The Stone Carvers begins in Germany with one Father Gstir a German priest who has the habit of annoying his bishop by interminably requesting a bell for his church. Deciding to get rid of the problem the bishop sends Fr. Gstir all the way to a remote location in the wilds of Ontario Canada where a number of German immigrants are trying to establish a community. There he meets one Joseph Becker a wood artisan and sculptor masquerading as a lumberjack. Over the years between the two of them they will build a church around which that community will come into being. Generations later the book refocuses on the two grandchildren of Becker--Tilman and Klara. Tilman is meant to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps as a woodcarver of altars and religious icons. Klara is meant to become a seamstress. Tilman has a wild streak--he is a wanderer even as a young boy sometimes disappearing for weeks and months. Tilman's mother finally convinces the father to take more drastic measures to keep him at home. He is chained to a bed out in the barn. It will be his younger sister Klara who will one day free him and Tilman disappears down the road this time for good. Klara had always wanted to carve as well and now by default she is given the chance. Her mom dying soon after Tilman's disappearance Klara as well continues to make clothes for the community. Several years later she falls in love with an Irish boy Eamon O'Sullivan. Eamon is a quiet boy but their relationship grows and in secret becomes sexual. And it is at this point that the First World War intrudes. Eamon wants to enlist. He dreams of becoming a pilot. Instead he becomes an ordinary foot soldier. Klara and Eamon do not part happily. Klara does not want Eamon to go and she will over the course of the next 20 or so years regret the anger of their parting because Eamon does not return--there's no body--no nothing. Tilman in the meanwhile has lived life as a hobo. Eventually though he hooks up with an Italian family in the industrial port city of Hamilton Ontario where he finds works at a stove factory or making religious statuary. His best friend is Giorgio Vigamonti and both enlist as well when Canada goes to war. Giorgio returns in one piece and goes back to the kind of work he had before the war. Tilman comes back with only one leg and for a time works in a factory making wooden protheses for other crippled veterans. It peters out eventually though and he goes back to begging. And then the Great Depression hits and there's no work for anyone. Tilman visits Giorgio in Hamilton. Giorgio has heard about a project to build a memorial in France commenorating Canada's missing from the war at the site of the Vimy Ridge battlefield. Giorgio has decided to go to France to work on the monument. Tilman having lost a leg there is not interested. Giorgio plants another idea in his head--to return to the family farm to see how his own people are doing. So after 20 some years Tilman finally returns home to find only his sister living as a spinster on the family farm. In the course of a few days they catch up. Tilman, one day, tells Klara about his friend Giorgio--and the monument to be built in France. Upon hearing that Klara who had never really shaken off thoughs about Eamon, decides she has to go and be part of it. Tilman is aghast at that thought but finally relents when he sees how important it is to her. She will have to go as a man. The last part of the book revolves around the construction of the memorial with much insight into its creator Walter Allward and the landscape, the tunnels, unexploded mines, the parephenalia lying around. One day several months after their arrival Klara gets up early to start carving the face of her beloved Eamon on a statue and is caught by Allward himself. Allward is outraged as he has his own precise ideas about every aspect of how he wants things to be. However finding out now that 'Karl' is in fact 'Klara' and then discovering the motive and that her work is excellent he relents and lets her finish--even lets her stay though the identity switch is over with. Soon afterwards a romance begins between her and Tilman's friend Giorgio. Anyway that more or less the nuts and bolts of it. It is an excellent read. Urquhart has great control over pace and draws a fine line between pathos and humor. It's not really historical fiction though there are elements of that here. In some respects it reminded me of my favorite Michael Ondaatje book 'In the skin of a lion'. Anyway I liked it very much and have no problem recommending it.