Fiction Jane Urquhart The Stone Carvers

ISBN 13: 9780747557807

The Stone Carvers

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9780747557807: The Stone Carvers

In 1867 Pater Archangel Gstir is sent by God to the Canadian wilds. Soon the backwoods are transformed into a parish and the settlers into a congregation, and Joseph Becker, a woodcarver, is brought together with his future wife. Decades later their grandchild Klara holds young Eamon O'Sullivan in thrall as he sits speechless in her kitchen, suffering her anger and stirring her desire. Yet just as he wins this war of love, his victory is lost to the Great War in Europe, and Klara is left alone. But when an architect plans an ambitious memorial to the Canadian dead in France, Klara must use her family skills - to carve, to create and to remember.

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Review:

In her fifth novel, award-winning writer Jane Urquhart interweaves the sweeping power of big historical events with small but very moving personal stories. Klara Becker is the granddaughter of a woodcarver in German-settled southern Ontario. She has a love affair with a brooding, silent Irish lad who then goes off to fight, and die, in World War I. Meanwhile her older brother Tilman has literally snapped the ties that would have chained him to the family home, and vanished.

Of course, as in all great romantic epics, the two are destined to meet again. Tilman loses his leg in the war and experiences joyful belonging with an exuberant Italian immigrant family in industrial Hamilton, Ontario, before finally venturing home. Klara remains a spinster in her small town, sewing and working on and off for years on the figure of an abbess carved from wood. The novel culminates in the building of a huge stone monument to Canada's war dead in Vimy, France. Klara and Tilman are both compelled to visit the site of this insanely ambitious artistic obsession of real-life Canadian sculptor Walter Allward; both find that they have a personal struggle to overcome the past and learn to express love. Urquhart grasps her characters from outside and inside as precious few authors manage to do. She is, in her own way, a sculptor who carves a radiant and enduring tale from the elegant material of raw language. --Nigel Hunt

From the Back Cover:

“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.”
Time

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

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

“Triumphant.…”
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.”
Maclean's

“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

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