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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
29
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle Edition|Change
Price:£3.99


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on 12 May 2014
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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on 14 December 2010
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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on 13 April 2017
Brilliant brilliant book. Beautifully written.
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on 30 July 2004
Alan Garner, author of the classics 'The Weirdstone of Brisinghamen' and 'The Moon of Gomrath' among others, here writes four connected stories, chronicling significant events in the lives of various craftsmen and their families in Cheshire over several generations. The four short stories can each stand alone, but the recurrence of families, places and even people links them together, so that overall we are given a picture of change and continuity in a small community.
Crafts such as those of stone-workers and blacksmiths are described, as one generation passes on secrets and wisdom to the next. People's thoughts on God, war, industry and other social issues are dealt with in passing, as the characters go about their lives.
A gentle but profound book, chronicling a place and an era, and showing beautifully how children move into the adult world as they learn the wisdom and the skills of their elders.
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on 16 April 2009
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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on 7 January 2005
Alan Garner is very much the precursor of the current cross-over authors like Pullman and Haddon, but is still mystifyingly pigeonholed as a children's writer. Yes the lovely Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Elidor and Moon of Gomrath are classic books for 9-11 year olds, but everything he has written since the spooky Owl Service has become more complex and elusive.
The Stone Book Quartet has to be his finest book and I would suspect possibly one of the major landmarks of 20th century literature. It is a book of awesome power and depth, particularly considering its brevity, but I cannot imagine the child that would read it willingly. This is adult fiction, superbly crafted, pin-point observation and deeply sophisticated. It examines the cumulative layers of human change over four generations of a cheshire family through an oblique lens. Garner's not a kind writer and unswervingly peels back the layers of frailty (and strength) in his characters. I love the Stone Book Quartet unreservedly for its poetic prose and its precision - but I would not expect a child to 'get' it - well maybe a 16/17 year old at a push. I tried to read it when I was about 14, and drifted away from it completely - fortunately I came back to it as an adult. I hope many others will.
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The book is set in England in the 18th or 19th Century, where people are working by hand on various Elements (Stone, Wood, Metal etc,), and brings out the magic of the relationship between Man and the basic Natural elements that are available for him to fashion items from.
The Stone Mason who is building a Church Spire - which is more than just a set of blocks of stone (and has the most terrifying passage for someone like me who is scared of heights - I felt dizzy just reading it!). The Black Smith working with Fire and Metal, and so on...
Very realistic but very magical at the same time - shows what we have lost in our TV society, where everything comes shrink-wrapped and pre-prepared.
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on 10 April 2014
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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on 4 January 2015
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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on 23 September 2004
I first found the book, believing it had a connection to the fantasy books I have read earlier. As I read it, though, I was not in the least disappointed!
Garner's eye for detail, lore and sentiments is as accurate as ever, bringing the four stories to life in a wonderful way.
The family, all working with stone, in one way or the other, telling their lives' stories.
It's amazing how close to fantasy he gets, while telling real stories, filling the pages with a rich lore surrounding to the lives of ordinary working people.
Take the sledge down the hill with the children, experience this great novel. I only wish I could read it again, for the first time!!
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