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The Stone Angel (Manawaka Sequence)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,240 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
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
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Paperback, The New Canadian Library, 328 pages
Published 1988 by McClelland & Steward (first published 1964)
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Gaspy The stone angel lacking eyes,is a symbol of Hagar's pride,stubbornness and unwillingness to see beyond her own view of the people close to her.
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19th out of 851 books — 819 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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BrokenTune
Jul 02, 2015 BrokenTune rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, canada
3.5*

The question I have is: Would I have read and enjoyed The Stone Angel if it had not been considered a Canadian classic and if a RL friend of mine did not highly recommend it?

Well, I have read it, and I can see why it is considered a classic. There is so much symbolism in this book, you can draw classroom material for years from it. And of course, it is always nice to read a story with a strong female lead - and you hardly get any stronger female leads than Hagar. Tho, of course, one could ar
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Barbara
May 01, 2014 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-reads
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I don't give 5 stars unless I truly believe that is what it is worth, and Stone Angel is worth the five and more, in my opinion.
Hagar Shipley is a character you will never forget; stubborn, ornery, proud, locked in her own version of her world and unwilling to see it any other way until her dying breath.
The novel opens with a quote from one of the best poems ever written;

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the ligh
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Nicole Yovanoff
Jan 22, 2013 Nicole Yovanoff rated it did not like it
I hated this book. I called it the 'Stoned Angel' because I think it would have been better if I were stoned on drugs at the time. as I told my teacher at the time of reading this book. "There have been women who have gone through far worse who aren't such b*tches." I could not relate to the character. yes, she had a hard life, but its hard to sympathize with her when she is making everyone around her's life just as miserable. Horrible boring read. Yes, its 'a Canadian classic,' but what does th ...more
Mmars
Jun 29, 2015 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like fine wine, there is literature that needs an acquired taste to be fully appreciated. This is one of those books. The story is as simple as a red table wine, but the intricacies of the writing set it in a class of its own. This is a story that has been done time and again – an aged and unreliable narrator recalling their life.

90-year-old Hagar claims to never have been happy and dislikes most everyone she’s known in her life. She will not accede to leaving her own home, in which she is live
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Larry
Jul 15, 2016 Larry rated it it was amazing
I love discovering an author whose writing I so thoroughly enjoyed. Such is the case after reading The Stone Angel, a beautifully written story about a 90-year old woman looking back on her life as she grudgingly adjusts to her final years.

Hagar Shipley is a delightful curmudgeon – witty, cutting, insightful, with a very human blend of both love and resentment for those closest to her. Describing a sister who looked after her ailing mother: “I always felt she had only herself to blame, for she w
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Sheila Rocha
May 24, 2012 Sheila Rocha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Feminists. Plains literature buffs.
A stalwart reflection of the men who shaped her is the resistant spirit of Hagar Shipley. The Stone Angel successfully provides a realistic portrayal of one woman’s life in the prairie towns of western Canada. However, the stone angel of this story was born, I believe, prior to even her own self-recognition.

Hagar says, “The night my son died I was transformed to stone…” (243). Throughout her journey, even as she faces imminent death and resists the mortality of her own body, Hagar’s mind confla
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Sarah
Jan 30, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Hagar Shipley doesn't have much to be proud of in her life. But as she muses, narrates and slips through time, I felt so drawn to her character. I identified with her in some ways that make me want to re-examine some deeply held assumptions in my own life.

Margaret Laurence so clearly "gets" human nature, what makes people tick and how easily we see faults in others, but not in ourselves.

I thought this book was brilliant. I can't believe it was written 4 decades ago... it could have come out th
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Becca
Feb 11, 2011 Becca rated it did not like it
This book creates a great conflict within me.

On one hand, it is exceptionally well written. At no point does the characterization waver, the premise is good, and writing itself is fantastic.

On the other hand, I honestly do not like the main Hagar. I can not stand her. I feel as though she is one of the characters that you either come to love or hate with no in between, and I am not one of her fans. I find her bitter, twisted, mean, and hypocritical. I had a difficult time reading the novel beca
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Hagar Shipley is one of the finest characters ever created in all literature, and The Stone Angel one of the best depictions of raging against the dying of the light. King Lear, Hagar Shipley. That's all one needs.
Krista
Oct 23, 2015 Krista rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, can-con, classics
Mr. Troy has chosen a bad day to call. The rib pain is not so intrusive this afternoon, but my belly growls and snarls like a separate beast. My bowels are locked today. I am Job in reverse, and neither cascara nor syrup of figs nor milk of magnesia will prevail against my unspeakable affliction. I sit uncomfortably. I am bloated, full, weighted down, and I fear I may pass wind.

I remember my mother telling me, with great delight, that my younger brother was reading The Stone Angel in high scho
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Wendy &
Apr 24, 2014 Wendy & rated it it was amazing
This is my favourite book of all time…Not only was she an amazing writer…but imagine writing a book about an old woman!! and it became a Canadian classic!! Apparently she held on to this book for some time after writing it because she didn't think anyone would care to read it…There is so much truth in this novel. Her descriptions of small seemingly insignificant things are so masterfully written that her words paint pictures that enable us to see the beauty in the ordinary..It is so much more th ...more
Jane Air
Dec 05, 2012 Jane Air rated it did not like it
I literally dropped my final year of English class because of this book. It was the most dismal, self-congratulatory, spiteful, misandristic, boring piece of crap I've ever tried to read. And no, I never finished it.

So guess what book we had to read a couple years later when I wanted to get my last English credit? That's right, The Stone f'n Angel. Strike two.

Thank you Margaret Laurence for this piece of Canadiana nobody really wanted.
Cassy
Jun 13, 2015 Cassy rated it it was ok
Maybe I would enjoy this book in 20 years, because it certainly wasn't written for spry 18 year olds. It reminded me of A Complicated Kindness, and not in a good way.
Summary: Prairie girl is raised to be proud and have manners and she keeps her stuck up attitude for the rest of her life, spiteful and causing pain to all around her, even herself. At the end of her life, she feels kind of sorry that she wasn't more joyful, then keeps on being cranky until the end. Stupid.
This wasn't the kind of m
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Terri Jacobson
Jan 30, 2015 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, canadian
I really enjoyed this book, published in 1964. It's the story of Hagar Shipley, a 90 year-old Canadian woman who survived the Great Depression. She looks back over her life and realizes that her pride and her sense of propriety have deeply influenced her relationships, and in many ways limited them. The book is written with sympathy and humor. I liked the repeated image of the stone angel. The book is well-written and memorable.
TheDenizen
Sep 23, 2011 TheDenizen rated it did not like it
Shelves: shit
As a Canadian high school student, I was forced to read this unpleasant piece of trash. A crusty old woman bitches about her life and how miserable she is. The end. Fuck you Hagar Shipley...and you too, Margaret Laurence.
Rachel
Jun 05, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If novels were colors Laurence's would be a spectrum of browns, earthy greens and maybe a few touches of lavender.
Ingrid
Oct 23, 2013 Ingrid rated it really liked it
There are some books that you have to respect, even if you didn't actually like them. That was the case of this book. I had to read it for my English class, so it's not a book I probably would have picked up by my own accord. However, I'm glad I read it, though I most likely won't read it again anytime soon.

This is a story of a life on the Canadian prairies on one hand, and growing old and the pains of age on the other.

Margaret Laurence has a remarkable gift. As my father so eloquently put: "S
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Dianne
Oct 22, 2011 Dianne rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This is my first Margaret Laurence book, a bit of an awkward confession for someone who likes to push Canadian authours on fellow readers. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. This is a great story, painful and beautiful and real. I think I have sometimes lumped all Canadian authours into a group called “Too Intellectual for Me” and as a result I have missed out on some great writing that I am only now beginning to enjoy.

Hagar Shipley is the main character, an elderly widow liv
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Catherine
Jun 10, 2015 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful! Will be adding a review later.
Michele
Apr 14, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing
Lu la traduction française...
Une véritable découverte! Incroyable comme on ignore tout de la littérature canadienne-anglaise ici au Québec.
L'ange de pierre c'est la somme de la vie d'une vieille dame de 90 ans, pas toujours commode, une véritable tatie Danielle. Une réflexion sur ce qu'on dit n'est pas toujours le reflet de ce qu'on pense ou de ce que l'on sent.
J'ai adoré.
Elizabeth
Apr 01, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Laurence is one of the best authors --- and most under-read -- in North America today. Her characters are deep and rich, and the story is beautiful. I know she is in the Canadian canon... just goes to show how much we must me missing in the States by emphasizing American authors.
Rachel
Mar 25, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
"Now I am rampant with memory."(p.5)

"It was not so very long after we wed, when I first felt my blood and vitals rise to meet his. He never knew. I never let him know. I never spoke aloud, and I made certain that all the trembling was inner. He had an innocence about him, I guess, or he’d have known. How could he not have known? Didn’t I betray myself in rising sap, like a heedless and compelled maple after a winter? But no. He never expected such a thing, and so he never perceived it. I prided
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Reviews of  A Shameless Fangirl
Mar 01, 2016 Reviews of A Shameless Fangirl rated it really liked it
It's so weird to have a book you love with a protagonist that you hate! Hagar is literally the worst. She believes that in order to be strong she has to be cruel. I think it's such an unfortunate reality for many women. If we look throughout history female Monarchs and leaders have been some of the harshest, cruelest most bloodthirsty leaders. There is this ideal that you must prove yourself in such a way to earn not only respect, but fear. As if the two are hand in hand.

Mary I, Elizabeth I, Cl
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Heather(Gibby)
Dec 15, 2015 Heather(Gibby) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-author
I believe this is the first reread of a book I have ever done. There are so many books out there, why read something again?

I originally read this book in University when I was 19 years old. It was for a class on aging.
My only real memory of the book was that it was about an old lady who complained a lot.

My Goodreads Group chose this book as their "Manitoba Read" for the month of June, and as I am one of only a few members actually from Manitoba, I really felt I should participate, thus breaki
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Ron
Mar 13, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: frontier-fiction
Reading this novel about a 95-year-old woman from a prairie town in Manitoba, I kept thinking of how seldom frontier fiction tells the stories of frontier women. The genre has so long relegated them to the sidelines of action-adventure stories about men, it seems not even odd to find them mostly missing from the panoramic narrative of the West.

Hagar Currie in Margaret Laurence’s novel shows what it might have been like to enrich that picture with stories reflecting lives actually lived by women
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Rosana
Jul 03, 2013 Rosana rated it liked it
I confess that I didn’t like this book that much. The 3 stars are there because I do recognize the literary merits of Laurence’s writing. Actually her character development is also very good. But I had such a dislike for Hagar, the main character that it impeded any enjoyment of the book.

I have before read books where I found the writing lacking, and yet I liked the story and characters. I have been left after reading such books with the sad feeling that the story had deserved a better writer.
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Rebecca Waters
May 26, 2014 Rebecca Waters rated it really liked it
I have decided you must be of a certain age to appreciate Stone Angel. I must have reached that age. I love the way Margaret Laurence takes the reader inside the head of an aging woman. She's crusty and set in her ways…but at her age I might be, too. I'm beginning to see the elderly in a different light. The book only enhances the notion that we become the people we are because of our life experiences and we often misunderstand people around us. I know this is a classic in Canada, but new to me. ...more
Carol Kosse
Jun 02, 2013 Carol Kosse rated it it was amazing
Wow! How have I not heard of Margaret Laurence before? A modern classic, indeed. This is one beautifully written novel. My copy (virago, 1987) also includes a very good afterward by Sara Maitland so make sure your copy has this if you purchase it. I agree completely with her thoughts about the novel but could never communicate it as well.

If you feel you can only read 1 book this summer about a strong willed old person reflecting back on his/her life, do yourself a favour and choose this instead
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C.
Mar 30, 2014 C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many of us bristle over ‘school textbook’ and ‘award-winner’. If you imagined “The Stone Angel” 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 emot ...more
Laura
At close to ninety years of age, Hagar Shipley is struggling to maintain some control over her own existence. Always a stubborn, proud, and driven woman, Hagar has not changed or mellowed with age. In fact, she believes that the idea that extreme old age changes who we are was created by younger people who are "somehow comforted by the picture of old ladies feeding like docile rabbits on the lettuce leaves of other times". Instead of peacefully existing in her memories, Hagar struggles to mainta ...more
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Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss on July 18, 1926 in the prairie town of Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. Both of her parents passed away in her childhood, and Laurence was raised by her aunt and maternal grandfather.

Laurence decided in childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began writing stories in elementary school. Her professional writing career began in 1943 with a job at the
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More about Margaret Laurence...

Other Books in the Series

Manawaka Sequence (5 books)
  • A Jest of God
  • The Fire-Dwellers
  • A Bird in the House
  • The Diviners

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“Too bad to deprive them, but if a person doesn't look after herself in this world, no one else is likely to.” 10 likes
“I can't change what's happened to me in my life, or make what's not occurred take place. But I can't say I like it, or accept it, or believe it's for the best. I don't and never shall, not even if I'm damned for it.” 10 likes
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