- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (31 Dec 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140139400
- ISBN-13: 978-0140139402
- Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,160,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
This is a book about love, about duty, about the sweet fulfillment of an enduring marriage, and about the sad futility of age. It is about kindness and despair; about joy and the bittersweet sadness of unrequitted love. It is filled with intelligence and wit and written by a man who was an absolute master of his craft.
It is pointless for me to go on. There is no superlative I can use which will ever do justice to this lovely, poignant novel. Despite the fact that we know what the inescapable conclusion is going to be, the last five or six pages are nevertheless like a series of hammer-blows to the heart, and I don't recall another novel bringing tears to my eyes as this one did at its end. It is only January the 6th, and I know I will not read a better novel this year, or perhaps for many years to come.
This book won the National Book Award in 1977. It's about Joe Allston, a retired literary agent, who lives with his wife in California. He is 69 years old and looking back at his life with a sense of discontent. He and his wife relive a trip they took to Denmark 20 years before, by reading a journal that Joe kept while they were there. The plot line switches back and forth from the present to the past.
This book is about the choices we make in our lives and how they affect everything that comes after. It's about aging and death, and foremost about life. Stegner writes about real life in such intimate terms that it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck (at least it does that to me). Needless to say, a very highly recommended read.