This thoughtful novel allows for genuine contemplation as William Stoner, an awkward farm boy, arrives at the University of Missouri to unearth within himself sharp facets of the life that will define his years to come: a love of literature, the challenge of teaching, the frustrations of academic politics, and lifelong friendship mixed with the regrets of loss. Stoner also finds a marriage shallow enough to reveal the sedimentary failures that lead this failed couple to active, resentful disengagement, lasting heartbreaking decades. Then, at its bleakest point, when Stoner's gentle life seems overturned by petty spite, the unimaginable happens and William Stoner falls in love. This is a novel with a still-room silence to it, but remains vital, emotionally engaging, and rewards reflection on the value of a life steeped in disappointment but not given over to failure. A beautiful book.