Canada Reads·Canadian

The Stone Angel

Margaret Laurence's novel celebrates the triumph of the spirit through the story of a young girl growing up on the Prairies.

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel is a Canadian classic. It's the story of Hagar Shipley, a 90-year-old woman who is struggling to come to terms with a life of loss. Facing the prospect of being confined to a nursing home, she revisits her past, drawing the reader into her experiences as a young girl growing up on the Prairies, as an often unhappy farmer's wife and sometimes overbearing mother and, finally, as an isolated old woman, whose pride has cost her dearly.

The Stone Angel was a finalist for Canada Reads 2002, when it was defended by Leon Rooke.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

Summer and winter she viewed the town with sightless eyes. She was doubly blind, not only stone but unendowed with even a pretense of sight. Whoever carved her had left the eyeballs blank. It seemed strange to me that she should stand above the town, harking us all to heaven without knowing who we were at all. But I was too young then to know her purpose, although my father often told me she had been brought from Italy at a terrible expense and was pure white marble. I think now she must have been carved in that distant sun by stone masons who were the cynical descendants of Bernini, gouging out her like by the score, gauging with admirable accuracy the needs of fledgling pharaohs in an uncouth land.


From The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence ©1964. Published by McClelland & Stewart.

Author interviews

Between 1963 and 1966, Laurence begins her celebrated Manawaka series with The Stone Angel and A Jest of God. 5:19
Laurence speaks out against the censorship of her books in high schools. She talks about the importance of a "skilled" reading. 3:01