Angle of Repose: Book 1
The first chapter encourages the reader to become familiarized with the setting, characters and the purpose of the book. Due to the tension involving the two-generations and because of his own need of understanding, Lyman Ward is determined to better understand and write about his family. He is doing this so that he will be able to understand his own life better. The theme of the Doppler effect is also brought up and illustrates the irony in his grandfather and grandmothers lives. Lyman Ward meets and hires his housekeeper daughter, Shelly Rasmussen, as his typist/transcriptionist. Shelly is staying with her mother as a respite from her husband. Susan Burling, a rising artist in the New York cultural world, meets Thomas Hudson, the editor of Scribner's magazine, with whom she develops a fast friendship as important to her as her friendship with Augusta.
The Character Lyman Ward takes a very critical look at his problems with being disabled, his family, and himself. He writes from his grandparents’ home in Grass Valley, California. He wants to live and put his life together the same way his grandparents did which was by overcoming different obstacles of the present life by making something more currents of their older lives. His son who cares deeply for him visits Lyman Ward. His son doesn’t like that his father is in a very lonely living environment. Lyman thinks that his loneliness and his pursuit for meaning are the effects of his family heritage that have become part of his life. He also explains the dissimilarity between his grandparents. He explains how Susan Ward years for the sections of her life that have vanished and he portrays Oliver Ward as somebody who always looked at the future.
Angle of Repose: Book 2
Living with Oliver Ward seems to be very strange and unpleasant. Susan is upset when she realizes her husband’s money issues and sees the local people as uninteresting and simple. But she gets over her irritation and moves along. She tries to help her feeling of separation by writing to Augusta and by working on her drawings. Later the chapter shows that Susan Ward is developing personally and capably. She becomes better at her job and has accepted the change that she has undergone even though she does not believe that she has grown. Oliver and Susan both reach a part in their marriage that trust is exceptionally strong and that they have accomplished a specific angle of repose. This shows that Lyman is trying to accept that his grandparents were happy at a time before happiness went away.
Susan Ward has develops different feelings for her husband and life in the west when she understands that her life will be full of difficulty. She is also shocked when her husbands company will not pay him for the money used on refurbishing their house. She then receives a letter from Augusta saying that Augusta’s baby died. After that, Susan realizes that she is so separate from Augusta and also makes her feel as if she is isolated form the rest of the world. Later, she finds out that she is bearing a child. After Susan and Oliver get over the fact that they are suffering financially and might not be able to support a baby, they become happy about the fact that they will be parents. Soon after, Augusta has a child that helps them feel better about the first child’s death and a lot of visitors come to Oliver’s home. It is a time of happiness for the Wards. Oliver then is given a $300 raise because his boss liked the improved mine equipment. After getting upset at Kendall, Oliver resigns and decides to go to San Francisco to find a job. Angle of Repose: Book 3
The reader is able to see a distinction between the attitudes of three different generations - Ward's pioneering grandparents, his own generation, and those of the young typist, Shelly. The tension between Susan and Oliver Ward grows as the stress of his profession once again threatens...
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