Anthony McGowan, Guest Editor June 2015 chose Animal Farm as one of his favourite short novels.. "Garner has a good claim to be our finest living children’s writer (although he baulks at such restrictive definitions). His work has always interwoven fantasy and a grittily-rendered reality, but here realism comes to the fore. Four very short linked stories take us through four generations of one family in a Cheshire village. You could say that the stories are ‘about’ the nature of craftsmanship, the importance of geography in our psychic development, how wisdom is passed down through the generations, about how seemingly simple people lead lives of depth and resonance. Yet somehow it’s not really what its about that gives The Stone Book Quartet its power: it’s what it is: a self-contained, perfect work of art, as heavy in the hand as a granite rock."
A classic work of rural magic realism from one of Britain's greatest children's novelists.
Through four interconnected fables of a way of living in rural England that has now disappeared, Alan Garner vividly brings to life a landscape situated on the outskirts of industrial Manchester. Smiths and chandlers, steeplejacks and quarrymen, labourers and artisans all live and work hand in hand with the seasons, the elements, and the land. There is a mutual respect and a knowledge of the magical here that has somehow, somewhere been lost to us. These fables beautifully recapture and restore that lost world in simple, searching prose.
This paperback brings together for the first time the four brilliantly concise and sparklingly visual stories of Alan Garner's ancestors who. in their childhood, 'lived' the crafts that grew from the needs of the countryside - weaver, stonemason, iron-founder - before World War II. Earthy, musical, deep-rooted, honest, these stories highlight the interaction of craftsmen and their families with the environment of which (once) they were an integral part.
'These books have far more than a story to offer. The final continuity in the stories, linked as they are by repetition of words and image, of places and people, is the continuity of crafts, practised over generations and leaving their products behind them. The prose is simple, concrete and direct, as clear as notes in music and as definite.'
'The Stone Book Quartet has an artistry that is nothing short of breathtaking, a simplicity that engages everyone who can hear the voices of the characters on the page. The use of metaphor has a diamond-like quality that makes us read his text as an exciting exploration of writing. He binds the reader to him and shows us the author working with language to make his book as his characters worked with iron and stone. Not a word is wasted. The episodes in each book stand out clear against the sky and landscape of Garner's north-east Cheshire.' TLS
|Publication date:||15th May 2006|
|Publisher:||HarperPerennial an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Suitable for:||11+ readers, 13+ readers|
Alan Garner, the son of Colin and Marjorie Garner, was born ("with the cord wrapped twice round my throat") in his grandmother's front room in Congleton, Cheshire on 17th October 1934, and grew up in Alderley Edge, where his father's family have lived for more than three hundred years, being craftsmen in the area. He completed two years' national service in the Royal Artillery as a Second Lieutenant. He began writing his first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, at the age of twenty-two.More About Alan Garner