Wallace Stegner has such a grand command of language that his novels are always a pleasure to read. One of the masters of contemporary literature, Stegner should be required reading for high school and college studies.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Stegner and it definitely won’t be the last. The story revolves around an elderly couple remembering a time in their lives when they came very close to parting.
The couple (Joe and Ruth) had traveled to Denmark and stayed at the home of a countess who was displaced from her family. Joe had kept a diary of their time abroad and when, twenty years later, they receive a postcard from the woman, it prompts him to dig out the old journals. Ruth asks him to read them to her and they spend several evenings reliving the past.
Old feelings are brought to the surface, including Ruth’s jealousy as she watched her husband become enchanted with the countess. Her suspicions eventually come to light and she is finally able to voice her fears.
It’s a wonderful story of enduring love, devotion and honesty. It’s also a tale of lasting relationships and the type of marriage many people dream of having.
Stegner wrote a sequel to “The Spectator Bird.” I haven’t read “All the Little Live Things,” but the description makes the story sound as if it actually takes place just prior to their trip to Denmark. Perhaps it explains more of the reasons why they took the trip to begin with. I’ve added it to the list of books I plan to read.
I give very few books a 5 on my ratings list, but “The Spectator Bird” is deserving of high marks. It truly is one of the best books I’ve read.