Klara Becker is the talented and moody granddaughter of a master woodcarver – one of the original settlers of the small village of Shoneval. Klara’s foolish youth is wasted on a brief romantic interlude with a self-absorbed,
idealistic boy from her village. Her brother, named after the famous artist Tilman,
fled from the torment he endured by their abusive parents and learned to live on
the streets. Many years and a great war pass before these siblings unite. Inspired by Tilman’s journeys, Klara decides to break away from the chains she created for herself – but she does so in a very ambitious way.
Joined by the talent that grew through the lessons their grandfather gave, Tilman and Klara embark on a journey back to the battlefield in 1934. The siblings endeavor to ply their talents as carvers and gain work at the Vimy Ridge Memorial, which
is being constructed under the direction of the Canadian architect Walter Allward. There, Tilman must come to terms with wounds incurred during the war, while Klara must let the past go and learn to live in the present.
I was disappointed in the overall story of The Stone Carvers, mostly because I expected more from such a highly acclaimed award-winning author. Klara, the main character, is harsh, unforgiving, stubborn and sadly foolish. Much of the storyline seems unlikely and, frankly, there
are long sections that are simply uninteresting. Long-winded, sidestepping historical lessons reduce interest in the main story. Overall, The Stone Carvers is a sad epic story of doomed romance, childhood abuse and stubbornness.
The book does bring Canadian history to life by sharing little-known information about World War One and the carvers involved
with the monument for the fallen soldiers in France.
The Stone Carvers is the fifth novel
from Canadian author Jane Urquhart. Her other work includes three books of poetry and a book of short stories. Urquhart continues to reside in the area
where she grew up - Toronto, Ontario.