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Carol Shields (1935–2003)

Author of The Stone Diaries

41+ Works 16,634 Members 361 Reviews 73 Favorited

About the Author

Carol Shields is a writer and critic who was born on June 2, 1935 in Chicago and grew up in Illinois. Shields resided in Canada, where she was the Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, and a professor at the University of Manitoba. Shields's first novel, Small Ceremonies, was published the week show more of her 40th birthday. Her other works of fiction include The Orange Fish, Larry's Party, Various Miracles, and The Stone Diaries, which received the Governor's General Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Shields has also been awarded the Canadian Bookseller's Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the CBC Prize for Drama. She died on July 16, 2003. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Carol Shields

The Stone Diaries (1993) 5,822 copies, 120 reviews
Unless (2002) 3,071 copies, 94 reviews
Larry's Party (1997) 1,906 copies, 37 reviews
The Republic of Love (1992) 830 copies, 14 reviews
Jane Austen (2001) 793 copies, 23 reviews
Mary Swann (1987) 721 copies, 6 reviews
Dressing Up for the Carnival (2000) 463 copies, 8 reviews
Collected Stories (2004) 453 copies, 8 reviews
The Box Garden (1977) 453 copies, 7 reviews
Small Ceremonies (1976) 408 copies, 9 reviews
Dropped Threads: What We Aren't Told (2001) — Editor — 277 copies, 2 reviews
Various Miracles (1985) 201 copies, 4 reviews
A Celibate Season (1991) 188 copies, 5 reviews
Dropped Threads 2: More of What We Aren't Told (2003) — Editor — 128 copies, 1 review

Associated Works

Mansfield Park (1814) — Introduction, some editions — 22,779 copies, 361 reviews
The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 1,140 copies, 3 reviews
For the Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most (1999) — Contributor — 457 copies, 3 reviews
Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times (2001) — Contributor — 449 copies, 4 reviews
From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories (1990) — Contributor — 130 copies, 1 review
The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty (1999) — Contributor — 106 copies, 1 review
Prize Stories 1997: The O. Henry Awards (1997) — Contributor — 101 copies, 2 reviews
The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories (1986) — Contributor — 73 copies, 1 review
Without a Guide: Contemporary Women's Travel Adventures (1994) — Contributor — 61 copies
The Second Persephone Book of Short Stories (2019) — Contributor — 28 copies
The Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women in English (1999) — Contributor — 28 copies
A Second Skin: Women Write about Clothes (1998) — Contributor — 17 copies, 1 review
A/Cross Sections: New Manitoba Writing (2007) — Contributor — 1 copy


1001 (202) 1001 books (195) 19th century (650) anthology (182) Austen (366) biography (279) British (343) British literature (350) Canada (507) Canadian (557) Canadian fiction (194) Canadian literature (454) classic (967) classic literature (131) classics (1,090) ebook (175) England (421) English (188) English literature (378) essays (132) family (255) fiction (4,849) historical fiction (120) Jane Austen (539) Kindle (135) literary fiction (147) literature (726) marriage (126) non-fiction (324) novel (742) own (243) Pulitzer Prize (172) read (420) Regency (265) romance (656) short stories (425) to-read (1,374) unread (234) women (270) writing (219)

Common Knowledge



Carol Shields Month in Orange January/July (June 2012)
Larry's Party by Carol Shields in Orange January/July (January 2012)
Group Read - The Stone Diaries (March) - Spoiler Thread in The 11 in 11 Category Challenge (March 2011)


THE BOX GARDEN (1977) is a gem of a book that my late mother left behind eleven years ago and I just got around to reading it. Mom and I both thoroughly enjoyed Carol Shields' THE STONE DIARIES that won her the Pulitzer nearly thirty years ago. And I've read a couple of her other books since then. This one features Charlene Forest, a divorced single mom, living on the economic edge in the seventies (well before PCs, cell phones and all the other crap of today). Char has a confidence problem, but she manages quite well. Her ex was an unbalanced, selfish hippy, but she still gets a small monthly child support check in the mail twelve years after he deserted them. Char is traveling by train from Vancouver back to her home near Toronto for a week, where her long-widowed mother is getting married. And her mom is really a piece of work - perhaps one of the most unlikeable, unpleasant characters you're likely to meet in modern fiction. And the man she is marrying cones with some real surprises. Char brings her 'boyfriend,' a really nice guy - an orthodontist - and leaves her 15 year-old son behind with some friends. And she hopes to connect with 'Brother Adam,' a mysterious (mystic?) botanist she's been corresponding with - who sent her a 'box garden' of grass. Oh, and her older sister and husband are there for the wedding too. Then there is this totally unexpected family crisis, and the police enter in. I mean for such an ordinary-seeming collection of people, things get pretty intense all at once, and there is a lot going on, with some sudden twists. This is just a very good story, with very finely wrought characters, and very seventies too. I loved it. And the late Carol Shields was a wonderful writer. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of CV memoir, BOOKLOVER
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TimBazzett | 6 other reviews | Jul 5, 2024 |
A sympathetic biography by one author on another. The facts of Jane Austen's life can be picked up in any number of other biographies, but the strength of this short book is in Carol Shields' appraisal of Austen's influences and writing processes. Her research is tempered with empathy for her subject, making for an absorbing read.
Margaret09 | 22 other reviews | Apr 15, 2024 |
I was disappointed in this book. To narrow it down I think the plot was too diffuse, it roamed around too much and never really settled on anything substantial.
charlie68 | 119 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
I've read a lot of great biographies on Jane Austen, but this one was truly excellent. First off, I would not recommend this for someone who knows very little about Jane Austen or her books, as a lot of basics are assumed in order to get on to things that better interest the knowledgeable "Janeite". I think that's why I enjoyed it so much---it was a refreshing take on the details behind that "Jane Austen Fact Sheet" that a lot of biographies seem to be drawing from.

I love Shields' metaphor of "glances" on page 3-4. She discusses how Austen never really goes into detail about some of the things that were so newsworthy in her day: the Napoleonic wars, changes in societal structure and the Church, advances in science and medicine. She describes Austen's dealings with them as "glances"---an implied commentary.

Another thing the biographer brought to my attention, in respect to the writer in me---and in Austen---was that Jane Austen never had that quiet place that I seem not to be able to write without. "The encouragement of her imagination did not arise from conditions offered her by others." I am always looking for that place of solitude---the "Perfect Place to Write." Yet, Jane Austen just wrote wherever she was and however she could---no matter what was going on around her. I can't expect others to pave the way for me. If I really want to finish that story that I'm working on, I need to make it happen.

After reading this short bio, I'm more encouraged to track down some of her published correspondence. Maybe I'll have the chance to find some on my trip to England next month.
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classyhomemaker | 22 other reviews | Dec 11, 2023 |


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