Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BOOK: The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

2nd Canadian Book Challenge; decades: 1960s

Laurence won the Governor General's Award for her novel The Diviners and that main character gets a slight mention here; both books are part of the Manawaka series (oh the wonderful things you can discover at librarything.)

Hagar Currie Shipley is an old woman coming to terms with her life. Her not-favorite son is arranging to have her put in an old age home, and she is looking back at her life, the decisions and actions that have shaped her, and the people who died before her. She's not a nice lady, she'd be what I might call a tough old bird. Lots of pride, concerned with what people think, but not aware enough of herself to realize that. Life wasn't easy on the prairies in the first part of the 20th century, but Hagar didn't make anything easier for herself. Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear.(page 292) She is so judgmental to everyone and thing around her that she forgot to just live and enjoy her life.

Laurence has described the aging process amazingly and I could easily believe this book was written very recently. The stone angel was the grave marker of her mother and is mentioned throughout the book and was a last minute, yet perfect title for the book as mentioned in the afterword by Adele Wiseman. This type of book, the old person looking back on their life, is a common theme in literature, but this book is very well done, and is not one to be missed. I just recently read The Stone Diaries and it is pretty easy to compare the two, even the titles sound the same! I think I liked this one a bit better. I'll definitely be looking for The Diviners.


  1. I am probably the only person in the world that could not get into this book... I should really try again someday!

  2. This is one of the first books I read to get to know more about Canadian Authors, when I moved here over 16 years ago. A movie version came out this year, that was quite well done too.

    I still haven't read The Diviners, but plan to.

  3. You should now read The Stone Carvers and get triply stoned on Canadian Lit.

    I loved the Diviners and Bird in the House. I haven't read this one but it seems to be the one everyone mentions. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. What I really like about books like this is that it shows younger readers that old people are the same, mostly, as they were when they were young, only older. Just as older people sometimes judge every young person with, say, piercings or tattoos the same, younger people often judge older people as being the same. It's so, so important that all of us, at all ages, don't lump people together for any reason. Great, great review.

  5. Oh, yeah, meant to take note of Mr Mutford's wit! :<)

  6. kaliana - different times can mean all the difference in how you read a book. There are books I've read recently I'm sure I wouldn't have liked in my 20s.

    teddy rose - What a great introduction. I can't believe I haven't read or barely heard of Laurence til now.

    john - there had to be a third book!

    nan - nice point. The understanding of what might be going through an older person's head, when the people around her were so frustrated with her, was so well done. How she slipped into her memories and then was confused coming out of them.
    John's a card!

  7. Kailana isn't the only one! I still haven't read it, I'm just not interested. However, I LOVE the Diviners, and I hope you enjoy it too. Also The Bird in the House, long ago, before I knew who Margaret Laurence was.....another good story, much more interesting than Stone Angel!


Thanks for commenting, so nice of you to visit.

(I'll try without the letters for a while - so please dont be a spammer! Let's try no anonymous users)