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The Stone Carversby Jane Urquhart
Synopses & Reviews
When the world was still reeling from the staggering losses incurred in the First World War, an unknown Canadian sculptor was raising a colossal monument in France, where so many of his countrymen had fought and died. Unveiled in 1936, the Memorial at Vimy Ridge still stands as a stark reminder of the more than 11,000 Canadians who gave their lives in France-and as a testament to the vision and single-minded obsession of its now-forgotten architect, Walter Allward.
It is against the backdrop of this incredible achievement that Jane Urquhart sets her intricately woven new novel. At the center of the story is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master woodcarver, who spends her childhood in a German-settled community in southwestern Ontario in the years leading up to the war. It is a childhood punctuated by tremendous losses: her mother dies of cancer when she is a teenager; her older brother disappears; and her brief but passionate love affair with Eamon O'Sullivan is cut short when he is killed in action. But Klara's inherited gift for carving will reunite her with her brother and bring her unexpected happiness.
In the tradition of Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong and Pat Barker's Regeneration, The Stone Carvers is vintage Jane Urquhart writing at the height of her powers.
"[E]xquisitely rendered, morally inquisitive, and intelligently romantic....[A] spellbinding tale....Urquhart orchestrates poetically dramatic adventures for nomadic Tilman and reclusive Klara..." Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"[A] moving novel....The panorama of WWI serves as a powerful backdrop...and gives Urquhart the canvas on which to depict mature, sophisticated themes....Urquhart's deft, poetic prose and psychological acuity make this a stirring look at one of the signal events of the 20th century." Publishers Weekly
"Intermittently clunky symbolism and occasional outcroppings of melodramatic improbability dilute the force of this otherwise impressive fifth novel....Not Urquhart's best, but another memorable illustration of her conception of the revivifying power of art." Kirkus Reviews
"Though at times the Beckers and other characters seem more like emblems than convincing individuals, Urquhart's tale of a talented but tragic clan will find many readers among fans of family sagas." Library Journal
"The Great Canadian Novel....An epic portrait of a nation?s birth." Ottawa Citizen
"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
A major bestseller in Canada, The Stone Carvers is set against the backdrop of World War II, bringing together history and art in a story both intimate and worldly.
About the Author
Jane Urquhart is the author of The Underpainter, winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction; Away, winner of the Trillium Award; Changing Heaven; and The Whirlpool, winner of Le Prix du Meilleur Livre étranger in France.
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