of practicality? I became increasingly frustrated with the wife’s choices as I read and kept having to remind myself that she was trapped by the conventions of that time period.
It’s rare that I find such a nuanced depiction of marriage. No happy American endings here, but a book with such an honest portrayal of human relationships has no need to take the easy way out.