Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.
Jane Urquhart is the author of five internationally acclaimed novels: The Whirlpool, which received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France; Changing Heaven; Away, which won the Trillium Award and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, which won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and The Stone Carvers, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize and for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass, and three books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace, False Shuffles, and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan (I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan were published together in 2000 in a one-volume collector’s edition entitled Some Other Garden). Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, and has been named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. She was also the 2003 recipient of Alberta's Bob Edwards Award.
Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia.
Jane Urquhart was born in Little Long Lac, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto. She now lives outside of Toronto.
“The Great Canadian Novel.…An epic portrait of a nation’s birth.”
“Breathtaking. By the end of the book, Urquhart’s message about the inexorable human need to remember seems almost set in stone.”
“Magnificent.…A spellbinding tale.…”
“This book is not just delightful, but essential.…Extraordinarily rewarding.”
–Globe and Mail
The Observer (U.K.)
“Sculptors are like lovers in this saga, awakening rock instead of flesh.…Urquhart powerfully evokes the wonders of stone and the carver’s art, always linking them to the human body.…The novel’s moving promise [is] that, if we are true to our gifts, we can at least strike a brief form from the obdurate stone of our fate.”
“Superb.…Urquhart clusters together momentous philosophical sentiments on such issues as aesthetics, mortality and memory in an epic prose that sweeps as far and wide as the Canadian geography.… She is a gifted storyteller.…[She] also writes of the most heart-rending ironies that have become part of our collective past.…Ultimately, Urquhart’s story, which is at once a romance drama, war epic and trail-blazing story of pioneers, speaks of the small actions – like the minute movements that make up the stone cutter’s craft – taken by individuals in the past that make our own future possible.”
“[Urquhart] has a mesmerizing ability to animate the past, calling up events and eras with extraordinary clarity and imbuing them with wonder and marvel.”
–Quill & Quire
“The Stone Carvers has the immediacy and wisdom of a folk tale.…Urquhart renders the texture and colour of such objects so vividly that they stick in the mind the way memories from early childhood do.…For sheer exuberance of style, The Stone Carvers recalls the riotous paintings of Marc Chagall in which human figures, wearing expressions of calm delight, soar over villages. Although people don’t defy gravity in The Stone Carvers, miracles do appear.… [The Stone Carvers] offers total enchantment.”
“A story with its own strong momentum, and undoubted emotional power.…”