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The Stone Carvers
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The Stone Carvers

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,478 ratings  ·  147 reviews
In 1867 a good-natured Bavarian priest, is sent by God and mad King Ludwig to the wilds of North America. Soon the backwoods are transformed into a parish and the settlers into a congregation, and Joseph Becker, a woodcarver, meets his future wife. Several decades later, Joseph Becker teaches his astounding carving skills to his grandchildren. One of them, Klara, shows exc ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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switterbug (Betsey)
Jane Urquhart has demonstrated in A MAP OF GLASS and THE UNDERPAINTER how a person can be transformed by the power of art and memory. The characters are sometimes made whole, or shattered, or both. In this fifth novel, her eccentric, parochial characters emerge from the harsh, often punishing 19th-century landscape of a pioneer community in Southwest Ontario and stretch to a modern monument of the 20th century. Her characters tend to be repressed, isolated, and sexually chaste, or go through a l ...more
Friederike Knabe
Klara Becker had decided to live like a spinster. Although still young, she doesn't expect any more from life: tending the animals on her inherited farm, sewing clothes for the villagers to earn a little extra money, and burying the memories of love and loss, until...

Klara is unquestionably Jane Urquhart's heroine in this wonderfully rich and absorbing novel about deep emotions, drive and determination. Set in the nineteen thirties, against the continuing aftermath of the most devastating histo
...more
jo
Nov 23, 2010 jo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like love stories, wood, and stone
Shelves: canadian
***SPOILERS***

this book is written quite beautifully. at first, i thought i had died and gone to heaven. after the first night of reading i checked jane urquhart's books and saw there were many. i felt saved.

and still do.

however, i liked the book better when it was all immigrants, wood carvers and large churches in the middle of nowhere. i could have read about that for weeks. weeks of a priest's waiting for a bell to be delivered; weeks of harsh winters on the frontier; weeks of breweries, proc
...more
Julie
Second ... no, wait, more like third reading. At least.

This is one of the loveliest elegies I've ever read about the First World War. Urquhart's writing is more poetry than prose: that precise emotion that goes directly to the heart, without getting entangled in intellectual wranglings. It is not something I ever have to think about -- I simply feel every page of this novel as if it enters my heart by osmosis.

Ultimately, the novel is a tribute for those who fought in World War I. Woven within
...more
Sarah
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial sits on a preserved battlefield in France where the Canadian Expeditionary Force took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge during World War I. The huge marble monument took 11 years to build and has giant human sculptures representing sacrifice, mourning, and strength and includes over 11,000 names of Canadian soldiers missing in action.
In Jane Urquhart's novel The Stone Carvers, we meet three fictional people who wind up working on this magnificent monument. Thei
...more
Krista McCracken
Urquhart does an excellent job of weaving family history together to create a moving story spanning generations. One of my favourite books by her.
Kelsey Hock
You need to read this book.

I'm serious.

This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read.

Often times when I read, I find myself thinking "Well I could've written this," or, "If I keep reading and writing, someday I could write a book like this."
But not The Stone Carvers.

It flowed so well. I can't even describe it. The Stone Carvers didn't dwell on the unnecessary or speed through the important. All events had equal time in their importance to the characters. There was rising action, a clim
...more
Roy
Reaching back to the nineteenth century , when a Bavarian priest is sent on a mission to the wilderness of the new World , the narrative takes place mainly in a German settled area of southwestern Ontario, in the years leading up to the first World War , and through the war years , and the subsequent Depression era when the world lost its innocence . The story of this priest , of the fulfillment of his extraordinary vision, becomes a beloved one in the village of Shoneval , and sets the scene fo ...more
Kate
Loved it. Urquhart has a descriptive and lyrical writing style that paints a picture of the story. I loved the depiction of WWI as told by those who were left behind and those who were left to remember.

I am fortunate to live minutes' walk from the Canadian War Museum, where 17 of the 20 casts of Allward's allegorical figures are part of a permanent installation in Regeneration Hall. This part of the museum is by far my favourite, and I have visited the figures many times. After finishing "The S
...more
Sarah
The Stone Carvers did not draw me in as much as I hoped it would based on the description. The plot is rather vast and follows several different characters, and the narrative changes perspectives from one character to another through-out the novel. We learn the story of Father Gstir, who built a large stone church in a German-settled town in Northern Ontario; Joseph Becker, a wood carver who made many things for Father Gstir; Klara Becker, the granddaughter of Joseph who learned to carve from hi ...more
Steven Buechler
Novels about crafts and craftspeople are fantastic ways to lose oneself in this busy world. This book did that trick for me.

Page 275
When Giorgio Vigamonti was twenty-five and back from the war, he had almost immediately gone to see his friend and employer, the tombstone-maker Juliani. Things were still prosperous in a city such as Hamilton, a place dedicated to the fabrication of various kinds of metal, a city that had almost more than anywhere else in the country benefitted from the increased m
...more
Andrea (Cozy Up With A Good Read)
This review and others can be found on Cozy Up With A Good Read

This is my first Jane Urquhart book, and I enjoyed the story but there were a few times I felt a little disconnected with the characters and the story. I could see how the switching of perspectives made this book difficult for some readers, but after getting used to it, I did enjoy the different stories and how they all connected to one another. The one story that really interested me was that of Klara's brother Tilman and what happe
...more
Maddy
Not sure what all the fuss was about, since the Ottawa Citizen or someone called this The Great Canadian Novel. I appreciated the southern Ontario local colour. However, I know enough to also be bothered by small things - did Tilman avoid, say, the Bruce Penninsula (pretty close to his hometown of Formosa/Shoneval) because he only travelled on roads? How then did he always manage to avoid Toronto, Hamilton and the GTA (such as it was in the 1920s)? What about central Ontario?

Overall, I found Ur
...more
Dianne
In the opening years of the twentieth century, Klara Becker and her brother, Tilman, are growing up on a farm in Ontario, Canada. Klara is learning tailoring skills from her mother and carving skills from her Grandfather, Joseph, and Tilman is a wanderer who can't resist the urge to follow the road wherever it leads.

Decades earlier, a priest in Bavaria, Father Gstir, receives a letter telling him he is being sent to a remote Canadian village to establish a church. There he will meet the young Jo
...more
rabbitprincess
Oct 01, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy WW1 fiction and tales of love and loss
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: boyfriend's mum
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dottie
No, I'm not finished. Yes, four stars even so. Just FINALLY reading this one which should likely have been read long ago. Thoroughly enjoying the story thus far and I can see the light coming at me through the tunnel and feel the tremors in the ground -- don't know when the locomotive will hit me yet -- just know this is going to be "one of those books". Sigh.

And it was. Oh, should I say there were twists and quirks, and plenty of character development and that even so -- it was the place which
...more
Katie
I tried this book while driving as a 'book on cd' and I found that I couldn't make it through... I was about 1/3 of the way through the book and I couldn't keep with it... There were multiple stories going around and I think that it was just too disjointed for me. Had I read it straight out-maybe it would have been easier and I could have skimmed over the areas/people that didn't interest me as much to get to the heart of the story-but as it was I became bored/frustrated with the slow moving and ...more
Tiffany
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Traycee Wiebe
Another great book with fantastic imagery and a pull-you-in storyline that had me turning the pages until the story had come to an end. I was quite caught off-guard by this book. I was only expecting to enjoy it somewhat and it, but instead it became one of my favourite books! I can hardly wait to read more from Jane Urquhart.

Some of my favourite parts were how the mother and father tied the boy in the shed to keep him from wandering off and the pain of his release as both a blessing and a curse
...more
Lauren
Nov 28, 2007 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history students, romantics
Now then, I actually had to read this as a part of my English 111 class in university. However, horror of horrors... I found that I really liked it! It wasn't a chore to read in any way, despite the fact that I had to read it's entire 390 pages over a single weekend. It held my interest, and had a lot of symbolism (so we had lots to discuss in-class), but it wasn't the sort of symbolism that only English teachers can see (you know what I'm talking about, AP scholars). This stuff, even I could pi ...more
Fran Fisher
A lovely book, sweetened with history and loneliness. After a slow start of beautiful prose and strange characters (the Becker family is ripe with the need of a psychiatrist), growing as if organic from the foreign soil in which they have settled, they find their spot and purpose and possible happiness. It would be a great book for a reading group--not even too long!
Shannon
I was interested to read Jane Urquhart's book and so pleased when our book club chose it. I ended up disappointed though as I found the characters to be 2 - dimensional and much of the storyline seems unlikely and there are long sections that are simply uninteresting or feel out of place. Some of the writing is fantastic but long-winded, side-stepping historical lessons reduced my interest in the main story. Overall, The Stone Carvers is a sad epic story of doomed romance, childhood abuse and st ...more
Mrsgaskell
Perhaps it was just me, perhaps it was jetlag, but I found this book boring and nodded off several times while reading it. It looked interesting to begin with – the building of a cathedral in a small Ontario town by a German priest in the 19th century. The priest enlisted the help of a young millworker who had been a woodcarver in the old country and their story was just the backdrop to the story of the woodcarver’s grandchildren, spinster Klara, and runaway Tilman. I didn’t find the relationshi ...more
Jean
I can't decide between a 4* or a 5 *, so I'm going with the lesser.

This was a beautiful novel of family and craft, stone carving, obviously, and of loss. I really, really cared about the characters, even though Klara, at the beginning, was not too likeable.
Erica
Since this book was required reading for my grade 12 English class, I was sure this book would be awful. In stead of reading in synch with the class, I went a head and finished it in 2 days because I could not stop. It was hard in the beginning for me to get into, the author is very wordy with her descriptions of landscapes. A lot of people find Klaras very brief love afiar when she was young to not be believable enough because of Eamon's infuriating silence. But I found it all the more engrossi ...more
Kelsey
One of the very, very few novels from high school English that I have ever felt like revisiting.

The pace is not fast - and you must be prepared to meander through time and space like a historian. But this story is one that works because you are made to understand all of its parts. It is also one of isolation, physical and spiritual, forced and freely chosen. In a way, the brother and sister who star in this novel carve out a small piece of Canada's history and set it before you to admire the fi
...more
Andrea

This story was an amazing journey and takes the reader into a time that was filled with loss and despair. The centre of this story is the art of remembering and how that is really achieved. I decided after reading some of this book to pick up books that shared the History of Canada in the various wars that were provided by the Government of Canada Veterans Affairs. If you are interested the series of books are entitled Valour Remembered. They cover Canada and the First World War, Canada and the
...more
Joe
I fear that my three star rating wiil be sen as a negative by all those who check ratings before they read stories. This novel was more a work of poetry than a novel, prose was beautiful, story: poignant. Just not exactly my cup of tea.
Kathy O'connell
loved this book - would post it as one of my all time favorites
I thought it was beautifully written, as well as interesting and full of tidbits that gave you a real sense of the times .
Sarah
There is a World War I memorial in France dedicated to the Canadians who fought and died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It is a phenomenal memorial that I never knew existed, and it is worth looking up. Now this book is a fictional story of a family that immigrated to Canada, and that story culminates in the carving of this memorial. The characters are intriguing with odd personality traits, the story is interestingly written but I didn't realize the depth of its presentation until the end. It is ...more
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She is the author of seven internationally acclaimed novels entitled, The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away, The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers, A Map of Glass, and Sanctuary Line.

The Whirlpool received the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Award). Away was winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Un
...more
More about Jane Urquhart...
Away The Underpainter A Map of Glass Sanctuary Line The Whirlpool

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“This was the way it was going to be then, this road she was going to have to walk. She would always be thinking of him so that he would be beside her even when he wasn't there, making her joyous or miserable, but always, always controlling the colour of her days.” 6 likes
“She knew she was a purveyor of costume, of disguise, a fabricator of persona, one who touched only the protective surface, never the skin, the heart. She was beginning, as a consequence, to envy almost everyone she met, to envy their small preoccupations, their carefully kept account books, the way they stood on streetcorners talking about farm machinery, the weather, the price of a bag of oats, fully connected for the moment to these ordinary things. Her connection continually slipped downstream, against the current, toward the swiftly disappearing past. What beyond the most cursory, practical knowledge of fashion, had the present to do with her?” 3 likes
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