This is a some what hard review to write given I am still unsure of how I feel about this novel. It is written by one of America's most famous authors, the sort you study at University. Stegner started publishing in 1937 although this book is from 1987.
There is a slightly old fashioned air about it, but it becomes engaging in a slow-pot-boiling kind of way.
Not a lot happens really, although it spans the lives of two couples who meet as young wannabe University professors (and their wives) and ends in their latter years. Their lives are intertwined right from the start, with wives having huge aspirations for their husband's academic careers, their children and life as wives within a close circle of a University faculty.
The Langs are very rich, the Morgans not. This shapes the friendship, it enables the Morgans to achieve far more than they hoped for. With it comes the control and wilfulness of Charity Lang, who plans and dictates a lot of what happens to both families over the course of their lives. She's irritating.
The writing is first class, the characters engaging and yet it took me ages to finish the book, as there was little compulsion to find out what happened in the end. I am sure the steady pace of the narrative and the beauty of the language will suffice for may people to enjoy it and I regard Stegner's utmost skill, but found it not a wholly satisfying read.