9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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! This local classic, of which I’ve been proud at arm’s length, became a novel I lapped up in two days. I’m awe-stricken by an author capable of weaving two vividly memorable threads, that culminate in the sharpest understanding. It’s a loss that <b>Margaret</b> killed herself upon a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2000
I just finish The Stone Angel, and I think that this book is very good. It touches universal themes of life. It focuses on the problem that everyone encounter or can related to. For exmaple, Hagar cherished one of her son more than the other, eventhough the son that she abandants is the one that actually care about her. And in the age of 90 she still can not see the irony of this. I guess we can't appreciate things until they are lost.
The Stone Angel also touches on the issue of understanding our parents. When Hagar was younger she rebeliuosly marry Bram, even though her father disapprove of it. She did not understand why then, why would her father prevent her from finding her happiness. But years later when her own son, John, want to marry a young girl that Hagar disapprove of. Only then she understand the worries of her father.
And for those who think a male high school student, or High school students in general cannot understand this book, you are so wrong in so many way.
I recommend this bood for all that want to seek answers or comfort in the journey of life.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2004
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.
on April 20, 2000
I found this book to be very depressing and I wish I hadn't read it. I heard about the book when I was taking a continuing education class on Canadian literature, but it wasn't part of our assigned reading. Since the teacher recommended the book so highly, I picked up a copy in a used book store when I saw it there some years later. So unlike some of the other reviewers, I did not have to read the novel for any class. Laurence uses the Proustian device of interweaving past and present reality, which makes the tale more interesting. The main character, Hagar Shipley, is 90 years old when the book opens, and she reflects back on her girlhood and marriage in a small town in Canada. It seems that someone dies on every page during the first few pages of the book. The story picks up later, but there is still enough tragedy and misery to sustain the downbeat mood. I can't say that the book was boring, because Laurence was able to maintain the tempo throughout without having the story drag. The author was not yet 40 when the book was published, so it's pretty remarkable how she was able to get inside the head of the old woman. If you're seeking a cheery, lighthearted tale, look elsewhere.
on April 9, 2003
I was made to read this book in high school as well, having said that, I loved it. Still do. In fact it inspired me to read more of Laurence's work. I have read EVERY Margaret Laurence book I could get my hands on. I was inspired to read all of her books because of the brilliant character developement she showed in the creation of Hagar. I mean I have never had such strong feelings about a fictional character in my life... Sometimes I was filled with sadness and pity, sometimes I laughed out loud, and sometimes, I just wanted to shake some sense into her! (None of Laurence's other characters brought out so much emotion in me.) In my mind that is what makes a book worth reading. I've made other people read this book too. They have all enjoyed it.
Perhaps if you are looking for something "fluffy" or light to read you would be disapointed and maybe it is hard for a teenager to enjoy a book about a 90 year old... but I loved it!
on August 29, 2001
I want to respond to all those who object to this novel because it is 'depressing.' While it is true that The Stone Angel is not a light-hearted, comic-book romp through the life of Hagar Shipley, it is an accurate portrayal of a dissatisfied woman at the end of her life, wrestling with phantoms of the past and realities of the present. Laurence's brilliant use of the unreliable narrator, as well as her effective manipulation of time and place, make this novel resonate with me. If the novel is upsetting, it's not Margaret Laurence's fault, after all. She gives a justified portrayal of a woman's life, and if we get upset because of it, at least her work has accomplished some form of communication. If you don't want to get upset by literature (being upset triggers active thought about how you relate to the novel!), then I suggest a lifetime subscription to O! magazine.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
on May 2, 2000
This was another book I had to read for Women's Writing. This is not really the drum I march to, but in all honesty, this is a superb piece of literature. Even if we think we do, we DO NOT live our lives in straight forward time. The way we see the present is influenced by our past, as well as our hopes for the future. Furthermore, our present can influence the way we see our past. The protagonist in this book has suffered as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a mother in law. She has a son who tries to be good to her, and she does make a friend now and then, but they can not help much. You must read this book slowly and carefully. This will reveal what events trigger her unhappy memories. You will also be able to see how her past thoughts make her see her present. This book should appeal to those interested in psychology.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 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.