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Stones for Ibarra

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,641 ratings  ·  289 reviews
Richard and Sara Everton, just over and just under forty, have come to the small Mexican village of Ibarra to reopen a copper mine abandoned by Richard's grandfather fifty years before. They have mortgaged, sold, borrowed, left friends and country, to settle in this remote spot; their plan is to live out their lives here, connected to the place and to each other.
The two
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 8th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1984)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,641 ratings  ·  289 reviews

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Mary Lynn Hendrickson
This is one of a handful of books that I always buy used in order to give away to people. What I liked best about it (as well as her "Consider this, Senora") as the poetic prose. Not too heavy, not too light. Not too flowery, not too sparse. Just right. Musical in a sense, but not obviously so. The kind of writing that's more a window than a door to help you see the beauty and sacredness that's inherent in "everyday life."

What I especially liked in "Stones," however, was the very artful way -- s
Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction, own
I struggled with the rating for this book, because it probably deserves 5 stars. However, I as the reader had a little difficulty putting everything together so that the lower rating more likely represents a deficiency on my part instead of a commentary on the book itself.

Nevertheless, this book is beautifully written, because the rhythm is very lyrical in nature. It's about a couple who move to Mexico in the 1960s to re-establish a mine that the husband's grandfather had abandoned in 1910. The
Daniel Chaikin
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
11. Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
published: 1984
format: 214 page paperback
acquired: inherited from my neighbor upon his move
read: Feb 20-24
rating: 4

Doerr's claim to fame seems to be that she published her first book, this one here, at the ripe young age of 74. She outlived her husband, who died of leukemia, and then went back to school to complete her unfinished BA and that led to here.

Gentle and atmospheric are two things I struck me initially on starting this. Richard Everton abandons his
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I always glance at the copyright page of a book, and in this case I immediately panicked. For the current challenge, I needed to be reading a book published in 1984, and the copyright started with 1978 (and then '81, '83, and '84). Sometimes the GR information is incorrect, but this was going to be beyond disappointing - and I was going to have to scurry around and find a replacement book. It turns out that the earlier copyrights were for stories published before the final publication of the nov ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
It feels like assigned reading for a high school English class. Like it is probably good for me somehow but I'm just not getting it. I didn't connect to any of the stories or characters. My favorite part was being done.
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I actually thought about how much I love this author when I picked the name Harriet for our daughter. Very nice voice in her writing.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author, Harriet Doerr's debut novel was published when she was 74 years old. She went back to school at the urging of her son, to finish her BA after surviving her husband and went on to become a Wallace Stegner fellow. She writes a fiction novel or novella from her experiences in Mexico.

The story is gentle and revealing of North American life compared to that of rural Ibarra, Mexico. Sarah and Richard, a couple in their 40s leave California to reopen a mine in Ibarra abandoned by Richard's fam
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grown-up
You should read this book even if it's not really your kind of thing. A couple, one just over 40 and the other just under, move from the Bay Area to rural Mexico to start up the husband's old family mine. The book feels more like a collection of short stories than a novel. The language is lyrical without being gushing and Jake will be happy to know that Doerr never dips into magical realism. There might be odd coincidences and an oddly humorous but sad bit in which an old priest is followed arou ...more
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-works
This novel is probably well worth a read. But I've read it, and even though I remember nothing about it, and it's short, I'm getting rid of it. (Now I wish I hadn't.)

It was the winner of the "American Book Award" (whatever that is) in 1984, so I probably read it thirty years ago. The blurb on the back quotes the NYT: "A very good novel indeed, with echoes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Katherine Anne Porter, and even even Graham Greene". Pretty good company!
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Lisa
Shelves: 2017-books
I borrowed this book from the library based on Lisa Roberts' excellent review. This is such a gentle, beautiful story about a North American couple moving to a small village in a remote part of Mexico to reopen his grandfather's ore mine. Harriet Doerr won the National Book Award for this descriptive novel of their life, surroundings and neighbors. Being agnostic in Catholic Mexico provided a background to the story as well as a framework for Richard and Sara's social lives. Richard succeeds in ...more
Jennifer Hughes
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this at the request of someone who has taught it for years and thinks it's all that. For me it was a mixed bag. The prose is elegant and almost deceptively simple. So why not 5 stars?

Each chapter is basically a stand-alone story. It's kind of a patchwork of all of these stories of different characters and situations and how they all come together to make up this small Mexican town Ibarra. Where I got hung up is that is that I never had the drive to pick up the book and see what was going
Shawn Mooney
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A delightful, unusual little novel, Harriet Doerr's debut when she was 73. A middle-aged American couple uproot themselves, moving to a small Mexican town to reopen the copper mine the man's grandfather had abandoned a half century before. The relations between the townspeople and the Americans are chronicled with lyrical, Marquezian verve. Most of Doerr's eccentric choices about what to put in and what to leave out were intriguing; the chapters that focused on the non-believing Americans's enco ...more
Betsy Fasbinder
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book...people I trust tout it as their favorite, but I just didn't. Perhaps it's the disjointed nature of the stories, but I just couldn't get involved with any of the characters. The writing has some beautiful little gems along the way--exquisite when you find them--but I'm not sure I found them worth the digging. Perhaps if I'd "gotten it" earlier that this was not a single story, but a series of barely connected stories, I might have enjoyed it more. I kept trying to tie ...more
Lisa Vegan
I really wanted to love this book, mostly because it’s the first novel written by an elderly woman, and I love the idea of late-life accomplishment. And I did like it, but I didn’t love it. The story was reasonably interesting and the writing style was okay, but neither really wowed me. But I know some readers think this is a wonderful book and I did enjoy it so I wouldn’t want to dissuade anybody from reading it.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The short story format of this book detracted from the fullest enjoyment of the writing, but the writing is so excellent and elegant, I had to give it a five-star rating. I move through Doerr's books slowly, going back to reread beautiful sentences and appreciate the subtle humor or irony. Perhaps it's in the back of my mind as well, that unfortunately, Doerr left us with only three books.

The book is a novel but it springs from the author's experiences living in a remote Mexican village with he
Lorrie Baker
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book that made me cry. That doesn't happen often. So beautifully written. If you have spent time in the desert Southwest you will be reminded of simple landscapes that are often taken for granted. This is also a love story of exceptional beauty of a place, a people and a man.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not as good as her other Mexico novel, Consider This, Senora, but a good one nonetheless.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Harriet Doerr finished her degree from Stanford at the age of 67 and received The National Book Award for her novel “Stones for Ibarra” in 1984 at the age of 73; talk about your late bloomer. From what I can gather, she did everything very deliberately and with painstaking effort. It’s said that when writing, she wrote little more than a sentence a day, meticulously crafting each sentence with the utmost care. And when reading her novel one can’t help seeing the result of her precision. If you e
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a lovely and quietly affecting book. Although some readers apparently found it too episodic for their taste, such wasn't the case for me. What I did find a bit unsatisfying was how shadowy one of the 2 central characters, Richard Everton, remains throughout. Arguably the focus of the book is his wife's anticipation of his death, and her efforts to prepare herself for premature widowhood. Nonetheless, the book would have been richer if the author had seen fit to deal with the contrast bet ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Stones for Ibarra is one of those books which should be read at least once in life. I thought that I will like this book as much as I like To Kill a Mockingbird or Frankenstein but I just couldn't. However, what made Stones for Ibarra a rediscovery of life for the Evertons was the division of chapters in stories of the people of Ibarra. If nothing else, Ibarra isn't one of those honest-to-God small towns in far off rural Mexico.

While the community of Ibarra, from the cura to Remediosa Acostas,
Phyllis Gauker
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is truly a wonderful book if you have any interest in other cultures. The story is about an American couple who move, sight unseen (except in old photographs), from California to a tiny village 80 kilometers from the nearest big town in Mexico to attempt to revise a mine which had been started by his grandfather. I loved the intimacy of the couple, his tolerating her making up stories about the people from the few facts at hand, her refusal to deal with his doctor's prediction of only 6 mor ...more
Tracy Staton
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this book right after Death Comes for the Archbishop, a very old book with a similar structure of short stories embedded in a longer narrative, and right before Sacred Games, a brand new book (up for the NBCC this year) with the same. All very different books, though, which to me shows the versatility of this technique. I loved, loved, loved the Willa Cather book and only really really liked this one, though, I think because this novel was primarily atmospheric. I liked sinking into its w ...more
usa couple move back to rural mexico to re-open their grandparents copper mine (shut down by the revolution of 1910?)
authors first novel, won national book award. she was about 60 when she wrote it.

about small town life in mexico, and ever present death, dancing with your melancholy self.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
I don't really know how to review this book, but I just say that I couldn't stop thinking about it. The main character came to Ibarra, thinking she could change things, but found that she was the one who changed.
Aug 20, 2015 added it
SERIOUSLY struggling with this book. One of the reviews says it's like reading a book assigned for high school english, and I can totally relate.
Debbie Zapata
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saturdaymx
Lovely book.
Mary Wallan
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it

Stones for Ibarra is an unusual novel in that the author discloses a pivotal eventual tragedy right up front, and with the characters’ knowledge. This gives her the freedom to focus on the inner life of the book’s main character, Sara Everton, an American married to Richard. The couple settle in Ibarra, Mexico to restart a mine once operated by Richard’s grandparents. The quixotic endeavor is warmly welcome by local residents for the jobs it eventually creates. The Evertons and inhabitants of Ib
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marriage, mexico
Harriet Doerr won the National Book Award for this book at the age of 73. Turns out it's never too late.

This book started out as independent pieces of writing for a writing class and Doerr was persuaded by an instructor to assemble it into a novel. For me, this kept the story from flowing as naturally as it might have had there been more of a continuous narrative. It kept me from reading more quickly. It is all excellent writing, though.

A California couple in their early 40's moves to the smal
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Doerr, like the Ethertons of her novel, also lived in a Mexican village for a while. The book is really a collection of vignettes and stories about the five years or so that an American couple lived in the tiny village of Ibarra while reopening a copper mine which once belonged to Richard Etherton's grandfather.

The first paragraph of the book lets you know that Richard "will die 30 years sooner than he now imagines." That condition is kept a secret from the village but weighs heavily on
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Began this on a snowy February day and finished it in one long sitting while listening to snow turn to rain. I was transported to Iberra, Mexico, the small town of 1000 souls, with Richard and Sara Everton who have mortgaged their home in San Francisco to return to a mine Richard’s grandfather had left 50 years prior. The Evertons are introduced to two phenomena: one the abrupt appearance of a human life on a barren landscape and the other a disregard for danger —“a companionship with death.” Th ...more
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Harriet Doerr (April 8, 1910 – November 24, 2002) was an American author whose debut novel was published at the age of 74.

A granddaughter of California railroad magnate and noted collector of art and rare books, Henry Edwards Huntington, Doerr grew up in a Pasadena, California, family that encouraged intellectual endeavors. She enrolled in Smith College in 1927, but transferred to Stanford Univers
“They have not considered that memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.” 17 likes
“It is something they will see everywhere - a disregard for danger, a companionship with death. By the end of a year they will know it well: the antic bravado, the fatal games, the coffin shop beside the cantina, the sugar skulls on the frosted cake.” 4 likes
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