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The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
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The Stone Diaries (1993)

by Carol Shields

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,427921,107 (3.73)1 / 368
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English (87)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Good book. I didn't really connect with the characters, but I think that is what the author meant. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
"What is the story of a life? A chronicle of fact or a skillfully wrought impression? The bringing together of what she fears? Or the adding up of what has been off-handedly revealed, those tiny allotted increments of knowledge?"

The Stone Diaries is the story of Daisy Goodwill's life, from her birth in 1905 to her death sometime in the 1990s. Subtle hints tell us that she is the unreliable narrator of this novel, but in spite of that, we get everyone's opinion about her life except Daisy's. Along the way we see glimpses of the tumultuous 20th century reflected in Daisy's equally tumultuous life.

Earlier this year I read another of Shields' novels, Unless, and wasn't that impressed, so I wasn't expecting much from The Stone Diaries, even though it's a Pulitzer Prize winner. I was more than pleasantly surprised. This is a great book, and if you haven't read it, you should. The unreliable narrator, the search for identity, the symbolism of the rigidity of stone and the rebirth of plants, and the portrait of the changing roles of women during the last 100 years all come together brilliantly to create this wonderfully riveting story. Obviously I enjoyed the book itself, but I also really enjoyed the process of reading the book, if that makes sense. Shields really kept me interested in finding out more about Daisy, but the prose was so lyrical that I really enjoyed reading it slowly and savoring the language and ideas. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
The Stone Diaries is the life story of Daisy Goodwill an “every woman” born in 1905. The story is told using multiple narratives and forms (letters, diary entries, photos, etc). Chapters are titled after Daisy’s major life events or milestones: Birth, Childhood, Marriage, Love, Motherhood, Work). Daisy seems to be very ordinary in every sense of the word. She marries, has children, works, is of “moderate intelligence” and an average-sized ego. A surface read of this book would result in an interesting but relatively slow-paced biography of an ordinary woman. What makes the book so interesting is that the multiple narratives, rather than contributing to the creation of a comprehensive picture of the protagonist’s life, raise doubts about how well we can ever really know someone (what drives them, motivates them, etc). The book ultimately explores the limits and constraints of autobiography as a form while at the same time providing commentary about gender, gender roles, and conventionality.

I enjoyed this book. At first I thought it was just a simple and interesting (but not spectacular) account of a woman’s life. Nothing really dramatic happens and the story meanders along at a slow pace. Even some of the more dramatic moments are described in ways make them seem ordinary. What is interesting is that as you follow her life, you realize that you never quite get a true understanding of Daisy as a person. She seems more like a character who passes through, never really occupying her own story. Who is Daisy? What makes her happy? What gives her a sense of purpose? Despite spending 360 pages with her, the answers remain fuzzy. I read that the author described this book as a “nesting of Russian dolls, a novel that’s like a box within a box” and that the box that was inside of Daisy was empty. I was surprised to find that the multiple narratives, rather than shed clarity on her life let me feeling a sense of emptiness about her life. Finally, I really loved how Shields created subtle distortions that blend the lines between fact and fiction and provide commentary on the limitations of autobiography.

Overall an enjoyable and slow-moving book that on the surface appears deceptively simple, but in reality is fairly complex and multi-layered.

( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Stone Diaries Carol Shields
★★★
From her birth in 1905 to her death in 199- the novel follows the life of Daisy Goodwill.
Made up of diary extracts, photographs, first and second hand accounts as well as press cuttings and letters the narrative gives the reader a complete insight into one womans life, how much is actually historically accurate is for the reader to decide.
While I did enjoy this book I found some parts slow and hard going, my favourite section was "work" which is largely made up of correspondences which I found amusing and quick to read. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Daisy Goodwill's life, from birth through to death with all it's twists and turns. Predominantly about relationships and the role of women in the early twentieth century, this is an enjoyable read written from a number of different perspectives. I wasn't actually expecting to enjoy this, and, while I wasn't bowled over in any way, was pleasantly surprised. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
There is little in the way of conventional plot here, but its absence does nothing to diminish the narrative compulsion of this novel. Carol Shields has explored the mysteries of life with abandon, taking unusual risks along the way. "The Stone Diaries" reminds us again why literature matters.
added by kathrynnd | editNew York Times, Jay Parini (Mar 27, 1994)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carol Shieldsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gossije, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
nothing she did or said
was quite what she meant
but still her life could be called a monument
shaped in a slant of available light
and set to the movement of possible music

(From "The Grandmother Cycle" by Judith Downing, Converse Quarterly, Autumn)
Dedication
For my sister Babs
First words
My mother's name was Mercy Stone Goodwill.
Quotations
It is frightening, and also exhilarating, her ability to deceive those around her...
She was, you might say, a woman who recognized the value of half a loaf.
These last ten years had been a period of disintegration; he saw that now. He had imagined himself to be a man intent on making something, while all the while he was participating in a destructive and sorrowful narrowing of his energy.
Moving right along, and along, and along. The way she's done all her life. Numbly. Without thinking.
That life “thus far” has meant accepting the doses of disabling information that have come her way, every drop, and stirring them with the spoon of her longing – she's done this for so many years it's become second nature.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
From her calamitous birth in Manitboa in 1905 to her journey with her father to Indiana, throughot her years as a wife, mother, and widow, Daisy Stone Goodwill has struggled to understand her place in her own life. Now 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 miconnections she discovers in between. With irony and humor, CS weaves together the poignant story of this twentieth-century pilgrim in search of herself, and in doing so she creates a story that is a paradigm of the unsettles decades of our era. (0-14-023313-X)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014023313X, Paperback)

This fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett, captured in Daisy's vivacious yet reflective voice, has been winning over readers since its publication in 1995, when it won the Pulitzer Prize. After a youth marked by sudden death and loss, Daisy escapes into conventionality as a middle-class wife and mother. Years later she becomes a successful garden columnist and experiences the kind of awakening that thousands of her contemporaries in mid-century yearned for but missed in alcoholism, marital infidelity and bridge clubs. The events of Daisy's life, however, are less compelling than her rich, vividly described inner life--from her memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death. Shields' sensuous prose and her deft characterizations make this, her sixth novel, her most successful yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:23 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of its original publication, Carol Shields's Pulitzer Prizewinning novel is now available in a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition One of the most successful and acclaimed novels of our time, this fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett is a subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. What transforms this seemingly ordinary tale is the richness of Daisy's vividly described inner life -- from her earliest memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death.… (more)

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Voland Edizioni

An edition of this book was published by Voland Edizioni.

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