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The Stone Diaries

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  29,616 Ratings  ·  1,441 Reviews
From her calamitous 1905 birth in Manitoba to her journey with her father to Indiana, throughout her years as a wife, mother, and widow, Daisy Stone Goodwill struggles to understand her place in her own life. Now, in old age, Daisy attempts to tell her life story. With irony and humor, Shields weaves together a story of a 20th century pilgrim in search of herself.
Audio, Abridged
Published October 1st 1995 by Penguin Audiobooks (first published 1993)
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Ben Worsley I was questioning the same. Maybe Shields wanted to suggest to the reader that Daisy was not just a character, a solid, concrete entity but a changing…moreI was questioning the same. Maybe Shields wanted to suggest to the reader that Daisy was not just a character, a solid, concrete entity but a changing and changeable idea, a not quite tangible presence; augmenting the tragedy of the story - that Daisy had a life but may not have "lived it deliberately."

Along those same lines, it was jarring to me when Shields briefly changed the perspective to first person, but I believe it may have been for similar reasons - to give the reader a jolt of observing a character's life vs. the feeling of inhabiting it.(less)
Ben Worsley That positively tore me up. Being a sentimental sap, the only rationalization I can give to keep that sentence from destroying my love of the book is…moreThat positively tore me up. Being a sentimental sap, the only rationalization I can give to keep that sentence from destroying my love of the book is to think it echoes the ideas that abound in the last several pages - that no person may be truly ready for death.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on that.(less)
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Nov 12, 2008 Tracey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer, book-club, own
I love this book. It has been 14 years since I have read it and I still remember clearly what it means to me:

Life is long....and in this long life you lead a series of mini-lives. In each "life" you become a different version of you. We are blessed with the chance and sometimes forced against our will to reinvent ourselves again and again until one day we are very old and find that we are living in Florida wearing polyester pantsuits. Did you ever imagine that would be you?

That person you marr
The Stone Diaries tells the story of Daisy Goodwill Flett's troubled life beginning and ending with sadness and death. There is so much to absorb about the character's in this short novel that I feel the need to read it again, and probably will at some point, but for now..........

Mercy, Mercy.......Cuyler Goodwill loved you so.......Why did you not share your secret?

I did like this somber 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner that does actually have a few laughs, and one shocker, but was somewhat annoyed

Nov 13, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A breathtaking and thoroughly original novel. I'm completely in awe of the choices Shields made in the shaping of this narrative. The whole is flawlessly cohesive. The parts are poetry unto themselves.

Essentially, it's a book about loneliness, every kind of loneliness: starved, suffocating, denied, cherished, physical, existential, or simply the result of petty misunderstanding. --And it's not always clear cut. She allows for ambiguity. She allows for the reader's subjective response, whatever t
Sep 11, 2013 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The type of book others rigorously want to imitate. That is, the elusive "turn of the century all American novel", with myriad glimpses at gorgeous post millennial metafiction. "The Stone Diaries" no doubt inspired other works of immeasurable brilliance like T. C. Boyle's "World's End" and Coetzee's "Elizabeth Costello"--it is heartbreaking, endearing, and, best of all, accessible. (Although the Puig-like tricks, that is, Latin American lit. concessions, are quite distinguishable.) The symbols o ...more
Jul 24, 2008 Suzanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book, but it was mostly because I didn't like the main character and her lack of personal substance. She never, ever, even once, feels any joy, passion, or grief. There is one period in her life where she appears to experience depression, but again, there is a lack of strong emotion, which really is typical of depression. A person who has three children, marries twice, and is widowed twice, usually experiences some sort of deep emotion. This flaw in her personality had me lack ...more
“My mother’s name was Mercy Stone Goodwill.” And so begins what appears at first to be an autobiography of a woman named Daisy but yet as the pages unfold, it becomes something unique, an outsider’s observation of someone’s actions or inner thoughts (though at times even the narrator, be it Daisy or another does not seem to know exactly what is going on). It seems at times to be a pseudo-biography, or perhaps (more apt), to be a philosophical treatise on human nature and a woman’s psyche, or may ...more
Dec 06, 2007 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book won a Pulitizer Prize in 1995, and it was an honor well deserved. I'd never even heard of it, I just picked up up at the Goodwill because the description on the back cover intrigued me, but once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.

The story is a fictionalized autobiography of one Daisy Goodwill Flett. Born around the turn of the 20th century and living until the 1980s, Shield's Flett reflects simultaneously on her own tragic life and the life of a North American century. The mix and
Dec 18, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada, fiction
It's ironic that I read this book while I was reading Sex and the City. The two novels are as disparate as different planets. One book is a about an ordinary housewife struggling with life's little trials, the other, a place peppered with big names and obscene money, fur coats and Lear jets.

Guess which one was better.

This book is phenomenal. It's probably the best book I've read in the last year. And it's funny to think about because there is no person, or plot twist, or moment that makes it m
Feb 27, 2013 Nranger7 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I cannot stand Pulitzer Prize winning books. I have yet to read one that I've enjoyed. I actually was disappointed that the author passed away simply because I couldn't tell her how much I disliked this book.

I'm guessing the changes from first person to third person were delibrate and artsy-fartsy, but I found it annoying. I barely got through the first chapter because I was sick and tired of the constant explanations of how the character of Mercy was a large woman. (I get it! She's fat
Oct 22, 2011 Dianne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know this won't win me any friends among Canadian readers, but I don't like Carol Shields writing. Granted I've only read this one through to the end. A few years ago I started another one and didn't like it either so I quit about a quarter of the way in. I suspected at the time I was not a "good" reader and that her books were over my head. I've gained some "reader confidence" since then and learned that it's ok to not like certain styles of writing just on the basis of personal taste. Hence ...more
Mar 30, 2009 Madeline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
"My mother's name was Mercy Stone Goodwill. She was only thirty years old when she took sick, a boiling hot day, standing there in her back kitchen, making a Malvern pudding for her husband's supper. A cookery book lay open on the table: 'Take some slices of stale bread,' the recipe said, 'and one pint of currants; half a pint of raspberries; four ounces of sugar; some sweet cream if available.' Of course she's didvided the recipe in half, there being just the two of them, and what with the scar ...more
#2016-usa-geography-challenge: INDIANA
#2016-aty-reading-challenge--week-15: a book set in the past (100 years ago)

I seem to have an affinity for novels about women's lives set in the past century. Perhaps it is because they give me glimpses about what my grandmother's and mother's lives might have been like. Some of my favorites include So Big and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The Stone Diaries now takes its place among these favorites. It is written as part autobiography/part biography by an omnisc
Mar 17, 2009 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sally by: Lewis Eng
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book was suggested for the Mostly Literary Fiction book group that I lead at the Hayward Public Library, and we read it for our May 2009 discussion. A poignant and extremely creative approach to the imagining of one fairly ordinary (and extraordinary, in its rendering) individual. My reading of this novel coincided with my 85-year-old mother's illness and hospitalization. I read parts of it while waiting with her in the emergency room, and the following day sitting by ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how utterly substantial this ordinary life tale runs. Having read this in my middle years, I now reread it within a completely different life period and enjoyed it even more. How rich the language, without having to use foul chorus calls of trite ranting or other slurs. It's absolutely delightful to read words such as "larky" again.

The life far less molded by electronic, media cultural standards. A life begun in great sorrow and also having patches of unsought fulfillment scattered along the
Thomas Strömquist
I've very ambivalent feelings about of this book. At places I think it's marvelously written and captivating as well as containing a number of nice and unusual narrative grips, such as telling an entire decade of the main characters life by only random correspondence (and only incoming letters, saved and read by the character herself).

At the same time, this and similar narrative techniques does not allow the reader to get to know the main character (and those around her) very well. A lot of act
Apr 13, 2012 Alena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true case of better late than never, I am so glad I finally read this book. It's both epic and humble, quiet and bold, a true masterpiece in both content and style.

We meet Daisy the moment she is born in 1905 and follow her life until it ends sometime in the 1990's. The book reads almost like an in-depth memoir, except that other perspectives (or versions of Daisy's story) keep breaking into the narrative. Shields also chooses the third person, even when we are reading Daisy's thoughts, which
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was my first Carol Shields and it won't be my last, in spite of the fact that I would place this at the bottom of my 4-star reads (or even top of 3-star if I were feeling stingy). I thought the story/characters not especially enjoyable. The presentation was very interesting, however. Shields used a variety of ways to tell the story - different first person narratives, third person narratives, letters, and a mixture of newspaper articles. Some of what she wrote I read several times.
His voic
Jun 12, 2015 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daisy Goodwill Flett is a 20th century Canadian-American woman. From birth to a poor quarry worker in 1905 to young small-town debutant in the 1920s, to June Cleaver knock-off in the 1950s to bridge-playing retiree in the 1980s to death in 1999, Daisy’s life parallels the popular image of women in those decades. This novel is rich with details, and it is the peripheral details that carry the story. Daisy’s story is told through pudding recipes and gardening column for a local paper, through her ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a terriffic novel. it is beautifully written and addresses some interesting ideas: the offhand catastrophes of everyday life; the way one person can casually devestate another without feeling a thing; the crime - and inevitability - of wasted time; the ability of women to suffer in silence to their dying breath; the impossibility of accurate autobiography; the sad ridiculousness of the idea that there is any justice to be had in this world.

the author treats her characters in this book a
Jul 05, 2007 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I enjoyed about this book is the perspective of the writing, or lack of. The chapters chronicles Daisy' life, but always from an external perspective. She is never the voice and rarely do we ever "hear" her speak. All the dialogue is provided by those around her and facts are her life are circumstantial. Hearing about her life from multiple voices make me question what are the real facts of her life, what parts are how she is perceived by others, and how she thinks she is perceived communic ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Gill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished reading this for the second time, the first time being several years ago. The more I read by Carol Shields, the more impressed I am by her writing skills. I think the structure of this book is excellent, and very, very skilled.
Feb 17, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"The Stone Diaries" is not action-packed. It is painfully and heartfully realistic. It is not just women's lit, as emotions and relationships are not the driving forces; it is also beautiful historic prose, set against the span of the 20th century. And it is not hopeful and mushy with happy-soul feelings at the end; but it is exquisite attempt to capture the complexities of one's life; one's family and friends; and one's place and purpose in this crazy, non-linear world.

Carol Shield's epic nove
I expected this to be dull, and embraced it with the gratitude the reader feels when the book turns out not to be dull at all. There were many elements I liked, beginning with the rare first-person omniscient point of view, making this a ‘fictitious autobiography.’ Usually you have to be dead (as in The Lovely Bones) or death itself (as in The Book Thief) to pull that pov off. There are parts of the book with input and letters from other characters, and there are parts which really seem to be in ...more
Dec 01, 2007 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this quite some time ago, and could never think of an adequate review. It's simply a wonderful book. It follows in exquisite detail the life of Daisy Stone in ten chapters: Birth 1905, Childhood 1916, Marriage 1927, Love 1936, Motherhood 1947, Work 1955-1964, Sorrow 1965, Ease 1977, Illness and Decline 1985, Death. Daisy's life is ordinary but utterly absorbing; through the years, the reader almost slips inside her skin, sharing her experiences.

A thought comes into her head: that
Like finding a shoebox in the attic.

Here is the life of Daisy presented mostly through narration, but buttressed by letters, tombstones, photographs (which occasionally contradict the narrative), words etched into a Victorian plate, a luncheon menu, Aunt Daisy's Lemon Pudding recipe, to-do lists, a list of books read and a sheet with every address Daisy lived.

People are introduced and explained, summed up, classified. I envy anyone able to boil down other people to an understandable core. Still
Andy Carrington
Sep 28, 2016 Andy Carrington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelved, life
I'm not one who takes to prize-winning books easily. But then again, I try not to pre-judge if I can help it.

I read this at Uni. Not spectacular by any means; but an interesting journey through the drudgery of work/everyday life.

The main theme here is identity, I think; and the narration often switches between 1st and 3rd person, making it come across as part autobiography/part biography.

There's a strong sense of realism (this might be categorised as "fiction", but the story very much real in it
Sep 18, 2015 eman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-friends
تخبرنا كارول شيلدز هنا عن لا معقوليتنا ، تخبرنا عن رتابة حيواتنا اليومية ، عن عجزنا عن فهم ذواتنا ،تحاول ذلك لنا من خلال إمرأة تكتب سيرتها الذاتية فنكتشف كلما أوغلنا في صفحاتها محدودية السير الذاتية .فإن كنا عاجزين عن تحديد أبعاد شخصياتنا ووجودنا الإنساني فلا شك أننا سنفشل في إيجاد صيغة ما نوصل بها للآخرين ما عشناه .

دايزي غودويل ؛والتي صارت فيما بعد دايزي فليت، توفت أمها ميرسي ستون غودويل أثناء ولادتها ، وترك والدها أمور رعايتها للجارة كلارينتاين فليت ؛من الولادة للطفولة والشباب مرورا بزواج فاشل
Zainab Alrifai
Jan 01, 2016 Zainab Alrifai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
سيرة حياة امرأة بدأً بطفولتها


فصول لا تُقرأ

خريف حياتها

محنتها واكتئابها

ألف خيبة أمل



كانت امرأة

الرواية جميلة جداً
ليست بالكآبة التي صورتها الاقتباسات فقط أنا أحببت هذا الجانب منها ..
Jan 13, 2008 Sommer added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sommer by: sadistic teacher
Ugh, love/hate relationship with this one... I read it for an English course in college where all of the required novels were Pulitzer Prize winners from the 90s. Again, I had a sadistic teacher who put together a list of the most depressing books to win in the 90s: The Hours, Mambo Kings, Rabbit at Rest, etc. Granted most of the winners in the 90s were works oozing depressive themes, he still could have inserted a more uplifting selection in there.

So basically this book was uber depressing when
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"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,
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Carol Ann Shields was an American-born Canadian author. She is best known for her successful 1993 novel The Stone Diaries, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as the Governor General's Award. Her novel Swann won the Best Novel Arthur Ellis Award in 1988.

More about Carol Shields...

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“There are chapters in every life which are seldom read, and certainly not aloud.” 39 likes
“Here's to another year and let's hope it's above ground.” 37 likes
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