The Stone Angel

Paperback | March 2, 2004

byMargaret Laurence

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The film adaptation of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, starring acclaimed actresses Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page, and introducing Christine Horne, opens in theatres May 9, 2008.

This special fortieth-anniversary edition of Margaret Laurence’s most celebrated novel will introduce readers again to one of the most memorable characters in Canadian fiction. Hagar Shipley is stubborn, querulous, self-reliant, and, at ninety, with her life nearly behind her, she 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 girl growing up in a black prairie town; as the wife of a virile but unsuccessful farmer with whom her marriage was stormy; as a mother who dominates her younger son; and, finally, as an old woman isolated by an uncompromising pride and by the stern virtues she has inherited from her pioneer ancestors.

Vivid, evocative, moving, The Stone Angel celebrates the triumph of the spirit, and reveals Margaret Laurence at the height of her powers as a writer of extraordinary craft and profound insight into the workings of the human heart.

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From the Publisher

The film adaptation of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, starring acclaimed actresses Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page, and introducing Christine Horne, opens in theatres May 9, 2008.This special fortieth-anniversary edition of Margaret Laurence’s most celebrated novel will introduce readers again to one of the most memorable characters...

From the Jacket

"One of the most convincing – and the most touching – portraits of an unregenerate sinner."—Time

Margaret Laurence was born in Neepawa, Manitoba, in 1926. Upon graduation from Winnipeg’s United College in 1947, she took a job as a reporter for the Winnipeg Citizen.From 1950 until 1957 Laurence lived in Africa, the first two years in Somalia, the next five in Ghana, where her husband, a civil engineer, was working. She translated S...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.9 inPublished:March 2, 2004Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771047088

ISBN - 13:9780771047084

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good message Not one of my favorite books to read, but it is written very beautifully with a great message. I recommend it to people who have ever dealt with a family member in their old age who are suffering in any sort of way.
Date published: 2011-04-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hagar is a B!tch, but it's not her fault. Margaret Laurence gives a big shout out to psychology and sociology in this book, but doesn't give the art of story telling as much of a nod as she does to the sciences. It took a long time for me to get through this small book. It did get me to realize one of my biggest fears: reflecting on my life when I'm old and finally realizing all my mistakes and their effects on me and others.
Date published: 2010-05-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Stone Cold Boring I really disliked this novel. I may not have been in the right mood but I would not recommend this novel to anyone. It’s a hard read to get through (and I've read 900 page novels). I couldn't relate to the main character and had no sympathy for the main character.
Date published: 2009-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Read! I just finished this book and really liked it. Margaret Laurence truly brought the character Hagar to life. At first, just a cantankerous old woman and then as you progress through the book, I actually liked her! Heartfelt, humorous and enlightening.
Date published: 2008-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly A Canadian Classic! Utterly Amazing! There are some books that people tell you are life changing, beautiful and heart felt. This is not one of those books. The Stone Angel is one of the most heart-wrenching and totally cantankerous books I have ever read. The heroine Hagar Shipley is incredibly unlikeable and is proud of it. In her memoirs, she transports you to rural Canada, on a ranch so out of time and place with the world that the entire earth is encompassed by the farmhouse and its oilcloth table. This novel is perhaps best at creating a sense of age, of oldness. Hagar has lived for almost a century and has remained relatively unchanged throughout the generations. Truly an amazing novel and a must read for anyone who considers themselves a Canadian.
Date published: 2008-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The greatest Canadian novel ever written The Stone Angel by Margret Lawerance is my favourite book just for the simple fact that after I read it, it lingered in my mind for days and days. A story of a old woman how she reflects on her life of sin and death. It's theme talks of how as people, we want to have honour and respect in our community, even when we don't deserve it. Also that we do not hold the right to tell someone what they can and cannot do and just because someone lives like a hobo doesn't give us a right to crush them and control their lives. An excellent book for discussion groups, school reading, anything. Arguably the greatest Canadian novel, with its contender more than likely being Life Of Pi by Yann Martel, but this novel offers something that everyone can relate too. Not the best novel I have ever read, but my favourite (along with Lord Jim by Joesph Conrad and The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald).
Date published: 2005-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from reread with a twist this book should be read with attention paid to the biblical allusions so that the reader can better understand the depth that margret laurence has given to the hagar character. when her relationship to bram is compared to the biblical relationship of abraham, sarah, and hagar, one can see how there is a depth to the novel that is unappreciated. there are more than a dozen allusions in this book that add to the flavour of the mix and are emotive of the author's excellent style of writing that carries the reader through emotions with the characters.
Date published: 2005-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Interesting Read Although today most would not be interested in reading about a 90-year old woman's struggles with walking and unsuppressed flatulence, this story is still very gripping, interesting and emotional. We are taken through the long life of Hagar Currie Shipley, her trials and tribulations throughout her childhood, when she was a teenager and then becoming a mature woman. The main theme of this novel is regret, which Margaret Laurence makes apparent through the use of limited omniscient perspective. A very interesting read, but not for people looking for a lot of action or romance, instead looking for a story about a woman who has been through more in her life than many people combined.
Date published: 2001-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One to reflect on An insightful reflection of a life lived, from the perspective of central character Hagar Shipley. The Stone Angel is a brilliantly written description of the events and emotions that a fictional average woman in the Canadian prairies endures through a life that unwinds in regret. Very real and extraordinarily inspirational, a "how-not-to ..." manual for living life.
Date published: 2000-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Stone Angel What a wonderful book for those with a sense of strength and individualism. We follow a woman named Hagar Shipley from childhood to womanhood, and then to her demise. Throughout her life, she encounters many trials and tribulations that make our character the strong-willed woman that she is. A story about true human determination and strength.
Date published: 1999-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stone Angel Laurence is considered one of the greatest Canadian novelists, and with this book it's easy to see why. Hagar Shipley is one of the most prideful, stubborn and egotistical characters around, and will definitely remind readers of someone they know (for me, my mother). Even though it was originally written in 1964, it isn't outdated at all. There's no bombs, CIA operatives or sexy romance in this novel, just one woman and all she has endured in her lifetime, and the family that has to deal with her in semi-senility. An excellent and absorbing read, despite the absence of a lot of action.
Date published: 1999-03-26

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet, in memory of her who relinquished her feeble ghost as I gained my stubborn one, my mother’s angel that my father bought in pride to mark her bones and proclaim his dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day.Summer and winter she viewed the town with sightless eyes. She was doubly blind, not only stone but unendowed with even a pretense of sight. Whoever carved her had left the eyeballs blank. It seemed strange to me that she should stand above the town, harking us all to heaven without knowing who we were at all. But I was too young then to know her purpose, although my father often told me she had been brought from Italy at a terrible expense and was pure white marble. I think now she must have been carved in that distant sun by stone masons who were the cynical descendants of Bernini, gouging out her like by the score, gauging with admirable accuracy the needs of fledgling pharaohs in an uncouth land.Her wings in winter were pitted by the snow and in summer by the blown grit. She was not the only angel in the Manawaka cemetery, but she was the first, the largest, and certainly the costliest. The others, as I recall, were a lesser breed entirely, petty angels, cherubim with pouting stone mouths, one holding aloft a stone heart, another strumming in eternal silence upon a small stone stringless harp, and yet another pointing with ecstatic leer to an inscription. I remember that inscription because we used to laugh at it when the stone was first placed there.Rest in peace.From toil, surcease.Regina Weese.1886So much for sad Regina, now forgotten in Manawaka — as I, Hagar, am doubtless forgotten. And yet I always felt she had only herself to blame, for she was a flimsy, gutless creature, bland as egg custard, caring with martyred devotion for an ungrateful fox-voiced mother year in and year out. When Regina died, from some obscure and maidenly disorder, the old disreputable lady rose from sick-smelling sheets and lived, to the despair of her married sons, another full ten years. No need to say God rest her soul, for she must be laughing spitefully in hell, while virginal Regina sighs in heaven.In summer the cemetery was rich and thick as syrup with the funeral-parlor perfume of the planted peonies, dark crimson and wallpaper pink, the pompous blossoms hanging leadenly, too heavy for their light stems, bowed down with the weight of themselves and the weight of the rain, infested with upstart ants that sauntered through the plush petals as though to the manner born.I used to walk there often when I was a girl. There could not have been many places to walk primly in those days, on paths, where white kid boots and dangling skirts would not be torn by thistles or put in unseemly disarray. How anxious I was to be neat and orderly, imagining life had been created only to celebrate tidiness, like prissy Pippa as she passed. But sometimes through the hot rush of disrespectful wind that shook the scrub oak and the coarse couchgrass encroaching upon the dutifully cared-for habitations of the dead, the scent of the cowslips would rise momentarily. They were tough-rooted, these wild and gaudy flowers, and although they were held back at the cemetery’s edge, torn out by loving relatives determined to keep the plots clear and clearly civilized, for a second or two a person walking there could catch the faint, musky, dusttinged smell of things that grew untended and had grown always, before the portly peonies and the angels with rigid wings, when the prairie bluffs were walked through only by Cree with enigmatic faces and greasy hair.Now I am rampant with memory. I don’t often indulge in this, or not so very often, anyway. Some people will tell you that the old live in the past — that’s nonsense. Each day, so worthless really, has a rarity for me lately. I could put it in a vase and admire it, like the first dandelions, and we would forget their weediness and marvel that they were there at all. But one dissembles, usually, for the sake of such people as Marvin, who is somehow comforted by the picture of old ladies feeding like docile rabbits on the lettuce leaves of other times, other manners. How unfair I am. Well, why not? To carp like this — it’s my only enjoyment, that and the cigarettes, a habit I acquired only ten years ago, out of boredom. Marvin thinks it disgraceful of me to smoke, at my age, ninety. To him there is something distressing in the sight of Hagar Shipley, who by some mischance happens to be his mother, with a little white burning tube held saucily between arthritic fingers. Now I light one of my cigarettes and stump around my room, remembering furiously, for no reason except that I am caught up in it. I must be careful not to speak aloud, though, for if I do Marvin will look at Doris and Doris will look meaningfully back at Marvin, and one of them will say, “Mother’s having one of her days.” Let them talk. What do I care now what people say? I cared too long.Oh, my lost men. No, I will not think of that. What a disgrace to be seen crying by that fat Doris. The door of my room has no lock. They say it is because I might get taken ill in the night, and then how could they get in to tend me (tend — as though I were a crop, a cash crop). So they may enter my room any time they choose. Privacy is a privilege not granted to the aged or the young. Sometimes very young children can look at the old, and a look passes between them, conspiratorial, sly and knowing. It’s because neither are human to the middling ones, those in their prime, as they say, like beef.

Editorial Reviews

"One of the most convincing – and the most touching – portraits of an unregenerate sinner."
Time