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The Stone Angel [Mass Market Paperback]

Margaret Laurence , Adele Wiseman
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 14.95
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1988 0771099894 978-0771099892 1
In her best-loved novel, The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence introduces Hagar Shipley, one of the most memorable characters in Canadian fiction. Stubborn, querulous, self-reliant – and, at ninety, with her life nearly behind her – Hagar Shipley makes a bold last step towards freedom and independence.

As her story unfolds, we are drawn into her past. We meet Hagar as a young girl growing up in a black prairie town; as the wife of a virile but unsuccessful farmer with whom her marriage was stormy; as a mother who dominates her younger son; and, finally, as an old woman isolated by an uncompromising pride and by the stern virtues she has inherited from her pioneer ancestors.

Vivid, evocative, moving, The Stone Angel celebrates the triumph of the spirit, and reveals Margaret Laurence at the height of her powers as a writer of extraordinary craft and profound insight into the workings of the human heart.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The first of Margaret Laurence's compelling series of novels set in Manawaka, the fictional Scots-Irish community that Laurence created based on her childhood home of Neepawa, Manitoba, is also one of her most enduring. The Stone Angel is the story of Hagar Shipley. Cantankerous, cranky and often befuddled at 90, Hagar isn't ready to give up her independence and go into an old-age home. But she is trapped in a body that is betraying her bit by bit and a mind that overwhelms her with passionate, painful memories.

In this intimate accounting of her life, she recalls her privileged life as the daughter of Manawaka's only merchant, the rebellious spirit that led her to a miserable life as a farm wife, and the devastating death of her favourite child. When her son threatens to put her into a home, she takes matters into her own hands and seeks refuge in an abandoned canning factory. Hagar might be an irascible, vicious, and even vulgar old woman, but her feisty resilience makes her one of the most remarkable and appealing characters in Canadian literature. Laurence's first Manawaka novel, with its unforgettable portrait of old age, brilliantly sets the scene for the next books in the series. --Jeffrey Canton


“One of the most convincing – and the most touching – portraits of an unregenerate sinner.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hogwash! April 19 2002
Though I'm not Canadian, I too feel great shame for those Canadians who dislike Margaret Laurence and have no apparent literary taste. However, I find this book to be absolutely stupendous and absorbing. I have read it 4 times, and it only seems to get better with each read. I am not just saying this.
Never has there been a more realistic and likeable character than Mrs. Hagar Shipley, someone everyone should be more like. Her unabashed honesty is truly heartwarming. If this is not a feel-good story, then I simply don't know what is!! This is the feel-good book of the year.... This is no overstatement.
Yes. It is sad that people die. But if people did so with as much dignity as Hagar, the world would be a better place. And, no, I am not just saying that, again.
Why hasn't this fine novel---this vanguard story--been adapted into movie form? I see the unflappable Glenn Close playing Hagar--with courage and grace. She's divine.
Those who did not like the book likely did not understand its messages. Uninformed readers are the worst.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful Story of One Woman's Life April 29 2002
The Stone Angel is a book that I felt compelled to read--it is one of the most prestigious titles in the CanLit canon. Unlike many of the "great works of literature" I've read lately, this one didn't disappoint.
The Stone Angel is the story of Hagar Shipley's life, told in her own voice. Hagar is a ninety year old woman living with her son and daughter-in-law. She is rampant with memory. Her struggles for independence are interspliced with vivid recollections of her past.
The narrative voice of The Stone Angel is astounding. Laurence is a master of the simile and provides the reader with beautiful descriptions on nearly every page. At the same time, the narration, from Hagar's lips, constantly provides insight into Hagar and the people that surround her. At times, Laurence is able to tell you more about characters by their grammar than many writers are able to tell you in entire novels. Laurence has a particularly keen sense of diction. Her dialogue reveals mountains of insight about generations gaps, economic divides, and the walls that pride builds.
Overall, this is technically one of the best books I've ever read, and one of the most pleasing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book! Jan. 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first time I read The Stone Angel was in high school as part of the reading curriculum. Despite my English teacher's best efforts to ruin the book for us, I managed to enjoy it. I was surprised that a book with adult content (mild) had survived the censor's cut, but I was pleased it did.

A year ago I decided to reread the book and found it was even better than I my memory served me. Now that I have some life experience under my belt, I discovered the book to be far more moving and poignant. Margaret Lawrence brings out a true to life character in Hagar, the book's protagonist. Hagar could be your mother, your aunt, or your grandmother.

This is a beautiful, touching, compelling, and powerful book. Hagar's struggle with her own painful life memories as she tries to protect her independence and maintain her pride is quite heartrending. I found myself glued to page after page in this story.

The Stone Angel is the first book of the five-volume Manawaka series. Each book in the series stands alone quite well and is enjoyable on its own. I don't believe Lawrence had intended a series when she first wrote The Stone Angel, however, the books were there to be written, and write them she did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My comments... May 21 2002
By A Customer
In one of the reviews I read, it said something like "we should all be like Hagar Shipley"...well I disagree, 'cause Mrs.Shipley was indeed, without a doubt a sweet, loving woman however she was always set on what other people thought...I believe it doesn't matter what other people think (live a little) life is too short to concentrate on pleasing others so why not please yourself?
And she favored John over Marvin...when John became a drunk(much like his father) and Marvin became a descent man!!! (what kind of mother favors a child more than the others?) I know that not everyone is perfect...and that's what makes this book sooo realistic! The author brings out the good in each character but doesn't forget to include their flaws!
Anyway...this book was was sooo realistic...
I'm speechless, I really am!!! I definetly DO NOT regret reading this book...
I commend the author of this novel...Margaret Laurence, because of this book I'm going to find other books by Margaret Laurence!
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By Kcorn
As you can probably tell by some of the other reviews, this book will NOT be for everyone. If you're looking for a quick escape, lots of action or a strong romance, this is not the book you want. However, if you enjoy books that aren't your usual fare and are strong on psychological tension, this is an excellent choice. I absolutely loved this story of an elderly woman, a rather judgmental, cantankerous person. I like novels that show how a person grows and changes and I find slow change to be most believable and true to life, as it is in this book. Many readers may have found Hagar Shipley's life to be rather mundane, even dull. But I didn't - her marriage to a man she eventually saw as inferior and coarse, her relationship with her children, her desire to make a proper home and better herself - were all quite realistic to me. As she becomes increasingly frail and dependent on her son and daughter-in-law, she also comes to see her life in a different way. I won't reveal more but I do urge you to read this one and stick with it. Odds are, you'll want to read more by the gifted author, Margaret Laurence.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Once proud at arm's length, I became riveted!
Many of us bristle over ‘school textbook’ and ‘award-winner’. If you imagined “<b>The Stone Angel</b>” would make a good show of refinement but isn’t a five-star... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Carolyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Hagar Shipley Rocks
I read this piece of beautiful canadiana literature when I was in high school. The story is even more poignant for me now considering the fact I have aged significantly. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dawn O'Leary
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing.
Had to read it for a credit in school and found it boring? Maybe such readers cannot grasp anything that is not melodramatic. It is an astonishing book in so many ways. Read more
Published 20 months ago by poprich
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a great version
I was looking for an unabridged version, this is definitely not it!!!! This is a CBC radio version. For an English class it was not very useful.
Published on June 26 2012 by Erin
5.0 out of 5 stars Every man will cry
This is a powerful story. I read it in my early 20s and it helped me to comprehend the complexity of human relationships.
Published on Jan. 11 2012 by David Sabine
5.0 out of 5 stars On time, as expected.
I received The Stone Angel quite fast, with the product exactly as described. I would buy again without any doubt from this seller.
Published on Nov. 12 2011 by Annie
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, masterfully written, depicts the reality of life
Here is a book that I probably wouldn't have picked by choice. I read it for a university course and fell in love with it. It is a definite page turner! Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2011 by Lilieva
5.0 out of 5 stars Stone Angel
One of the best books I've ever read! I'm sorry I waited so long to read her books.
Published on Aug. 2 2010 by LenorB
5.0 out of 5 stars A Canadian Classic
The string of poor reviews motivated my review; makes one wonder whether this type of rating system has much validity... Read more
Published on July 3 2008 by B. Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Writing.
I, too, was "forced" to read The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence for my 12U English credit. Perhaps not a book I would have discovered on my own this early in my life, I was... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2008 by Veronica
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