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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Stone Carvers - Jane Urquhart

Read for the 2010 Complete Booker Challenge.

The Stone Carvers tells of the lives of a number of residents of the Canadian village of Shoneval – most especially a brother and sister, Tilman and Klara Becker.

The books shifts about in time a bit, and I’ll admit to some trepidation going in, when Klara is labeled at the onset as the village spinster, before we flash back to when she was courted by one of the village boys. That this courtship takes place just before WWI makes it clear what Eamon’s fate will be, and I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to where the story was heading, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I read.

The Beckers are wood carvers, and both Klara and Tilman (who lost a leg in the war) are ultimately able to use that skill by helping to build the memorial at Vimy Ridge in France. Their journey to France and the satisfying conclusion of their story there was ultimately uplifting, and I ended reading this book feeling very good last night.

I also really enjoyed that I was able to appreciate this book on a level that many Americans may not. I often think that we overlook WWI – we were so much more involved in WWII that that’s our war. But, for my 30th birthday, the BF and I took a trip to Quebec City, and that happened to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There was a lot of talk about that on TV and at some of the museums I visited, so I actually had a much better flavor for the context of what that battle would mean to a Canadian, and was able to enjoy this book on a much better level because of it.

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