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These Granite Islands

A Novel

Sarah Stonich

Publication Year: 2013

These Granite Islands is an arresting novel about a woman who, on her deathbed, recalls the haunting and fateful summer of 1936, a summer that forever changed her life. Sarah Stonich’s debut novel, set on the Iron Range of Minnesota, is an intimate and gripping story of a friendship, a portrait of marriage, and a meditation on the tragedy of loss.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. 2-9


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pp. 10-13

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pp. 3-4

They worked side by side through the warm days, and in the evenings they traveled the fringes of town to the reedy shore, walking arm in arm the way women no longer walk. There they would sit, Cathryn doing most of the talking, her words bridging the whispers of waves...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 5-14

The summer began with the island, and the island began with Christmas of the winter before. Church bells heralded Christmas, and so in a way rang in the existence of the island. Isabel remembered easily now, clear as the carillon resounding from the bell tower at Our Lady of the Lake on a snowy afternoon...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 15-29

Isobel felt herself rising through dark water. It was' a slow ascent from slate depths, light teasing in a far shimmer above. Air bubbles trapped on the underside of the boat gleamed like wriggling snails. Victor was leaning over the gunwale, his face wavering just over the surface, beckoning to her, his fingertips dents of mercury in the water...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 30-49

In May, Isobel Howard turned thirty-six years old. She woke early to find the sun not yet risen and the house perfectly quiet. She lay motionless next to her husband, the deep silence revealing a jewel within her cache of memory. She had only to reach up and wrap her hands around the glad weight of it...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 50-72

On Saturday Isobel walked to the tailor shop. Victor's sign on the door, Sorry, closed till September, was crooked. She removed it and hung the sign Louisa had fashioned the night before. The girl had worked so hard bent over her pasteboard, the tip of her tongue anchored...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 73-85

Victor closed Beeks's tailor shop, put the building up for sale, and crated up the best of the machinery and supplies. When the building sold, the cash would buy them a new start...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 86-104

Like an island.
"What did you say, Mother?"
"Did I say something? Sorry, I was gathering moss."
"So, this woman, Cathryn, she's a part of that summer?"...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 105-121

Isobel stayed away from home two years. When she did come back it was only reluctantly, bringing Victor to meet her parents. He endured endless cups of watery coffee and the stream of her mother's chatter. When Victor finally asked what he'd come to ask, for Isobel's hand in marriage, her father nodded solemnly, rose, shook Victor's...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 122-141

Monday morning Isobel walked into the shop to find Cathryn standing over the shards of a broken vase, palms pressed to her eyes as if to hold them in place. Purple columbine and white iris lay amid a pool of water slowly soaking into the floorboards...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 142-154

Cathryn's new watercolours were no longer of remembered hats, but Isobel's own creations, painted in crisp detail, but with one side fading into shadow or simply unfinished, so that the hats seemed to be emerging from the thick watercolour paper by magic. The faces of the models were regally simple, drawn with only a few...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 155-182

With little to do in her first lonely days in Cypress, Cathryn had taken to wandering about on a bicycle left by some previous tenant. On one of her excursions she found a narrow road leading up to the fire tower. The tower stood on the highest point of land in the county, and the...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 183-197

Victor reserved a room at the Hotel Duluth. Saturday after her shift at the Pasal Millinery, Isobel rushed home to pack. She bathed, put on perfume, decided the perfume was too strong, bathed again. She raced out the back door of the boardinghouse so her landlady wouldn't see her...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 198-219

She asked Cathryn if she was ever afraid God would punish her for her sin.
"My sin?"
"Your infidelity."
"My infidelity. Mine. It has nothing to do with God. If anyone, it's Liam I'll have to answer to."...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 220-227

When Thomas walked in, her face was turned to the window and she was reciting something. Her voice was muffled by the plastic tent. He stepped closer.
As she turned, her voice became more clear. "And woodthrush calling through the fog / My daughter. "...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 228-243

Through the afternoon, lightning illuminated the room's farthest corners in jagged flashes.
"One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three ... " A staccato clap of thunder shook the building. The storm was three miles away. Or was it? Isobel tried to...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 244-258

Did you believe she was powerless, as she claimed?" Isabel grew thoughtful. After a moment she turned to her son. "I saw a television program once, I think it was during the Vietnam War, some panel discussion. Four famous and respected men were asked for their personal definitions of power. The writer said, 'Beauty,' the general said, ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 259-274

Isobel testified at the inquest into Liam Malley's death. Victor stood close as she gave her curt answers. Yes, Your Honor, or No, Your Honor.
She embellished nothing. She did not take off her hat or her white gloves...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 275-299

When Louisa came to visit from New York she saw her mother's hair wild with grey, her demeanor oddly complacent, and her tongue a little dull. The shop was dusty, and when she examined the account ledgers she found payments past due and orders well behind schedule...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 300-310

Isobel's eyes closed to a veil of sleep. She had fought to stay awake, to run through more possibilities. By all, she could no more be certain of the fates of Jack and Cathryn than she could know what to expect when the splashing within her own chest would cease...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816685011
E-ISBN-10: 0816685010
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816683536

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013