Stoner by John Williams


Synopsis: 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.

I wouldn’t even know where to begin with trying to assign a star rating for this book!

I could go with 5 stars, because it is elegant, simple and yet engaging and emotive.

I could go with 2 stars, because it lacks pace, lacks excitement, lacks drama, lacks twists and turns.

Stoner is a quiet, contemplative tale that takes you on a gentle journey through William Stoner’s largely dull and uneventful life. He seems a man more swept along a course than a man who decides where he wants to go.

It is heralded as ‘the best book you’ve never read’, personally I wouldn’t agree with that statement but I do appreciate it’s simple beauty.

However, I did find Stoner’s weakness of character to be depressing and I found my mood depressed throughout reading this book with it’s frustrations and overwhelming sense of unhappiness.

Most certainly not an uplifting read; the futility of life and how swiftly it can slip through your fingers seemed to me to be the over riding message.




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