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This is a story of a woman’s life from birth to death as viewed through the eyes of those who knew her....or thought they knew her. “The self is not a thing carved on entablature”, a line from the book, captures the essence of the story. In addition to being a fascinating novel, the way the story is presented is also interesting...assembled from so many pieces of a life leaving the reader wondering also about who, exactly, this woman is/was. Much of it captures the lives of women today everywhere, a hundred years removed from the birth of the main character.
This is the life story of Daisy Goodwill from beginning to the end. Daisy becomes a witness to her own life of sorrow and transformation. She becomes a different version of herself through her struggles and triumphs.
It all fits together for the reader.
Quite a book when it was first published in 1993 and still worthy of its Pulitzer prize now.
Well written and a good story. Unfortunately, I have been working with a lot of people who are legitimately enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I got a little tired of hearing how tragically this over privileged woman has suffered. I kept thinking "oh boo hoo...." you know nothing of suffering..quit whining and give some of that money that dropped in your lap to the poor and legitimately needy.
Protagonist Daisy Goodwill claims “she would have to rescue [her life] by a primary act of imagination” and then author Carol Shields proceeds to have her tell her life story from birth to death. She speaks in both the first person and (mostly) third person, making it a kind of historical fiction … which is what we all do when you think about it – we project our own ideas into the minds of others as we selectively recall and narrate our own stories. This is a story about identity and self-concept and, as Daisy says, “Life is an endless recruiting of witnesses”. Carol Shields writes with rich language and imagery as she delves into the inner life of Daisy.
This is a sad saga but despite that, I really enjoyed it. It made me think of my parents and grandparents. I enjoyed the fact the much of the story took place in Ottawa, where I now live!
I found the family tree unusual but very useful in figuring out all the characters in the novel.
I recently saw a paper version of this novel on display of the Governor General's Award for Literature winners in the lobby of the Canadian Art Bank Building at 150 Elgin Street. This exhibition is well worth a visit!
The Stone Diaries is the fictional autobiography of Daisy Goodwill. Since we follow her through most of the 20th Century, the novel serves as a diary of that period of time as well. Daisy’s existence is not an epic one, in the sense that she doesn’t go on great adventures, but it is precisely her mundane anonymity that allows us to deeply connect with her and to discover the uniqueness of her life.
Carol Shields was a very pleasant surprise for me. In this novel, which garnered her the Pulitzer Prize and the Governor General's Award, among others, her writing is so rich and witty that every page of the novel is an absolute delight. If you like authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields' The Stone Diaries is a must-read.
This book has won several awards for a reason. It is an excellent read for those who have suffered the loss of love from parents, true loves, true friends, and true connections (home). It will make you laugh and out right cry... a lot; however, if you don't share similar experiences this book will not be enjoyed to the full extent... come back to it in ten years :)
Telling of this tale is circlar, talking in circles. It takes a while to get into the story about Daisy and her history that comes from her parents joining, but also the people who raise her. Now she will have issues of abandonment, love, loss, and finding her way. But as she comes into adulthood she experiences some rough situations, whereby she is trying to find herself. But will a visit back to one of her guardians help her situation? Follow the circle and see where she ends up...OK read.
Shields writes the biography of Daisy, an educated woman born in 1905. When Daisy is engaged to be married, her future mother-in-law delivers an amusing set of instructions which include "When you set the table, be sure the knife blade is turned in. Tomato juice ought never be served at breakfast." Shields is a keen observer of people and situations, often leading to humor or recognition that we have experienced that, too. Near the end of the book she asks, "What is the story of a life? A chronicle of fact or a skillfully wrought impression?" It is up to each reader to answer this.
I have tried to read this book several times. And each time I have found that it is really about a lot of nothing and a little something. In fact the main character, someone who has at the least a very interesting story and at the most would otherwise be a very tragic figure, is relatively untouched by her life and doesn''t seem to touch any other lives either. In fact, she seems to float through the milestones of her existance without a care in the world. And when really big things happen to her that shock the reader, the author (whose point of view is ever changing from first person to third person omniscient rather erratically) leaves the reader with too many questions in the end. Although Shields words are lyrical at times, this is a book I would not recommend for everyone.