The Stone Angel

The Stone Angel is possibly the best-known of Margaret Laurence's
series of novels set in the fictitious town of Manawaka, Manitoba.
First published in 1964 by McClelland and Stewart, The Stone Angel
tells the story of Hagar Currie Shipley, using parallel narratives set
in the past and the present-day 1960s. In the present-day narrative,
90-year-old Hagar is struggling against being put in a nursing home,
which she sees as a symbol of death. The present-day narrative
alternates with Hagar looking back at her life.

Although Margaret Laurence had been publishing fiction for a decade
before The Stone Angel was published in 1964, it was this novel that
first won her a wide and appreciative audience. When The Stone Angel
was first published in 1964, most reviewers recognized it as a major
achievement. Robertson Davies, in The New York Times Book Review,
praised Laurence's insight into character as well as her "freshness of
approach her gift for significant detail.” A reviewer for Time
described The Stone Angel as "one of the most convincing and the most
touching portraits of an unregenerate sinner declining into senility
since Sara Monday went to her reward in Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth."

The book, amongst other titles by Laurence, was banned by some school
boards and high schools, usually following complaints from
fundamentalist Christian groups labelling the book blasphemous and
obscene. The Stone Angel has been translated into French, as L'Ange de
pierre (Montréal, 1976), German, and eleven other languages. It was
also selected for the 2002 edition of Canada Reads, where it was
championed by Leon Rooke.


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