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The World from Rough Stones (Stevenson Saga #1)

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The unforgettable first novel in the classic Stevenson Family Saga from epic master Malcolm Macdonald

John Stevenson is a just a foreman when a near-fatal accident bring young Nora Telling into his life. Her nimbleness of mind and his power of command enable them to take over the working mill and rescue it from catastrophe. Together with their friends the Thorntons-who are
Paperback, 586 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published 1974)
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(showing 1-30)
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I can't, I just can't. I love big fat sagas and this should have had my name all over it, but the regional dialect (Cornwall, I think?) is so heavily done I can't understand anyone. Examples:

"There's nigh on two 'undred 'n fifty bricks reaches from't invert up to't soffit an down to't invert on't other side."

Well, I at least know what a soffit is :)

"Shape thissen, lass. No jokin' toneet. It's make or break, see tha. If theer's five courses—nay, figure't cost per course. Allow nine inches to a
When this book arrived via Paperback Swap, my initial page-through hinted at a sickly aura of Tedious Historical Fiction. (Hey, it happens.) But for all that I thought I'd girded myself for a slow-moving, bloated, tough to 'warm up' novel, nothing could have prepared me for the torment of actually sitting down & attempting to read it.

I made it through pg 75 before admitting defeat. I'd rather go to the dentist than read this book. (No lie.) It's just that boring.

So what did I manage to slog
Oct 09, 2011 Jana rated it did not like it
Some men should never write about women. Malcom MacDonald is one of these men. He either writes them as crafty tarts with a penchant for killing small animals OR he writes them as insipid overly pure arm decorations for the men that lead them about and none of these women, even the one side character that runs the boarding house, are likable. In fairness, I read up to 100 pages so I did not finish this book. But I really couldn't continue - it was just hopeless. These are not characters. They ar ...more
Sharon Dodge
Jan 20, 2011 Sharon Dodge rated it it was amazing
I have no idea why I haven't heard of Malcolm MacDonald before. I don't know why he isn't the favorite author of many friends, and I don't know why discussions of Patrick O'Brian (Master and Commander) don't automatically lead to equally reverential discussions of MacDonald. His attention to historical detail, mastery of accents, gorgeous prose, and the ability to tell a real yarn sets him a mile above nearly every other historical author I've read. I'm dying to buy the next two books in the ser ...more
JoAnn Jordan
Mar 08, 2011 JoAnn Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about the fortunes of some very interesting characters. It tells of love, success, and personal agony. It is well written and brings one into the time of its setting with realism.

I enjoyed reading this book and give it a good recommendation.
World from Rough Stone is the first of the four-volume Stevenson Saga, written by Malcolm MacDonald. It tells the story of two ambitious but poor young people who, at the very start of the Victorian Era (1839) combine their considerable talents to found a dynasty and go on to fame and fortune.

This story is set in very early Victorian England from 1839 to 1841 against a backdrop of railroad building and and the economic upheavals this revolutionary form of transportation caused in it's youngest p
I'm repulsed by every character so far, and I get the feeling that relationships that took so long to set up are only going to descend into further misunderstanding and strife. Since I already hate the characters, I don't care to read any further about their pains and sexual bumblings. As if these things weren't enough, the dialect makes for tedious reading.

Maybe MacDonald was trying to show the seedier side of Victorian life, but honestly I'd rather read the Dickens or Gaskell versions of it.
May 31, 2011 Thisdaydreamer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, reviewed, kindle
The story of how John Stevenson and Nora Feller meet, fall in love, and build both a business and a life together, running parallel with the tale of newlyweds Walter and Arabella Thornton and their more troubled marriage. A fascinating look at the lives of both the rich and the poor in Victorian England.
This book was probably one of the most superbly researched and true-to-life novels that I've ever read. Which is probably why it got 4 stars instead of 5 - it was entirely too realistic and I was reading for escapism.
Jul 11, 2011 Elli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really a good book. Not really action packed, but more of a thought-provoking book about social mobility and situational morality. I liked it. I really loved the character of Nora and how much of a badass woman she was compared to wimpy Arabella.
Mar 03, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read this book was just after it's first publishing, almost thirty five years later it hasn't lost any of it's appeal to me. Malcolm MacDonald's characters are interesting and multi-faceted. I also liked the historic details of the burgeoning railroad industry in England.
Jan 15, 2012 Midge rated it really liked it
This is an interesting historical novel that I could hardly put down -- all 574 pages of it! Read the summary above to learn the gist of the book...I couldn't do better. I look forward to reading the second book in this saga.
Aug 10, 2011 Denise rated it liked it
I struggled with whether to give The World from Rough Stones two or three stars. I went with a three star rating since, contrary to what I've read in some other reviews, I actually found the characters interesting. Also, the story line has some strong scenes, including the near-fatal accident that is mentioned on the back. On the negative side, it takes a bit of "sticktoitiveness" to make it all the way through this novel. MacDonald has a habit of describing details of things like railroad equip ...more
Andrea Sachs
Mar 08, 2012 Andrea Sachs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is a quick read in spite of the number of pages. Lots of detail about railroad building in the 1800's in England.Rather raunchy, and almost a bodice-ripper, but I enjoyed it. I've read several of MacDonald's novels, and have several more to read, but I'll take a break from them now.
Karen C
Dec 24, 2016 Karen C rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I probably shouldn't say "I didn't like it" as I did not finish it. Just could not get into this book. I was very excited about finding a new series, but I did not like the way it was written and was struggling to get through the first few chapters. I gave up.
Jan 10, 2011 Barbara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
The World from Rough Stones is Book One in a trilogy following the Stevenson Family written by Malcolm Macdonald.

Another book that I found wandering around Chapters. It caught my eye and reading the back of the book saying, “Rich and exciting” from the Washington Star. “You can’t put it down” Chattanooga Times. Well, what does Barbara McKenzie say????

I couldn’t finish this book. There are only a handful of books I’ve never been able to finish and The World from Rough Stones will now be added to
Apr 19, 2011 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this novel with good intentions but barely made it through the first several chapters before realizing I was completely uninterested in finishing. This is a rare occurance indeed for me as I can read most books completely before reviewing them but this one just was a difficult read with no real offering of attempted plot. The dialect is heavy and the characters not well defined. I felt often as if I wasn't sure why I really wanted to know more about them. There just wasn't anything fan ...more
Sep 26, 2012 Rachel rated it did not like it
Very rarely do I not finish a book, but this is one of those times. I read approximately half of the book, and just stopped. While I applaud the author for using true "period speech", it was nearly impossible to understand, and even halfway through the book, I felt like the story hadn't started. Sorry, but really really boring.
Mar 01, 2011 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
I expected more from this book. I'm not sure why, considering the last few reviews have had the same feelings I had. I normally really like books with such lively characters but not this book. It was quiet hard to finish - and I think I ended up powering through just so I could start a new book.

Probably won't be reading any others by Malcolm MacDonald.
Mar 07, 2013 Eleyne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I chose not to finish reading this book. I couldn't get into it, primarily I think because of the heavy dialect. Ordinarily, dialect isn't a problem for me, but this is so heavy I found myself having to reread lines to discern content.
May 16, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too much work to get through this book. I stopped twice to read other books and then came back to it. I liked the character Nora but agree with other reviewers that in general, Malcolm does not write women well. I will not be reading the other 3 books in this series.
Sharon Bruce
Good story but a very slow read about a young couple who go from rags to riches. The British dialect is very hard to read at first. I will read the 2nd book in the saga at a much later date!
Angela Stone
Aug 21, 2012 Angela Stone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. I'm most likely not going to finish this book. Read for an hour and I'm bored. No engaging or likable characters. Off to find a better book!
Apr 25, 2011 Diana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this book had its moments, but it was about building the railways and lots of things I didn't understand too good.
Slow to start and was able to skip pages and still follow the story - vernacular difficult to wrap my head around, but still, I enjoyed it.
Nathan French
Jul 10, 2015 Nathan French rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read, takes time to get into, the language is a bit rough at the beginning, if you can get past that, it's a good page turner.
Jun 18, 2014 Zoey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting historically, but such flat characters! Lots of detail about engineering without the skill that makes the building come alive of other books of this sort (think Pillars of the Earth).
Mar 06, 2011 Patti rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be dry and not terribly interesting. I wanted to stop reading many times, but forced myself to continue on and eventually gave up.
Kelly Tarr
Jun 15, 2012 Kelly Tarr rated it liked it
I Liked this book, don't know if I will read the rest of the series, it wasn't that a man couldn't write about women, it just got good and then it got boring. I did like parts of it.
Jazmine Collins
Dec 04, 2015 Jazmine Collins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't with this book. I couldn't even finish this book. Not only is it boring as all get out, the overuse of the "dialect" is just awful.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jan 23, 2016 08:35PM  
  • The Highest Stakes
  • The Little Known
  • The Mudlark
  • Sunrise
  • The Homecoming
  • Beyond the Bougainvillea
  • Darcy's Voyage
  • A Secret in Salem
  • A Child al Confino: A True Story of Escape in War-Time Italy
  • Heart of Stone (Irish Angel, #1)
  • The Triumph of Grace (Grace in Africa, #3)
  • Whisper on the Wind (The Great War, #2)
  • Bridge To Happiness
  • Admit One: My Life in Film
  • Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Mysteries
  • Swept Away
  • Love Me If You Must (Patricia Amble, #1)
  • The Edge of Light (At Home in Beldon Grove, #1)

Other Books in the Series

Stevenson Saga (4 books)
  • The Rich Are with You Always
  • Sons of Fortune
  • Abigail

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