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The Stone Carvers Paperback – 20 May 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, 20 May 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (20 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747557802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747557807
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 489,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Jane Urquhart is one of Canada's best-known novelists. In her latest work, the sweeping and ambitious The Stone Carvers, she mines the depths of obsession as a source of creativity and of destruction, and the redemptive nature of art. Like Rose Tremain's Music and Silence, historical incident is the novel's leaping-off point. Written in the cadences and colour of legend, this richly imagined tale moves from the 19th into the 20th century and from Germany to Canada and to France to achieve an intriguing and satisfying whole.

In the mid-19th century young Father Pater Archangel Gstir is sent to Shoneval, a tiny, bleak settlement in the wilds of Ontario by mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. Gstir becomes obsessed with the building of an immense stone church for his motley flock, all of whom he draws into his ambitious plans. Among them is a wood carver, Joseph Becker, whom he commissions to carve a crucifix and Virgin and Child and whose memories of these harsh but fulfilling years are cherished by his granddaughter, Klara. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Klara carries on the family's traditions of carving and tailoring--as well as exploring the entrancements of new love. 20 years on, Klara lives still in Shoneval, now a spinster caught in the grip and illusion of memory, having lost Eamon O'Sullivan to the Great War. At Vimy in France, the Canadian architect Walter Allward, begins the construction of his vast monument to the thousands of soldiers who went missing in battle--and it is this that rekindles Klara's urgency to pay homage to the past and define her own future. --Ruth Petrie --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"it boasts a rich brew of character and incident and isn't afraid to tackle the big themes." -- Mail on Sunday, June 2002

'...it does exactly what a novel is supposed to do - captivates, transports and beguiles' -- Irish Independent

'A remarkable novel ... Urquhart is a writer of great intelligence' -- Scotland on Sunday

'Jane Urquhart has created a monument to monuments, of great beauty and originality' -- Independent on Sunday

'Wartime romance, lowlife adventure and modern parable ... Urquhart's prose is as smooth and uncluttered as Margaret Atwood's .. triumphant' -- Observer

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Klara Becker decided to live like a spinster. Although still young, she doesn't expect any more from life: tending the animals on her inherited farm, sewing clothes for the villagers to earn a little extra money, and burying the memories of love and loss, until... She is unquestionably Jane Urquhart's heroine in this wonderfully rich and absorbing novel about deep emotions, drive and determination. Set in the nineteen thirties, against the continuing aftermath of the most devastating historical event of the early twentieth century, World War I, the author by concentrating on intimate portraits of her protagonists brings to life the personal challenges ordinary people faced during these difficult times.

The novel is structured into three distinct sections, focusing in turn on Klara, her brother Tilman and the construction of the Canadian War Memorial in Vimy, northern France. Klara's character comes to life primarily through her own observations and inner reflections. The depth of her emotional being that stands in sharp contrast to her external "spinster" persona, is exquisitely evoked in Urquhart's lyrical language. The following quote gives a taste of it: "When one embraces a moment of rapture from the past, either by trying to reclaim it or by refusing to let it go, how can its brightness not tarnish, turn grey with longing and sorrow, until the wild spell of the remembered interlude is lost altogether and the memory of sadness claims its rightful place in the mind?..."

In this section, the narrative moves easily between the thirties and the late eighteen eighties when Klara's grandfather, master woodcarver Joseph Becker, immigrated from Bavaria to southwestern Ontario in search for a new life.
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Format: Hardcover
I read the whole of this long book in a single evening, often being moved to tears.
Urquhart weaves a wonderful tale of the development of Canada together with the Great War, the threads brought together with a deep appreciation of art and its ability to represent the eternal truths of human nature.
A timely reminder of the futility and waste engendered by war, at the same time demonstrating her understanding of the power of love in all its forms.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a favourite book because of the quality of the writing, the strength of the characters (they stay with the readers , even months later) and the marvellous tale of the way a community grows out of the wilderness, and how its history can permeate and compel an individual to seek his and her own destiny. I now hope to see the Vimy Ridge memorial before I die! Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove
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Format: Hardcover
The characters in this book come to life. The story spans nearly eighty years from the beginnings of a community in Ontario to the beginning of the second world war. We meet first a dedicated priest who inspires a Canadian village into life. The young man who carves the alters, statues and crucifix for his church passes his skill to his grandchildren and this is the story of how they use them and the story of their loves and despairs.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the book (have read it before) but was just a little disappointed with its condition. Was listed as "used-very good" but I think it's more used-ok rough edges and peeling along the cover, lots of creasing in the spine. Can't argue with the price though 0.01.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had been searching for a copy of this book for a while and could not believe my luck at finding a hardback copy at such a low price. The book arrived before the projected date, in excellent order and well packed; I am very satisfied with my purchase.
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Format: Hardcover
This is my first encounter with Jane Urquhart's writing, and I found the novel utterly enchanting. Beautiful prose and a page turning plot: Literary fiction at it's very best.
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