This is a hard one to review. While I was actively reading the book was pretty good. After I closed it for a while, I’d ask myself what happened in that last chapter. The answer was usually, “Nothing.” There were instances of nice character development, but overall it was rich Americans recount a trip to Denmark in the 1950s, where they met an eccentric, fallen countess that our protagonist may or may not fall in love with despite being married.
The ending is anti-climatic. With all the inbreeding and genetic experimentation going on I guess I was hoping for something bigger. When “the secret” came out it was just … Oh. It’s hard to understand why this novel won the National Book Award. The writing is good, but the story is mostly blah. So blah that I’m tempted to say what “the secret” is just to save you the trouble of reading it.
But I won’t.
Stegner keeps coming up when I search for books similar to John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. This is the second of his novels I’ve read. In both cases the stories just didn’t really go anywhere. I have two more of his books, including the sequel to The Spectator Bird. It’ll probably be a while before I bother with them, though.