STONE ANGEL

STONE ANGEL

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STONE ANGEL
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STONE ANGEL
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4.5 out of 5 Stars
1-5 of 11 reviews

The Stone Angel is very n

The Stone Angel is very nearly a perfect thing of its kind. Hagar Shipley narrates the story of her life as she faces old age and death. Told in a first-person, present tense narrative, her story reveals her character and the characters of the persons important in her life. Other reviewers have remarked that Hagar is not a likable character; she's not. She has been and remains a self-willed woman unable to get a realistic perspective on the world because of her focus on herself. I think that she is more like me than I care to believe. I can despise an egoist's cruelty, but Hagar somehow engaged my sympathy as well. I have certainly felt fury at the indifference of the universe to my unique person, and Hagar has spent her life refusing to accept that indifference. In hospital, dying of cancer, she finally is able to show and receive a little kindness which does not finally impinge on her indomitable nature. The other characters are drawn equally clearly but more sympathetically - a real feat since they are seen only through Hagar's eyes. This is a quiet book, beautifully written, and I'm grateful to have discovered Margaret Laurence.

I was first introduced to

I was first introduced to this book in high school where it was part of the curriculum. I didn't particularily care for it much at the time. I read it again in an English Lit. class in university and saw some of its finer point. I have since read it a third time and have realized what a wonderful book it is. Maybe it has to be read when the reader has had a bit more life experience. I think a certain amount of maturity is needed to really appreciate the imagery and nuances in this book. Not that I am discrediting the abilities of high-school students - I am speaking from my own experience. This is one of the best novels from a Canadian author ever written...maybe even number one!!!

First line: ~ Above the

First line: ~ Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand ~ I read this book after my 25 year old son shared with me his reactions to it. I figured anything that touched him in that way was worth reading. He did not lead me astray. I am a nurse and for many years worked with seniors and their families and am quite familiar with the emotional stress of caregiving and the issues around end of life decisions for medical care and placement in a care facility. And, 5 years ago, my mother died at age 83 after several years of deteriorating health. Reading the life and death of Hagar Shipley brought back many memories. My mother was considerably more likeable than Hagar but they both had a practicality, a stubbornness, a determination that enabled them to live a hard life and survive many difficulties. I was engaged with Hagar right from the beginning and found the writing to be realistic and beautiful. This woman reflects on her life from childhood, marriage, raising children, the death of one son, her challenging relationship with her remaining son and daughter-in-law and her basically unhappy life. I am impressed with Margaret Laurence's capacity to write realistic dialogue and to get inside the head of a much older woman. When Hagar takes herself away from the home she shares with her son and daughter-in-law and 'runs away' I want her to succeed, oh my, I want her to succeed but I could see that the story was moving to its inevitable conclusion. Even so, I was surprised. A wonderful read. I look forward to reading more of Margaret Laurence's works.

This book is the first of

This book is the first of the Manawaka cycle of books by Laurence. Probably most Canadians and maybe most other readers of Laurence's books know that Manawaka is based on Laurence's birthplace of Neepawa in Manitoba. Neepawa is a town I have driven through often and I have even visited the Margaret Laurence Home that is now a museum. I am ashamed to say that I have never visited the actual stone angel in the cemetary but I intend to rectify that soon. This book is about Hagar Shipley. Hagar was born into a well-off family in Manawaka and had many privileges growing up. After coming home from finishing school she helped her father in his store until she decided to marry a lackadaisical farmer, Bram Shipley. Bram was considerably older than her but still a fine looking man. Hagar had two sons by him, Marvin and John. Hagar and Bram never had much money and Hagar was reduced to selling eggs in town to former schoolmates. A proud woman Hagar eventually left Bram and took John with her. They lived in Vancouver where Hagar kept house for an elderly but rich man. This book takes place when Hagar is 90 with her reminiscing about her life and how her pride led her into difficulties. The epigraph at the front of the book "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." by Dylan Thomas could have been written especially for Hagar. I realized as I read this book that the story has Biblical underpinnings in the story of Hagar who bore Abraham's first child, Ishmael, and was then cast out. I'm pretty sure I didn't think about that when I first read it.

I enjoyed reading this bo

I enjoyed reading this book. It gave me insight into what it might be like to be in the latter stages of aging. However, it's more than just a story of dying, it's also about families throughout the whole of their cycle, and about class and race issues in a small town.
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