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The Stone Maples


English sample available

A stunning family drama told with the precision of Nabokov and the hypnotic intensity of Joyce.

Red-haired Sasha Saunley runs a bed and breakfast called The Stone Maples in the tiny, remote village of Wishguard, somewhere on the moors of Wales. Not only is she considered weird, but she is also rumored to be a witch. Such a rumor is not entirely groundless, since she has refused to speak after the next-door teenagers killed her dogs, Hugin and Munin, all the more as The Stone Maples long ago became a substitute for her five-o'clock meetings with the second cousins of her late father. Sasha’s younger stepsister Edna disappears under obscure circumstances – while in the courtyard, a hummock appears with an epitaph for the "Younger One".

The possible crime of the Welsh witch becomes the pretext for a bet – and Llewellyn, a Londoner, arrives at The Stone Maples to investigate what is purported to be a murder. Sasha’s journal falls into his hands – the passionate, poetic, and witty confession of an enigmatic woman. Her love-hate relationship with her younger stepsister, knotty affairs with the locals, envy and betrayal, fantasies, myth, and legend – all this enchants Llewellyn, and when he is about to admit his loss of the bet, he finds another of Sasha’s journals, containing totally different entries. Why does she need two journals; and, more importantly, which of them is truth and which is fiction?

Told through the journals and letters of Sasha, her stepmother, her younger stepsister Edna Alexandrina, Llewellyn, and Tabitha, the London girl who is in love with him, this entrancing family drama reveals one shocking mystery after another. The most significant puzzle is broached at the very end.

The Stone Maples is a breathtakingly deep and atmospheric novel inhabited by lovable and vivid characters. Masterly use of cultural layers, the delicacy of literary allusion reminiscent of Joyce and Nabokov, and an eerily prophetic gaze at reality – these are the trademarks of Lena Eltang, one of the most unique authors writing today.

Book details


Alpina Non-Fiction

Novel, 2008, 2023

414 pp

Rights sold

  • Latvian Janis Roze

  • Lithuanian Vaga

Literary awards

  • Winner of the New Literature Award 2009

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