The Stone Diaries was chosen by one of my favourite women in my book club. She read this book many years ago and loved it so much that she decided we had to read it as well. That being the case, I was a little too excited for this book. In the end, I can’t say that The Stone Diaries blew my mind, but it was really successful.
The Stone Diaries chronicles the life of Daisy Goodwill. On the surface, we follow Daisy’s life, a pretty ordinary American woman, from birth to death. Daisy gets married, has children and even grandchildren. She lives carefree in a beautiful house. The exciting part of The Stone Diaries is that you witness that there is not only one but many lives in a lifetime. We create different lives for ourselves at every stage of our lives. Some appear after losses, others after some gains. Those left behind, unfortunately, continue to live without knowing exactly who you are.
The Stone Diaries told me how complex and simple we are as human beings. Frankly, I can’t wait to reread it in ten years and look back at my own life. I recommend it to you too. Enjoy!
The Stone Diaries
The Stone Diaries is one ordinary woman’s story of her journey through life. Born in 1905, Daisy Stone Goodwill drifts through the roles of child, wife, widow, and mother, and finally into her old age. Bewildered by her inability to understand her place in her own life, Daisy attempts to find a way to tell her story within a novel that is itself about the limitations of autobiography.
Her life is vivid with incident, and yet she feels a sense of powerlessness. She listens, she observes, and through sheer force of imagination she becomes a witness of her own life: her birth, her death, and the troubling misconnections she discovers between. Daisy’s struggle to find a place for herself in her own life is a paradigm of the unsettled decades of our era.
A witty and compassionate anatomist of the human heart, Carol Shields has made distinctively her own that place where the domestic collides with the elemental. With irony and humor she weaves the strands of The Stone Diaries together in this, her richest and most poignant novel to date.
Carol Shields, née Carol Warner, (born June 2, 1935, Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.—died July 16, 2003, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), American-born Canadian author whose work explores the lives of ordinary people. Her masterpiece, The Stone Diaries (1993), won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995.
Shields grew up in the United States and in 1957 graduated from Hanover College in Indiana. That same year she married and moved to Canada. After taking a course in creative writing at the University of Toronto, she won a young writers contest sponsored by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1965. In 1975 she received an M.A. in English literature from the University of Ottawa and two years later published her thesis, a critical biography of Susanna Moodie, a 19th-century pioneer in Ottawa. After moving to Winnipeg, Shields taught English at the University of Manitoba and from 1996 to 2000 was the school’s chancellor.
Domestic life—the way everyday people appear and how they relate to one another—is a persistent theme in Shields’s fiction and poetry. She depicts the careful, contented lives of the middle class, expertly evoking their feelings and concerns. Her first two novels, Small Ceremonies (1976) and The Box Garden (1977), are interconnected, concerning the choices made by two sisters. In Happenstance (1980) and A Fairly Conventional Woman (1982), Shields used overlapping narratives to escape the strictures of straightforward narrative told from a single perspective.
Marketed in Canada as a crime drama, Swann: A Mystery (1987) is both a sly comedy of manners and a psychological novel that presents the life of a dead female poet as conceived by four very different characters. The Republic of Love (1992) brings two somewhat unlikely individuals together. Written in a pseudo-biographical manner, The Stone Diaries (1993) is a portrait of an ordinary woman whose life spans most of the 20th century.
The novel contains quotations from letters and newspapers as well as a section of photographs. In addition to winning a Pulitzer, The Stone Diaries received the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award (1993) and the National Book Critics Circle Award (1994). Shields also wrote a number of other works, including short story collections (such as The Orange Fish, 1989, and Dressing Up for the Carnival, 2000), three volumes of poetry, the novels Larry’s Party (1997) and Unless (2002), and a biography of Jane Austen (2001).
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: