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The box garden by Carol Shields

The box garden (1977)

by Carol Shields

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371544,399 (3.43)25
  1. 00
    Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields (raidergirl3)
    raidergirl3: the narrators of both books are sisters, so the books are companions

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Showing 5 of 5
Couldn't get into it. Protagonist is thirty eight-year-old destitute single mother.
  DeanClark | Sep 20, 2013 |
A divorced woman goes back home to celebrate her mother's second wedding. Wry observations of family and relationships, and powerful characterisations - especially of the life-squelching elderly mother. ( )
  LARA335 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again, but I still plan on reading all of Carol Shields’ work. This is my fourth Shields’ novel, and while it wasn’t as good as the other three, The Stone Diaries, Unless, and Larry’s Party, it still ranks as a 4 star book. The three I had previously read were the last three she wrote, while The Box Garden was written in 1977 and was only her second novel.

Charleen Forrest is a divorced poet with a son. Charleen has all the ordinary issues with her ex-husband and with her mother (who doesn’t?), but the way Shields writes about them are anything but ordinary.

“My breakdown too; that’s the part I didn’t confess, the part I conceal even from myself except when I am absolutely alone in the middle of the night as I am now. The day Watson left, everything more or less fell apart for me, too. The world, which I was just beginning to perceive, was spoiled. Everything ruined, everthing scattered. Scattered like me, the way I’m scattered through this house.”

When I read her books, it is as if she is peering into my mind and soul and speaking directly to me. She always goes to the heart of the matter. I regret her early death from cancer. I feel like the literary world missed out on some wonderful stories that she unfortunately had to leave unwritten. You know the question that’s always asked about which author you’d like to meet and have dinner with, alive or dead? Without a doubt, mine would be Carol Shields.

“I suppose this is why I love novels, because novels are not just about what people do, but they’re about what people think.” — Carol Shields ( )
1 vote 1morechapter | Jan 4, 2012 |
A small, wonderful story. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
In "The Box Garden" Carol Shields tells us the life-affirming story of Charleen, a mother who finds courage where she thought she had none, and realizes that her erstwhile friends find it possible to act shockingly against her interests. One of the major treats in this book, besides Ms. Shields's main characters, is a very offbeat set of supporting characters, one of whom actually kidnaps Charleen's son as part of some deranged mission on Charleen's behalf.

The book is very sparse on description, but we follow Charleen's internal journey, which is set against the backdrop of a rail journey through Canada, to a rewarding job and a rewarding relationship. It's all told in wonderful, understated prose. I recommend it very highly.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2010/06/box-garden-by-carol-shields.html ( )
  LukeS | Mar 28, 2008 |
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For my son John
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What was it that Brother Adam wrote me last week?
The National Botanical Journal comes out quarterly, and except for selecting the articles which are to appear, I do everything. ... First I edit the manuscripts which is a long, picky and sensitive tightrope of a job; it is essential not to under-edit since clarity and a moderate level of elegance are desirable, but I must not over-edit and thereby obliterate personal style and perhaps injure the feelings of the submitting authors. (Will he object if I pencil out his "however"? Will he fly into a tantrum when I chop his sentences in two or sometimes three or even four? Will he mind if I switch the spellings to Canadian standard or rearrange the tangle of his footnotes?)
In spite of the statistics, in spite of the social tolerance, there is nothing in the world so heavy, so leaden, so painfully pressing as a love that has failed.
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Charleen is a divorcee in her mid-thirties, eking out a living as a poet and part-time assistant for an obscure scientific journal. Although she is quick to count her blessings - a son whom she loves, a blossoming relationship with a man, and friends who care about her - Charleen wonders how her life turned out the way it did. Is she a failure? Or is she still struggling to escape the limited world of her childhood? Her search for answers is as exasperating as the meager paycheck she takes to the bank every week. But when she returns home to attend her mother's wedding, Charleen is caught up in a series of unexpected - and terrifying - events. And in coping with these big and small emergencies, she is forced to come to terms with the life she has led and the decisions she has made
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140251367, Paperback)

Charleen, a divorced woman attending her widowed mother's second wedding, makes startling discoveries about other family members attending the reunion and achieves a new understanding of herself and her own life. Reprint.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A poet's struggle to make something of herself after her creative juices run dry. Although she has a son and a man who loves her, Charleen Forrest is still obsessed by the thought that she is a failure. The novel follows Charleen as she tries to sort herself out. By the author of The Stone Diaries for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.… (more)

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Average: (3.43)
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