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The Stone Carvers

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,306 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
In her fifth novel, award-winning writer Jane Urquhart interweaves the sweeping power of big historical events with small but very moving personal stories. Klara Becker is the granddaughter of a woodcarver in German-settled southern Ontario. She has a love affair with a brooding, silent Irish lad who then goes off to fight, and die, in World War I. Meanwhile her older brot ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 10th 2001 by McClelland & Stewart (first published January 1st 2001)
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Roger Brunyate
In Wood and Stone

For almost the first half of this book by Canadian author Jane Urquhart, I was thinking that it was one of the most entrancing novels I had read in a long time. Now having finished it, I still consider it a very good one, though it could not quite sustain the miraculous balance of its opening. This tells how Father Archangel Gstir, a 19th-century Bavarian priest, comes to a small German logging settlement in the forests of Ontario and establishes a church, adorned by the wood ca
Friederike Knabe
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
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
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like love stories, wood, and stone
Shelves: canadian

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
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
Mar 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was like:


But then it turned into:


Overall, I think this book was solid enough for me to actually want to finish it before the due date, however, I probably won't be picking it up for a re-read any time soon... or ever really.

I do think the novel could have been shortened by a good one hundred pages by cutting out some of the unnecessary plot points, and the extra fluffy descriptions of fields.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Srividya Rao
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-lit
Read this book to commemorate VIMY 100. Thanks to CBC Radio and Shelagh Rogers for giving me the nudge to pick it up from my TBR.
I think this book should be in the kit given to immigrants like me, along with books like BOOK OF NEGROES and THE COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS. They help one understand the soul of Canada. This book not only illuminates the beauty of the VIMY monument and the pathos behind it, but also beautifully details pioneer life of early European settlers, their dreams and struggl
Brenda Nystrom
I read this book because my daughter was reading it for Grade 12 English 30-1. I am thinking after some of the scenes in it that us parents need to monitor what high schools are having the children read. I can see why an adult book club might read the book as there is much that can be discussed as an ADULT. But I guess I am missing why a 17 year child would analyze this book in high school English.
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelsey S. Hock
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE (but especially those who enjoy historical fiction)
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 often find myself narcissistically 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 wa
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kat Evans
Love, grief, Canada.

"What she never admitted, not to the grey-haired man, not to herself, not to anyone, was that there had never been a waltz, there had never even been a declaration, that all the pain and delight she later thought of as dancing was made known to her simply by the expression on a young man's open face.

"Years later when he came at last to love someone, the memory of this night would fall like rain into his mind: the gentle tenderness, the sound of falling water."

"You kill off a
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this novel to the end and you will be fully rewarded. Deep and poetic reflections on the stones that come out of war; as monuments and homage and as a heavy weight we carry all our life in the aftermath.
Tracy Canuck
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another lovely book I appreciate Jane's writing
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.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful work, within the historical context of Canada and the First World War.
Mary Ripley
First read of this book. Story of a woman's independence when her sweatheart is killed in war. She enjoys being the spinster and learning the carving trade from her grandfather who intended to pass it on to her brother. Very moving depiction of the creation of the Vimy Monument in France.
Not what I expected, and I think it's more that than anything that elicited a "meh" response from me. I was bored, and wanted more of the woman's perspective. Not bad, and I appreciate reading about this time period from a Canadian's point of view.
Waterloo Public Library
One Book, One Community Waterloo Region - 2003
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
wonderful read. like older houses, the more one travels through the book, the more angles and parts are revealed. thank, Jane Urquhart!
Dianne Williams
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this book. Story based in my local area. Wonderful tie to Vimy.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything I love about Urquhart's writing. Well-researched history, lyrical characters, and a beautiful setting. She is among the best of CanLit.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many characters in the story, not all of whom are connected with the Vimy Memorial. But in the end, several main characters release their horrors of war and learn to live again.
Della Fuller
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story and illuminating look into the world of WWI and stone/wood carving.
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
"…their forebears slept beneath iron crosses that leaned at odd angles to one another, as if trying to establish contact after a long season of isolation and neglect." (p.6)

"Each occupation fed the other, making her life, ironically for a tailor, seamless." (p.38)

"She walked furtively over to the window, as if she feared she might awaken a number of unfamiliar ghosts or alternative selves." (p.86)

"To enter this cluttered space was to taste, for just a moment, the flavour of everything he had los
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Publishers Weekly has this to say about The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart:

"The bell-llike clarity of its prose initially masks the eloquent pathos of this Canadian bestseller by Urquhart (The Underpainter), which examines WWI through the experiences of siblings Klara Becker, whose first love, Eamon, enlists and never returns, and Tilman Becker, who loses one of his legs in the battle at Vimy Ridge in France. Their largely separate stories—along with the evolution of Shoneval, their Ontario farm
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
Steven Buechler
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 about Jane Urquhart...
“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.” 8 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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