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The Stone Book Quartet (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – 26 Feb 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (26 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007204949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007204946
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘These books have far more than a story to offer. The final continuity in the stories, linked as they are by repetition of words and image, of places and people, is the continuity of crafts, practised over generations and leaving their products behind them. The prose is simple, concrete and direct, as clear as notes in music and as definite.’ Sunday Times

‘The Stone Book Quartet has an artistry that is nothing short of breathtaking, a simplicity that engages everyone who can hear the voices of the characters on the page. The use of metaphor has a diamond-like quality that makes us read his text as an exciting exploration of writing. He binds the reader to him and shows us the author working with language to make his book as his characters worked with iron and stone. Not a word is wasted. The episodes in each book stand out clear against the sky and landscape of Garner's north-east Cheshire.’ TLS

About the Author

Alan Garner is one of Britain’s greatest living writers for children, the author of such classics as ELIDOR and THE OWL SERVICE. He has done much to explore the disappearing beliefs and traditions of agricultural England. In 1996 he published an acclaimed and unsettling novel for adults, STRANDLOPER (Harvill).


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Here is Garner at his most jewel-like; four short tales that, between them, span four generations of his own family at Alderley Edge. Each is essentially a defining moment in the development of the child in the story. They start with the oldest generation, the master stone-mason who is building the local church steeple and young Mary who first climbs the high ladders and is lifted to ride the cockerel on the wind-vane at the top. She is then taken, in what is a rite performed by each successive generation, deep into the caves beneath the Edge to make for herself an amazing discovery - one that changes her.
Each story in the Quartet moves us nearer to the present, via the first and then the second world war, where we finally encounter a boy who is largely based on Alan Garner himself. His simple-yet-profound writing style is thrilling. He writes like a poet in love with words and the deep resonances that they conjure up. These are not myths and yet they carry the same power and weight of meaning. These are windows into a slower, less talkative, more reflective age. Knowledge was less but wisdom was more. We need the work of Alan Garner and this collection is among the very best he ever wrote. Highly recommended.
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This is perhaps Alan Garner's defining masterpiece. He has moved on from his early plot-led fantasies and in these jewel-like miniatures, almost prose poems, he has found a way to concentrate on language and atmosphere without being as impenetrable as his later novels.

Is it all about craftsmanship? Is it about continuity through the generations? Does it have to be about anything? To me it sounds like the voice of his native land, expressing what his people are. Sometimes I felt that a glossary would have been helpful, but on reflection it would have detracted from the immersion in the lives that he describes.

This PS edition (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) includes some helpful ancillary material, including an interview with the author and suggested further reading.
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By ab on 12 May 2014
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Alan Garner has written some of the most imaginative and magical fiction for young people of the past 50 years.

This is, I think, his masterpiece.

It is magical - but there is no magic in it.
Mysterious - but nothing mysterious happens.
Haunting - but there are no ghosts.

It is life enhancing, beautifully written, thought provoking, moving, enthralling ...

If ONLY they had kept the beautiful pen and ink illustrations from the original edtions.
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Format: Paperback
This is an intriguing and imaginative book, which follows four generations of the same family. In each generation, a child/teenager has a "defining" moment when they find or experience something which shapes their future. As always with Garner's writing, the interconnected stories are placed strongly in their place and time. Highly recommended.
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I have been working my way through Alan Garner's books over the last few weeks and this is the best so far of an excellent bunch. I am always intrigued by the Neolithic and what appealed most to me in the previous Garner book I read (Thursbitch) was the well researched use of actual megalithic stones, and other real geography, to underpin an engaging and dark fantasy and the fact that it did engage was amazing as I rarely like fantasy per se.

Considering the title of this book I was expecting much of the same. However while it starts with a possibly Neolithic encounter with a more modern age you realise by the end that the whole quartet can be read has having no fantasy elements at all. Also unlike Thursbitch it is an essentially upbeat tale. I wasn't expecting this to be my favourite Garner novel but it is.
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Masterly writing, a classic of young adults' literature which, like all classics, can and must be read by all ages. This is a generational family history, its leitmotif the craftsmanship and legacies transmitted over years (and over ages). It describes poignant to heart-breaking moments of contact between generations when something almost sacred is passed on or understood and something changes. Beautifully crafted, like the work it describes, the writing resembles a perfectly executed piece of stone carving. Economical to the point of obscurity on occasion, but 100 times worth the reread: the book yields more each time. I have read the Stone Book Quartet three times and expect to read it again.
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I love this book-it captures the simplicity of years gone by and leaves us with a strong sense of place and time. The stories connect us with the ancestors and the pattern and sequence of the lives of the characters could be echoed across anyone's family. Alan Garner expresses the presence of the past in all our lives and demonstrates how tied to it we are and how it travels with us, unseen into the future.
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