Stoner, by John Williams

Stoner is an American English professor, and this book covers pretty much his whole life (sort of like Any Human Heart although the books aren't similar apart from that). This was a recommendation from A Good Read where everyone liked it.

It took a while for me to get into the book - I think maybe because it was an American novel and I tend to find writing about American lives a bit harder to identify with. But Stoner is a very sympathetic character and you do feel drawn to him.

What's interesting is the paradox of whether you could call Stoner's life a "success" or not: on the one hand he seems to have been dealt a fairly poor hand, with a wife who seems to be mentally ill and provides him (a person with a romantic nature and emotional needs) with no affection whatsoever for most of his life; he loses contact with his daughter, who becomes alcoholic and unhappy, and he stands on a point of principle and gets himself in trouble with his boss at the university, who then makes his working life a misery for many years, and he gives up an affair with the love of his life for reasons which seem valid but leave you feeling a bit exasperated.

But Stoner doesn't appear to feel sorry for himself, or to blame anyone else for his misfortunes and at the end of his life seems to have arrived at some kind of peaceful acceptance.

It was a book that left me feeling better about things, even though I'm not really sure why.

Completed : 08-Mar-2015

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