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The Stone Angel

(Manawaka Sequence)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  11,172 ratings  ·  499 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
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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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  11,172 ratings  ·  499 reviews

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Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I was nine-years-old my only uncle lost control of his car on an icy road, and, after flipping several times, was thrown violently from his vehicle.

His mother (my grandmother) received a call that night that no parent ever wants to receive. Her son was in the hospital, was in very serious condition, and could she come soon, please?

My grandmother arrived at the hospital to find that her handsome, vibrant, newly-engaged youngest son was paralyzed from the neck down.

And through the years I hav
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Carol by: Julie Grippo
Shelves: owned-book, canadian
“Old age ain't no place for sissies.” ― Bette Davis

My mother died 27 years ago. She was in her mid-eighties. Unlike Hagar Currie Shipley, her mind was still sharp but her body was failing her in every possible way. She had diabetes and congestive heart failure; but, she ultimately died of liver disease from a tainted blood transfusion.

I thought of my mom so much while reading this wonderful novel. Mother bore her many physical afflictions with grace and also a deep gratitude for her family’s sup
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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: think again! I’m a gothic mystery, paranormal fan; seldom enthusiastic without a ghost. My marvel at this impressively-crafted book is absolute, which became a 2007 film. I didn’t care for it as a pupil. At 14, we find no adventure in hardship; although those aspects are minor. This time, my eye caught stunningly astute, absorbing ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
And someday I would like to write a novel about an old woman. Old age is something which interests me more and more- the myriad ways people meet it, some pretending it doesn't exist, some terrified by every physical deterioration because that final appointment is something they cannot face.... Margaret Laurence 17 March 1957(letter written by ML to Adele Wiseman)

First published in 1964, Canadian author, Margaret Laurence (often confused with Canada's other book writing "Margaret") tells the ta
Feb 15, 2013 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
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, canada

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
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hagar Currie Shipley is a prickly, difficult person. At ninety-years old, her fierce independence is butting against physical limitations; her intense pride has trouble dealing with reality. Laurence is not interested in making Hagar sympathetic to the reader and I have no problem with that. I did have a problem with the obvious symbolism, some clunky prose, and the especially clunky transitions from Hagar’s present-day thoughts to relevant incidents of her past.

The big reveal of how her younge
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2013, 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 sc
Nicole Yovanoff
Jan 22, 2013 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
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2020, jan-20
Read For Book Club

Hagar Shipley is one of the most memorable characters in Canadian fiction. Why? Just That - She is Memorable! She is witty, insightful, miserable and has both love and resentment for those closest to her.
- She puts her daughter in law Doris through the ringer on a daily basis and then calls her a flea.
- She puts June bugs in her hair because they sparkle.
- Her son picks her up in a horse drawn car because the engine is only to be used for emergencies.

I thoroughly enjoyed Marga
Hagar Shipley has earned the right to be curmudgeonly. Now 90 years old, she has already lived with her son Marvin and his wife Doris for 17 years when they spring a surprise on her: they want to sell the house and move somewhere smaller, and they mean to send her to Silver Threads nursing home. What with a recent fall, gallbladder issues and pesky constipation, the old woman’s health is getting to be more than Doris can handle at home. But don’t expect Hagar to give in without a fight.

This is o
Jun 29, 2015 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
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
When you live to be 90, you will end up seeing a lot of life and losing a lot during it. I came to this novel, a former school text in Canada, rather late in life, but I am glad I did, for it paints a picture of this country’s evolution from the late 19th to the mid 20th century from a woman’s perspective, and reveals the frightening aspects of growing old and insignificant.

Hagar Shipley is an unforgettable character; feisty, cruel, unrelenting and deathly honest. She loves her wastrel younger s
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
"Pride was my wilderness and the demon that led me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched." ♡
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible writing skill! She says more in a colloquial and sometimes brutal (within both its intent and its semantics meaning) phrasing than most authors crowd into an entire chapter.

Hagar not going quietly into that good night! What rage against a dying of the light is merely from years, physical condition and experience of a tired and frustrated 90 year old? And what was always there at 5 or 6 or 8 years of age? Margaret Laurence lets you know.

What I thought absolutely the most superlative i
Hagar Shipley is a mean, unappreciative, critical old woman, and I loved her.

“'It angers me, and will until I die. Not at anyone, just that it happened that way.’”

This is the story of Hagar’s current struggles, laced with her past recollections. As they unfold, we discover what has hardened her, and we grieve for the mistakes she makes. It’s a meditative story, one that makes you think about what makes people the way they are, and how hard it is for them to change once they’re made. We’re given
Sheila Rocha
Dec 28, 2007 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
Christine Boyer
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People dealing with the elderly, discovering Canadian authors, family ancestry
Apparently, Margaret Laurence is a long-time, well known author in Canada and this book (written in 1964) is a known literary favorite among Canadians (Robin, correct me if I'm wrong here! Just what I've heard). I can see why!

I've read several stories like this - older woman, reflecting on her life - regrets, highlights, etc. In fact, I almost gave it a 4 because it seemed so quick and easy to read and contained nothing necessarily exciting or new. But then I realized that was the beauty of Laur
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of me wishes I had saved The Stone Angel, a classic of Canadian literature, to read when I travel to Toronto in January. On reflection, however, I would have become so immersed within it that I would be loath to put it down. The narrator is Hagar Shipley, an elderly woman who is looking back on her 'quiet life filled with rage'. Laurence's writing is incredibly clever; despite the first person narrative voice of Hagar herself, we become aware very early on that she is having problems with h ...more
Jan 28, 2012 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
Jun 17, 2013 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
Jane Air
Dec 05, 2012 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.
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.
Feb 11, 2011 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
Wendy &
Apr 24, 2014 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
Jun 13, 2015 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
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classic
This is one of a series of novels featuring women’s lives in the fictional province of Manawaka Canada. This is said to be her most loved novel about feisty Hagar Shipley who is nearing the end of her long life. Her son and daughter in law think it is time for a nursing home but Hagar thinks not and escapes in one last effort to hold onto independence. It is here that she reflects back on her unhappy marriage, as a domineering parent to her youngest son and then as an isolated middle aged woman ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
It has been years since I read this - maybe 40 years. I have remembered it all this time. My library doesn't have other works by Margaret Laurence and more recently I have forgotten to look for her online. Fortunately, I was reminded recently because her work The Diviners is on the 1001 Books List, which I look forward to with great anticipation. ...more
Sep 23, 2011 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.
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful! Will be adding a review later.
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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

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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