The Stone Angel

By Margaret Laurence,

Book cover of The Stone Angel

Book description

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet...

Hagar Shipley - an irascible, independent nonagenarian - has lived a quiet life full of rage. As she approaches her death, she retreats from the squabbling of her son and…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Stone Angel as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Who would have thought that a novel about a ninety-year-old woman determined to avoid being put into a nursing home would become required reading for high school and university students? And yet this novel has been listed by several sources as one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written. Laurence’s writing style inspired me and gave me the assurance to write about Western Canadian history. It demonstrates one of the reasons why Laurence was named posthumously as “A Person of National Historic Significance” by the Canadian government in 2018.

Hagar is ninety years old, and looking back on her life as she puts up a fight against being sent to a nursing home. This is a really moving story that makes you re-think family loyalties. The harshness of life on the Canadian prairie shines through, and Hagar’s independence and bloody-mindedness is inspiring. 

From Jacqueline's list on brilliant old women as heroines.

Hagar Shipley’s voice is a force of nature forever lodged in my psyche. She is an infuriating woman, but so committed to being an asshole right to the end of the story that you have to shake your head in grudging admiration. Whether right or wrong, she's resolute. When she finds herself staring down the end of her life, she takes full responsibility for all of it—the pain, the joys, the failures−but still will not go darkly into that good night. I wanted a similarly epic voice for my young pioneer protagonist who flung herself at life.

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