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The Stone Diaries (1993)

by Carol Shields

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,4261141,565 (3.76)1 / 482
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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» See also 482 mentions

English (109)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
It's one of those books that seemed to hit me on quite a deeper level. I adored it. It's a "nothing special book" but holy, does it grab you and not let go. ( )
  BookLeafs | May 26, 2022 |
This book! It’s just the story of a life, of several lives, of loneliness and internal desolation, of a life half lived or unlived, of too late awakenings, of “orphanhood” and the horrible effects of feeling unloved….of loss …and unresolved grief that lasted a life time. And yet, it’s so much more.

We are taken on several characters’ journeys in a biographical/autobiographical structure that normally would have confused me (all the switches from omniscient narrator to third person back to first, etc.), but seemed to have worked for this book. It begins and ends with the same character, Daisy.

Shields’ writing is good, but there were some metaphors left me utterly confused (forgot to write them down).
Another bothersome bit was the picture used for the fictional character, Mercy (the author incorporates family pictures in the middle like you may find in biographies/autobiographies, which thrilled me). So much (so much!) emphasis was made as to how obese Mercy was, how elephantine and enormous she was (the author’s descriptions not my own assumptions), and the picture used was of an average portly woman and nothing like the Mercy that was described.

But these two small gripes are nothing compared to the aspects I absolutely loved about this book:
💫
The main thing I got out of this book is that time passes and time is precious. We should make the best of this thing called life for as long as we can, and according to our own interpretation of what it means to be alive and present: ““It has never been easy for me to understand the obliteration of time, to accept, as others seem to do, the swelling and corresponding shrinkage of seasons or the conscious acceptance that one year has ended and another begun. There is something here that speaks of our essential helplessness and how the greater substance of our lives is bound up with waste and opacity. Even the sentence “twelve years have passed” is to deny the fact of biographical logic. How can so much time hold so little, how can it be taken from us? Months, weeks, days, hours misplaced – and the most precious time of life, too, when our bodies are at their greatest strength, and open, as they never will be again, to the onslaught of sensation.” Time *is* precious…say what you need to before it’s too late.
💫
This is such a simple story and yet so profound. The notion that we can, and often are, different people at different times of our lives is not usually acknowledged or accepted. This is exemplified in various characters but most notably with Cuyler Goodwill: quiet acquiescing child, besotted young husband who had an erotic awakening, despondent widower who leaned into faith, negligent father who reassumed his role with guilt and determination, self-made man who became extremely eloquent, and a man who later lost his flavor for words and started a new life with a new wife. So many different people in one life time!
As to the ending – it will haunt me for a minute. Initially it felt so drawn out and long. I was thinking “Where the heck is this leading? It’s the end of a life. I get it” – But then realized that, not only did the author do an amazing job of “ending” a life phase, but she set it up as a contrast between what “we” (the general societal “we”) see as opposed to what “we” (the personal) may be thinking or experiencing at the end of our lives:

“Daisy Goodwill Flett….died peacefully…after a long illness patiently borne…” VS “I am not at peace.” (final unspoken words by Daisy) – AHHHHHH!!!! I’m still shuddering. ( )
  Eosch1 | Jan 2, 2022 |
Apparently I read this book in the 90's, as it was on my "read" bookcase and had survived several previous book culls and the house move. It nearly got sold in the recent, major, new furniture clear out, but something told me to take another look. I didn't remember a thing about it, but I am so glad I reread it. Deserved its Pulitzer Prize. ( )
  MuggleBorn930 | Jul 11, 2021 |
[pulitzer #17] historical fiction (1905-199?); stories from one woman's family tree (memories plus what might be pieced together with artifacts and documentation). I'd read this 10 years ago(Manitobans and their stone!) but had forgotten that I had. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The Canadian marvel, loved it for the 2nd time. One of those books that makes me feel like there are other people out there like me, which was her point. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
The Stone Diaries is a kaleidoscopic novel, brilliantly and intricately told by way of straight narrative, alternating points of view, letters, newspaper reports.
added by KayCliff | editLife in the Garden, Penelope Lively (Nov 10, 2021)
 
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 (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shields, Carolprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belenson, GailCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gossije, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Längsfeld, MargareteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lively, PenelopeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Mary AnnCover artistsecondary 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)

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.

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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)
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Voland Edizioni

An edition of this book was published by Voland Edizioni.

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