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The Stone Carvers [Paperback]

Jane Urquhart
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 24 2010
Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

From the Hardcover edition.

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“The Great Canadian Novel.…An epic portrait of a nation’s birth.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Breathtaking. By the end of the book, Urquhart’s message about the inexorable human need to remember seems almost set in stone.”

“Magnificent.…A spellbinding tale.…”
Independent (U.K.)

“This book is not just delightful, but essential.…Extraordinarily rewarding.”
Globe and Mail

The Observer (U.K.)

“Sculptors are like lovers in this saga, awakening rock instead of flesh.…Urquhart powerfully evokes the wonders of stone and the carver’s art, always linking them to the human body.…The novel’s moving promise [is] that, if we are true to our gifts, we can at least strike a brief form from the obdurate stone of our fate.”

“Superb.…Urquhart clusters together momentous philosophical sentiments on such issues as aesthetics, mortality and memory in an epic prose that sweeps as far and wide as the Canadian geography.… She is a gifted storyteller.…[She] also writes of the most heart-rending ironies that have become part of our collective past.…Ultimately, Urquhart’s story, which is at once a romance drama, war epic and trail-blazing story of pioneers, speaks of the small actions – like the minute movements that make up the stone cutter’s craft – taken by individuals in the past that make our own future possible.”
Ottawa Citizen

“[Urquhart] has a mesmerizing ability to animate the past, calling up events and eras with extraordinary clarity and imbuing them with wonder and marvel.”
Quill & Quire

The Stone Carvers has the immediacy and wisdom of a folk tale.…Urquhart renders the texture and colour of such objects so vividly that they stick in the mind the way memories from early childhood do.…For sheer exuberance of style, The Stone Carvers recalls the riotous paintings of Marc Chagall in which human figures, wearing expressions of calm delight, soar over villages. Although people don’t defy gravity in The Stone Carvers, miracles do appear.… [The Stone Carvers] offers total enchantment.”
National Post

“A story with its own strong momentum, and undoubted emotional power.…”
Toronto Star

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jane Urquhart is the author of five internationally acclaimed novels: The Whirlpool, which received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France; Changing Heaven; Away, which won the Trillium Award and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, which won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and The Stone Carvers, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize and for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass, and three books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace, False Shuffles, and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan (I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan were published together in 2000 in a one-volume collector’s edition entitled Some Other Garden). Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, and has been named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. She was also the 2003 recipient of Alberta's Bob Edwards Award.

Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia.

Jane Urquhart was born in Little Long Lac, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto. She now lives outside of Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a cousin who knew I was planning to visit Normandy this Spring.

Though I felt that the story started off a bit slow, I found myself unable to put the book down for any length of time. In a few short weeks, my husband and I will be visiting Vimy and many of the surrounding monuments and war cemeteries. I chose to write this review before our visit, so as not to dilute its contents with my own review of the Monument itself.
The story is touching and relevant, especially to those of us whose kin fought in Normandy during either or both WWI and WWII. The story also has a special link those of us living in Ontario...but I'll let the other readers find out for themselves...

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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read Nov. 18 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fascinating book well written, loved the characters and it is about the Vimy Ridge memorial, now on our $20 note
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing, engaging story July 22 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having just returned from visiting Vimy Ridge, I had intentionally planned to read this book. I was thoroughly captivated by the story which Urquhart created in order to put a personal "spin" on the historical facts of the creation of the monument, in spite of the unlikelihood that the woman could have/would have been "welcomed" into the male world of stone-carving. That's the beauty of Urquhart's writing -- even when something is implausible, one is still drawn into it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring me to try new authors! March 1 2013
I'm writing this partly because I just wanted to thank the author, Jane Urquhart, for writing such a beautiful, multifaceted book. Recently I've been re-reading the same books over and over again, or finding beloved authors and reading as many of their novels as I can, but finding this book reminded me that I need to get out of those ruts!

This book had several main characters to love and understand. She made interesting comparisons and even made me chuckle a few times. As the book went on I loved hearing the little imperfections about each character - and how each character went from being whole to losing something of themselves to gaining it back. A full circle. What a credit to Canadians to have this woman among us in Ontario!

Highly recommend this book!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Unforgettable May 13 2012
I read this book over 7 years ago and I still think about it. A sweeping, epic novel with characters that will resonate forever. The added bonus is a wonderful history lesson about WW2!
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