Suzanna's Reviews > The Stone Diaries

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
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Sep 19, 08

Read in September, 2008

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 lacking empathy with her.

It seems the author's basic premise is that the main character, Daisy, lacks strong emotion because she was not raised by her biological mother, who was herself an orphan, and that these things have some how caused both her and her mother to be inherently flawed. (Either that or Daisy has physically inherited this dysfunction from her mother, but I lean toward the former because of some passages in the story.) They lack passion and passionate expression. Daisy never hears she is loved, nor do you find love expressed by her; her mother, Mercy, never said she loved nor otherwise expressed love, although she was loved greatly and with deep passion by Daisy's father.

What I did like most was the author's use of symbolism. Stones and flowers are heavily used, perhaps overly so at times. There is the building of monuments by Daisy's father (of course made of stone), his life as a quarryman, Daisy's gardens, her second husband's love and knowlege of plants, names of characters, and much more. If that sort of thing excites you, you might love this book for that alone.

I would also like to say I'm surprised so many reviewers found this book "funny". I thought it was terribly depressing. There are a few amusing passages, but I couldn't see calling the book as a whole funny.

And lastly, it is strange to me that this is considered a fictional autobiography. Most of the time it is third person narrative; granted, there are points when Daisy is apparently refering to herself in the third person (as Mrs. Flett or some such, which I found a bit disturbing). I suppose it helps contribute to that feeling of her lack of sense of self, the void within her life that she herself doesn't really fill - is not capable of filling. There are other times it does not feel like her voice, just narrative, and there is just a small portion of the book that is in first person. It does not feel at all like a diary, which again may be for the effect of distancing the main character from herself. Someone with this personality disorder might write a memoir in this manner and call it a diary, I suppose. And it does cover Daisy's life from beginning to end.

The novel's well written, and I think the author achieved what she set out to do. Overall, just not my cup of tea.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Brigitte (new)

Brigitte thank you for your detailed comments. If I cannot get into a book within 100 pages then I often wonder if it is worth my mine. I will either leave this one off or add to the end of my list.... thanks.


Carolyn Dorstek Thank you for your review. I just finished this book yesterday and am still disturbed by it. Your comments helped me to put things in perspective. I did not consider that Daisy had a disorder until I read your review. I thought it might have something to do with the repressive nature of the time period in which she lived. On second thought though, her best friend, "Fraidy," had no such problem with life so it likely was a disorder this author was trying to get across.


Tracy Your review reminds me why I originally detested Jane Eyre. With a different perspective, JE is now one of my favorite books. The title of this novel is apt. Like a stone, the characters are stoic and unyielding. Hence their boring lives...


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