Monday, February 22, 2010
7. THE STONE CARVERS - Jane Urquhart
With the Winter Olympics held in Toronto, there is an increased interest in all things Canadian. I, of course, turn toward books, and I am fortunate to have a Canadian teacher-friend who has recommended so many great books over the years (thanks, Paul!).
This novel is about the taming of Canadian wilderness. The back story is about her grandfather, who helped build the church in Shoneval. His wood-carving skills created wonder among those who saw his work, and he passed down these lessons and materials to his granddaughter, Klara, and grandson, Tilman.
As adolescents, Klara is typical of the time. She wants to do more than women were "allowed" to do, like carve an enormous statue for the church. Instead, she settles for creating other things as the best tailor in the area. She falls for an Irish farmer who leaves to serve in the war.
Tilman, however, cannot bear to stay home. When he hears the call of the geese, he wants to follow them. This leads to a decades-long separation from his sister. But, when they are reunited, he agrees to go to France with Klara and work on the monument dedicated to the soldiers from the Great World War.
The writing is beautiful and spare, but the characters felt forced into their roles. Klara is bitter and stubborn to the point where I could not comprehend her choices. The end is predictable. If the writing were not so lovely, it would have been painful to read, but I liked the different tales of Canadian history.
2.75 out of 5.0 Canadian Car Bombs.