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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)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1988 New Canadian library
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once proud at arm's length, I became riveted! March 30 2014
By Carolyn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 page-turner: it is! I’m a gothic mystery, paranormal fan; seldom enthusiastic without a ghost. My marvel at this impressively-crafted book is absolute. It became a 2007 film. I didn’t care for it as a pupil. At 14, we find no adventure in hardship nor corporal punishment; though minor. This time, my eye caught stunningly astute, absorbing emotions.

The course I followed is that of a well-bred lady marrying a crass widower; angering her Dad. She is no shrinking violet, trapped or bossed around. We enjoy <i>‘Hagar Currie Shipley’s’</i> gumption; keeping a situation calm, or snapping back. In the early 1900s, here is a woman not steered by wagging tongues. For several chapters a compelling heroine, exquisite literary mettle, and Manitoba nature drive interest. <i>‘Manawaka’</i> is code for <i>‘Neepawa’</i>, my fiancé’s hometown and we laughed together at <i>‘Galloping Mountain’</i>. It obviously doubled for <i>‘Riding Mountain’</i>! A shift occurred by the time <i>Hagar</i> takes her youngest son to a city. Not only do the memoirs reach their peak. The page time of the elderly storyteller outweighs it. The 95 year-old version of our narrator is undeniably riveting.

As present day <i>Hagar</i> dominates, sympathy skyrockets. We are outraged her daughter-in-law <i>‘Doris’</i>, misreads <i>Hagar’s</i> competency so flimsily. We become champions against underestimating the elderly. Then an astonishing, fast-paced adventure takes place, that rises to a fever pitch!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Writing. Jan. 9 2008
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 pleased with the perspective it offered. It is a warning all young people should heed: You get only one chance at this life, make sure you don't spend it like Hagar Shipley did.

The writing style did not get boring. Laurence is a master of the segue.

What compelled me to write a review is not so much the book itself, but some of the other reviewers. One person wrote they were ashamed to be Canadian because they did not like this book and the author is Canadian. What nonsense! A piece of literature being good or bad is objective- it is not a statement on the validity of a nation. Give your head a shake! We should be proud to live in a country where people have the freedom to write and publish whatever they want- rubbish or not.

Read The Stone Angel. It made sense to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hagar Shipley Rocks Feb. 27 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. This is definitely a recommended read. For me, it is one of Margaret Laurence's best pieces of literature.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 18 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 Simply Stunning
I picked up this novel and read it by choice, so my experience was a pleasurable one unlike some poor saps who were coerced into reading it. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2007 by sainte-carmen
1.0 out of 5 stars Putrid Writing
I read this book in grade 12, before reading literature in my undergrad at university.
It's about a senile old hag as she stumbles around on her way for a medical test,... Read more
Published on March 13 2006 by Dano
1.0 out of 5 stars A book that is sorely lacking...
I read this book in one of my classes in Teacher's College and I really disliked it. There are few books that I dislike, but this one ranks highly on that short list. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by "englishteacher23"
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