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The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

The Stone Diaries (1993)

by Carol Shields

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,9191011,394 (3.74)1 / 429
Recently added byprivate library, kpslp, bittersweetdoll, dananas, folivier, thefirstdark, Radtosan, JonHutchings, PSII
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English (96)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
This novel follows one character through her life: from surprise baby in small-town Manitoba who loses her mother at birth, to being raised by an "aunt" (her mother's friend and former neighbor) in a slightly larger town, to meeting and living with her father in Indiana, to marriage, children, widowhood, illness, and death.

Once I got used to the pace and style of the writing--slow and descriptive--I enjoyed the first 2/3 or so of the book quite a lot and it was a 4-star read. The last two chapters did not work so well for me, and even though I could see what Shields was trying to do with the writing, I wanted more actual information as there had been in the earlier chapters.

Worthy of the Pultizer? I don't know without having read more books from that year. I can, though, see why it was chosen. ( )
  Dreesie | Dec 28, 2018 |
I wish I had more time to re-read books as I get so much more out of them on a second read. But there are so many other books demanding my attention that I don't normally indulge in a re-read. I have a feeling that if I read this book in another 20 years that I would probably see even more. I'll have to consider that.

Daisy Goodwill Flett lived through most of the 20th century. She was born in 1905 and died in 199? Her birth in a small house in Tyndall, Manitoba was accompanied by the tragedy of her mother dying. The next door neighbour, Clarentine Flett, took her in and then, abandoning her husband, moved to Winnipeg with her. In Winnipeg Clarentine moved in with her son, Barker, a professor at Wesley College and the three had a comfortable home together. Then, in 1916 Clarentine was struck by a bicycle at the corner of Portage and Main and died. Daisy's father Cuyler stepped into the breach and took Daisy to Indiana where he was starting a new job as a stone-cutter. In time Daisy was married, widowed and then married again to Barker Flett. They lived in Ottawa where Barker was a key researcher in hybrid grains. Daisy and Barker had three children and Daisy was the perfect housewife with dinner on the table, the children cleaned up, fresh lipstick and clean blouse and skirt on when Barker returned from work. For twenty years they lived this prosaic life and then Barker died of a brain tumour. Daisy began a career as the writer of a weekly column on gardening for the local paper and threw herself into that as she had into being the perfect wife. When the column was given to another employee Daisy went into a deep depression but she did eventually come out of it. With her two girlhood friends, Fraidy and Beans, she travelled and eventually moved to Florida where she lived out her days. Her children were far flung but she had weekly telephone conversations with them and they visited when able. Did she have a fulfilling life? Or did she always lack a mother's touch? She witnessed so many changes in her life span but they don't seem to have had much impact on her. And yet she had an impact on the lives of people around her, even those who were only tangentially connected.
The poem at the beginning of the book, supposedly written by Daisy's granddaughter, should be read often as you read the book:

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 ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 29, 2017 |
I really liked the story. the dynamics of a family from the matriarch's point of view. well done. ( )
  Oleksiew | Jul 26, 2017 |
A woman looks back on her seemingly uneventful life. When her story is told from the perspective of others, it seems anything but. This Pulitzer prize winner of 1995 is a modern classic.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Feb 23, 2017 |
mildly interesting, but I couldn't really get into after trying several times over a few months. No - this didn't make my 100 New Classics list!
  deldevries | Jan 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shields, Carolprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gossije, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lively, PenelopeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)
For my sister Babs
First words
My mother's name was Mercy Stone Goodwill.
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

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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