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William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.

John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.

Book Reviews

Average rating
4.2 / 5
Well written but awful
August 24th, 2015
A depressing read. One of those books that describe an awful life so well that one literally feels utterly miserable when the book is finished. A main character who is doomed from the start and who does nothing to escape from the prison he himself, through circumstance, has created. Petty lives, petty people, it made me want to cry for a wasted life.
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1 review
Excellent book
July 8th, 2014
This book doesn't pretend to be what it not. The simplicity of it make it so good. The way it describe life of a human being make you feel it all the way through his life with all the ups and downs. The last two chapters were the best! The pain on the one hand and tranquility on other could make me cry. I solute the writer for ending it the way it is - sometimes life is not fantasy and things we want just not happening.
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1 review

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