Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Mystery Ride is primarily the story of the marriage and breakup of Stephen and Angela Landis, a couple who purchase an Iowa farm in 1971 with idealistic notions about living in the country. The novel focuses on the events of 1987, eleven years after their divorce, when Angela decides to return to the farm in Iowa from her home in Southern California in order to help their daughter, Dulcie, sort out her teenage angst. Intermittent flashbacks to the late 1960’s and mid-1970’s fill in the background of the couple’s earlier relationship and their growth apart.
The novel opens in 1971, when Stephen and Angela decide to try farming in what seems the idyllic Iowa countryside. The farm they purchase appears perfect until they smell and soon discover years worth of trash decaying in the cellar. The trash must be removed and burned after the rats in the cellar are gassed, and in the light and heat of the fire, both Stephen and Angela think of their young love and its strength in overcoming this dirty job. That optimism is soon undercut, however, because it is the farm itself that will eventually define Stephen’s identity but drive Angela away.
The novel then moves to 1987 and for the next several chapters describes the current situations in Stephen’s and Angela’s lives. Southern California has been comfortable for Angela because her second husband, Quin Vorda, is a successful agent for screen actors. Angela has been working for a...
(The entire section is 967 words.)
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