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Ancestor Stones

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  565 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
The author of the rapturously acclaimed memoir The Devil That Danced on the Water seamlessly turns her hand to fiction and delivers a novel that is a lush and beautiful portrait of several generations of African women. In Ancestor Stones, a young woman from West Africa, who has lived in England for many years, returns after years of civil war. The family's coffee plantatio
Paperback, International Edition, 336 pages
Published 2006 by Bloomsbury
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(showing 1-30 of 1,627)
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Jan 15, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Aminatta Forna when I read her memoir of her childhood in Sierra Leone as the daughter of a Temne doctor and a Scottish mother as well as the search for what happened to her father, who went into politics but refused to be corrupted and who subsequently disappeared. After the civil war which nearly destroyed the country, Forna went back to Sierra Leone to visit her family and research her father’s fate. It was getting to know the women in her father’s family that inspired her to wri ...more
Aug 18, 2015 Pequete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Gostei muito deste livro, as 4 estrelas são, na verdade, mais 4,5, faltou só um bocadinho para chegar ao 5. Está muito bem escrito e transporta-nos para África, através das memórias de várias mulheres, cujas vidas se cruzam entre si. Os contrastes entre europeus e africanos, contados do ponto de vista destas mulheres, são também muito interessantes, assim como a visão de África através dos olhos de uma mulher que saiu de lá muito jovem e estudou e casou na Europa.
Inge Vermeire
Apr 17, 2013 Inge Vermeire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een heerlijk boek. Het boek vertelt de geschiedenis van Sierra Leone aan de hand van de levensverhalen van vier Afrikaanse vrouwen - zalig om zo ondergedompeld te worden in Afrika. Ik vond het boek ook prachtig geschreven - vol prachtige beelden. Aminatta Forna is een nieuwe ontdekking - ik kijk ernaar uit om ander werk van haar te lezen.
Apr 06, 2010 Tiah rated it really liked it
Any story that involves the story line of a significant percentage of a man's eleven wives and their offspring will take some adjustment. I had to flip back to the family tree to keep track of whose who. But once I found the rhythm and began to get a feel for who goes where with whom, the story began to pull me in. By the end, I was in deep.
An absolutely beautiful book. I'm not sure what else i can say about it...stories through time, family, home, identity, change, love...
Esta obra é formada pelos percursos de vida, contados na primeira pessoa, de quatro mulheres da Serra Leoa. Abie é uma jovem natural deste país, cujo pai viajou para a Europa, o que fez com que ela recebesse uma educação de carácter ocidental. Embora visitasse esporadicamente a sua terra natal, acaba por adiar constantemente uma nova visita, devido á instabilidade política vivida no país, até que recebe uma carta de um dos seus primos informando-a de que herdou uma plantação de café do seu avô, ...more
I loved this book’s setup with its many narrators. I was surprised I hadn't heard of this novel before but am happy I randomly picked it up at the library. I really enjoyed it. I read this shortly after I read Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker and I thought the two complemented each other well (in both the format (interwoven short stories) and theme (both books focus on women attempting to reconcile their familial past) and I would think that most people who like one would also like the other. ...more
Feb 26, 2009 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ancestor Stones is a sensually and beautifully written character-driven story about five women from two generations whose lives have remained tied to West Africa, even though three of them have traveled far from home. Aminatta Forna does an excellent job of giving individual voices to each of these women.

Abie returns from England to West Africa with her young family to the coffee estate begun by her grandfather, a polygamist Muslim, who had 11 wives and more than 36 children. She is greeted by
Oct 08, 2016 Wangui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can still taste this book like a delicious morsel I am rolling around on my tongue and want to go back over again and again! Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed Forna’s Ancestor Stones this story of Sierra Leone told through the eyes of 4 sisters and spanning the whole 20th century from pre-colonial territory to post-war nation. Forna, in an interview, said she was trying to explain how the civil war in Sierra Leone came about; how many small actions build into a storm.
I found the book to
April Hochstrasser
Nov 03, 2009 April Hochstrasser rated it really liked it
I liked the stories of these 5 sisters from Africa. The fact that they all had the same father, but not the same mother was interesting. They all came from the same era, the same village, but their stories were very different. However, I didn't like how the book was constructed, with one sister's story in one year, then another sister's story about the same year. Then skipping ahead in years but going back to the first sister, etc. I got confused about whose story I was reading, what was the fir ...more
Jun 26, 2016 Tena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful prose, full of rewarding scenes and images, even if it does get a bit tedious at times. It's a story of what it meant to be an African woman at the turn of historical tides and of a courage to live your life. I loved Forna's storytelling, which successfully draws from the oral storytelling traditions of Africa. I wouldn't worry too much about keeping track of different perspectives at the beginning of the book, just let yourself be drawn into the story and everything will fall into pla ...more
Amy Baxter
Good book if you are interested in West Africa. Found some of the character plots hard to follow, mainly because of the rotation of characters between chapters, the different time periods, and as some characters had similarities between their life stories.
Reading this book made me feel nostalgic! I yearned for my grandmother's cooking and story telling by the hearth. The wording and descriptions in the book created a vivid picture of the past and most important of all the stories of emancipation of the women in the book, gave me food for thought!
Monique banner
Apr 09, 2009 Monique banner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bathime-books
This is the best book I have read in a long time. I absolutely loved it.
A warmth envelops this parcel of gems that is each story. As long and deep as it is thought provoking, a novel that can move you to laughter and tears in the same chapter. I entered this garden of enlightenment a stranger and left with a new family. Lovely in every way!
There's divination with ancestor stones, matrifocal viewpoints on the history and culture of Sierra Leone and endangered Paganism in the midst of an Islamic community. It should be fabulous, but not all the content was so interesting. I spent a great deal of time just turning pages looking for something that would anchor my attention.
May 26, 2012 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written novel which explores several generations of Sierra Leonean women. INcludes one of the most undernarrated themes around--women's political agency. Some stirring scenes in the book will stay with me for a long time--including one which the writer says is modeled after a true experience of her mother.
May 12, 2016 Judy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Picked it up at the Penn Bookstore
I have a feeling that my reaction to this book is very personal, so don't take this as a warning not to read it. It's set in Sierra Leone, which reminds me very much of Nigeria (where I spent four years as a kid). I found it extremely depressing, and have put it away, at least for now.
May 06, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great premise but disorganized structure that makes all the women's narratives run together. It's hard to identify with anyone, let alone keep all the names and dates straight.
Aug 16, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For I know what it is to forget who you are. To feel the pieces falling away. To look for yourself and see only the stares of strangers. To search for yourself in circles until you're exhausted. And I wonder if my story means something to you. If perhaps what happened to me, little by little, isn't the same thing you felt happening to you. The very thing that brought you back home." Utterly graceful writing, delicate prose interwoven with echoes of happiness and love, sadness and war, gain and ...more
Nina Chachu
Aug 26, 2012 Nina Chachu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely worth reading - for what it says about Sierra Leone, about its history, about its women, its politics. And for some beautifully written passages.
Nick Davies
DNF - not wholly because there was anything wrong with the book, mainly because I quickly concluded the book wasn't the sort of thing I'd have the desire to stick with.

This book was the chosen one for my book group, I doubt I would have picked it up otherwise, and I certainly wouldn't have persisted as far as I did otherwise. It's a selection of tales told by aunts of a central character about their lives in Africa (Sierra Leone, I assume), and to me it illustrates the mistake of equating 'exoti
I enjoyed this book, the writing style has a very lyrical quality. As you read through the various women's stories, you get a strong sense of their lives and their culture (where they find beauty and where they find difficulty). The book covers a long period of time (1920s-2003), meaning pre-colonial Sierra Leone through independence, then the civil war and post-civil war. I appreciate the fact that the book addresses these issues through the characters' stories, rather than as political or hist ...more
This story is set across almost 100 years of Sierra Leone's recent history, from colonial plantation days, through the initial hope of independence which was then dashed by a sucession of corrupt leaders, brutal oppression, mass killings and war. These events however, for the most part just form the backdrop to the recounting of the life stories of four sisters whose father had eleven polygamous wives and as a consequence the sisters also had a vast array of other brothers and sisters plus a myr ...more
Aug 04, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Aminatta Forna is like reading a bar of Cadbury’s dairy milk, delicious. (Other chocolate bars are available). Or if society calls me from afar and demands a more manly metaphor, it’s like reading a cold pint on a hot day. You enjoy and saviour every mouthful, not wanting it to end and after there’s a warm happy appreciation of what you’ve just finished.

The shadows are solid, sharp, small. A dog lifts it’s head. A nose swings our way like a weathervane, marks our progress for a while and
Oct 25, 2009 Marcy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about the stories of sisters. Although these stories are supposed to be tied to Abie, a woman who lives in England and is called back to West Africa to inherit a plantation, it felt as if, particularly the first half of the book, the stories were individual and unrelated. I wasn't making the connections between the stories until the last fourth of the novel. The connections are the stories of four aunts growing up in West Africa, living in villages before, during, and after the reb ...more
Dec 28, 2011 LiB rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very gripping. It is very much in the style of Amy Tan's 'The Joy Luck Club' - a group of related women give first person accounts of their lives, focusing very much on their personal relationships, especially with other women, with a touch of magic realism in the stories. These sisters are living through turbulent times in Sierra Leone, and the lessons they learn and the strength they find as individuals do not guarantee a happy life in a war torn country - a harsh truth that makes the book sta ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Toast rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it was the heatwave or ...... but I found this overlong, the central thread of the story was forgotten until the last 3 pages and the print a bother. Having said that the stories, the life experience, the attitude of the central 4 women was refreshing and vibrant. A whole new world was illuminated and I learnt so much. It is an early work of AF apparently, so I will keep my eyes open for more.
Feb 10, 2014 Jeanine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous writing style. Incredible rendering of sensory experiences accomplished through the written word. A gift for readers.
Explores the lives of women in West Africa amidst political unrest and ultimately civil war. Especially interesting if you've read Long Way Gone. Seeing the Rebel army through the eyes of these women and also knowing the child soldiers' story.
Heartbreaking. Important. Deep. Heavy.
Jun 10, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ultimately, not a memorable book. I enjoyed the idea behind the plot, but the execution left much to be desired. As a previous reviewer has stated, the machinations of the government are essentially glossed over, which is naturally frustrating.
Hilary Tesh
Abie inherits her family's history when she returns to Sierra Leone to the family coffee plantation which could be hers if she chooses. An inspiring book woven together with elegant prose.
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Great African Reads: September | "Ancestor Stones" 35 59 Oct 26, 2012 04:10AM  
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Born in Glasgow, raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom and now divides her time between London and Sierra Leone
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