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.