Monday 2 February 2015

Shields, Carol "The Stone Diaries"

Shields, Carol "The Stone Diaries" - 1993

An interesting book about an interesting life.  So far, I had only read Carol Shield's book about Jane Austen but somehow, this fiction book of hers has escaped me.

I like books with a map or a family tree in the back. This is one. I love being able to go back and forth and see who is connected to whom, where they come from, what is going to come next, even though sometimes I am annoyed that it spoils part of the book for me because I already know that someone is going to die soon or getting married etc.

Having said that, "The Stone Diaries" would be comprehensible even without that family tree. Daisy Stone Goodwill goes through many hardships in her life, being born an orphan under weird circumstances, she manages her life quite well. She is a smart woman and gets an education at a time where that is far from the norm for any woman let alone one in her circumstances.

While reading this, I often wondered how much of Carol Shields is in this fictional autobiography of Daisy Goodfellow. There is everything about life in this book, birth and death, marriage and divorce, education and work, problems with parents and children, just anything a normal life encounters.

A good read.

From the back cover:

"The Stone Diaries is one ordinary woman's story of her journey through life. Born in 1905, Daisy Stone Goodwill drifts through the roles of child, wife, widow, and mother, and finally into her old age. Bewildered by her inability to understand her place in her own life, Daisy attempts to find a way to tell her story within a novel that is itself about the limitations of autobiography. Her life is vivid with incident, and yet she feels a sense of powerlessness. 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 misconnections she discovers between. Daisy's struggle to find a place for herself in her own life is a paradigm of the unsettled decades of our era. A witty and compassionate anatomist of the human heart, Carol Shields has made distinctively her own that place where the domestic collides with the elemental. With irony and humor she weaves the strands of The Stone Diaries together in this, her richest and most poignant novel to date."

Carol Shields received the Pulitzer Prize for "The Stone Diaries" in 1995.

This is also a book about reading, a lot of books are mentioned in the novel:

Books Clarentine read:
Libby, Laura Jean "Struggle for a Heart"
Alexander, Mrs. "What Gold Cannot Buy"
Warden, Florence "At the World's Mercy"
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre"
Other books mentioned: (see below in alphabetical order, at least those that I could find)
Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, Freckles, Twice Told Tales, Beautiful Joe, Mill on the Floss, Pocahontas, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, Jane Eyre, The Unification of Italy, Beowulf, the Romantic Poets, In His Steps, Wild Geese, Gone With the Wind, Claudia, The First Six Years, The Grapes of Wrath, Forever Amber, The Egg and I, Cheaper by the Dozen, Lust for Life, the Web and the Rock, The Skutari Babies, Our Mutual Friend, Nellie's Memories, Helen's Saga, A Brief History of the Orkney Isles, Chekhov's Daughter, The Edible Woman, The Good Earth, Murder in the Meantime.

Alphabetical list:
Arnim, Elizabeth von "Elizabeth and Her German Garden"
Atwood, Margaret "The Edible Woman"
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre"
Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth"
Carey, Rosa Nouchette "Nellie's Memories"
Dickens, Charles "Our Mutual Friend"
Donnell, Susan "Pocahontas"
Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss"
Franken, Rose "The Claudia Novels"
Gilbreth, Frank + Gilbreth Carey, Elizabeth "Cheaper by the Dozen"
Hawthorne, Nathaniel "Twice Told Tales"
MacDonald, Betty "The Egg and I"
Mitchell, Margaret "Gone With the Wind"
Montgomeray, Lucy Maud "Anne of Green Gables"
Saunders, Margaret Marshall "Beautiful Joe"
Sewell, Anna "Black Beauty"
Sheldon, Charles "In His Steps"
Steinbeck, John "The Grapes of Wrath"
Stone, Irving "Lust for Life"
Stratton-Porter, Gene "Freckles"
Winsor, Kathleen "Forever Amber"
Woolfe, Thomas "The Web and the Rock"


  1. Not familiar with her at all, will have to see if my library has this one.

    1. Someone suggested it in a group on Facebook and I thought it sounded interesting. I did borrow mine from the library. Maybe you are not so familiar with her because she is a Canadian author. I know from my Canadian friends that a lot of their authors don't really "make" it South of the border (but they often do in the UK).

      I know you like Jane Austen. Her biography of our mutual favourite author is very good, too.

      Happy reading,