The novel tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home in the Sierra Nevada. Wheelchair-bound with a crippling bone disease, Ward embarks nonetheless on a search to rediscover his grandmother, no long dead, who made her own journey to Grass Valley nearly a hundred years earlier.
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was the author of, among other novels, Remembering Laughter, 1937; A Shooting Star, 1961; Angle of Repose (Pulitzer Prize), 1971; The Spectator Bird (National Book award), 1977; Recapitulation, 1979. Three of his short stories have won O.Henry prizes, and in 1980 he received the Robert Kirsch award from the Los Angeles Time for his lifetime literary achievements. His collected stories were published in 1990.