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Collected Stories

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  646 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews

With the profound maturity and exquisite eye for detail that never failed to capture readers of her prize-winning novels, Carol Shields dazzles with these remarkable stories. Generous, delightful, and acutely observed, this essential collection illuminates the miracles that grace our lives; it will continue to enchant for years to come.

Paperback, 593 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2004)
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Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, short-fiction, 2012
October 2012

I don't use the word "lovely" very often, but this is. These are. Something. You get what I'm saying. I bought this collection a few years ago because it was on sale and was called "Collected Stories" (more bang for my buck!), and I nearly culled it from my shelves last month, to make room for other books, because while I still like Collected Stories, I wasn't sure if I would like Carol Shields. She's Canadian, isn't she? Isn't that a synonym for boring? Non-violent, non-Southern, no
Jenny Shank
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A writer's triumph
New collection showcases Shields' tremendous talent
Jenny Shank, Special to the News
Published February 18, 2005 at midnight

Of the three great contemporary Canadian fiction writers - Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields - Shields is probably the most obscure to American audiences. That is, if anyone who has won a Pulitzer Prize - as the American-born Shields did in 1995 for Stone Diaries - can be called obscure.

While The New Yorke
Judith Shadford
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astonishing collection ranging from one story in which the letter "i" is omitted...and a super story it the initial story "Segue"--so beautifully written (about composing a sonnet on the aging of her body) with all of Shields' command of language.
In "Soup du Jour" a little boy is sent to the store to get something...he can't remember what. "He freezes, hugs the points of his elbows, thinking hard, bringing the whole of his ten years into play...." And then he remembers: "At that mome
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her story "Mirrors" won an O. Henry. Deservedly so. "Mirrors" is one of my all-time favorite short stories. It captures a long, enduring marriage in its few pages. And what Shields accomplished with the motif of the mirror is truly astounding. Ultimately, all marriages are mirrors and Shields deftly shows us how and why.

I've read and enjoyed all the collected stories of Carol Shields. She is perhaps more known for her novels, but I think it is in her short fiction where her skill truly shines. S
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things occurred to me as I read Carol Shields’ Collected Works. The first is that these stories struck me as not nearly as joyful as all the critics, and even the jacket cover claims them to be; and secondly: We’re all in this together. Among the fifty-six stories that make up Shields’ life collection of short stories, some are quirky and playful, many are hilarious, and a happy ending is almost guaranteed.
“Mirrors,” is a story about a husband and a wife who have forsworn mirrors in their
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review published in the New Zealand Herald, 21 May 2005
Collected Stories
Carol Shields
(HarperCollins, $29.99)
Reviewed by Philippa Jamieson

So you think short stories aren't your thing? Have you ever tried Carol Shields? She is better known for her novels, like The Stone Diaries, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, but these stories are so thoughtful, exquisite and haunting that it's easy to keep turning the pages. This chunky paperback brings together Shields' three short story collections, plus
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories are clever, lovely, and frank. Whenever I got tired of the hard action of high fantasy, or the bleakness of sci-fi, I came back to these stories. They restored my interest and faith in the beauty of language and also how slice-of-life stories can be touching without being cloying.

Compared to the other books I've been reading, these stories were very down-to-earth, although Shields does have a few amusing jaunts into magical realism. I liked how there wasn't something that had to h
Elizabeth Lister
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, full of metaphor, depth and imagery, but not exactly cheerful. Loved the writing though :)
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This woman understands so much about the human condition! And her stories create 'perfect' moments in the lives of people we care about, and with whom we can empathise.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the first three-quarters of this wonderful collection, astounded by Shields' amazing prose, her ability to see the most mundane of things and bring them to life...but lost interest near the end. Not sure whether the stories weren't as good or whether I was needing a break from the strange mostly sad and lost characters inhabiting her collection. Highly recommended though and you must read her Stone Diaries - one of my top five books EVER.
Cindy May
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this collection of short stories - my two favorites being "The Journal" and "Hinterland" because I felt I could really relate to both on such a personal level (esp "The Journal").

I would definitely recommend this book to others.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cbr9
A diverse, if uneven, collection of short stories that run a gamut of experiences and feature an array of characters and perspectives.
Monique Stevens
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delicious writing! I like to twirl it around in my glass like a fine wine! She perfected the art of the short story.
Nov 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a really long collection of short-stories. I started reading it with great enjoyment but ended it somewhat bored. I'd advise anyone not to read this all in one go because it gets repetitive: many of the themes are found all throughout the book (namely practically all the stories are about a couple, often a middle-aged couple, travelling through Europe, or the characters are writers or great academics). I feel I'd have enjoyed it more if I had taken a break between the 3 books condensed i ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Shields, a critically acclaimed Canadian writer who died in 2003, was best known for fictionalizing the lives of women. In this collection she shows her wider range. Most critics recommend these stories for any Shields fan and as a starting point for new readers. Only The New York Times Book Review described her work as "sometimes mannered linguistic musings" that "conjure up a very writerly writer honing her technical and theoretical skills and paying little attention to conventions of plot and

Eternally  Dreaming of Libraries
I'm going ahead and marking this book as read now, even though I did not finish the entire collection. I read most of the stories in this collection. However, it is a book I will need to take a break from before coming back to it. I really enjoyed the stories. Carol Shields focuses on such positive, uplifting themes in her writing which I really needed at the time I picked up this collection. I like how she takes such commonplace occurrences and makes us see them in an enhanced way. It was reall ...more
I loved and still love Carol Shields' work. 'The Stone Diaries' was take your breath away beautiful all the way through, 'Larry's Party', and 'Unless' also great. So, I had high expectations for this story collection. It's ok in places, good to very good in others. Actually, it's a mixed bag, probably because it ranges over her whole career. Also, sometimes an author is a better novelist than short story writer or vise versa. I don't know. The truth is I haven't finished the book. I still enjoyi ...more
Not your typical short stories.
Very few had a plot or even central conflict. It's more like you're a fly and you buzz in and out of homes to witness snippets of life happening all over space and time.

Many of the characters are middle-aged, often divorced or in unhappy marriages (sometimes just co-habituating) and/or there has been infidelity in the relationships.

Some of the stories are peculiar, making me wonder if I totally missed the point once I got to the end. Perhaps I did, as I raced thro
Adrienn Mendonca-Jones
Carol Shields is an unending source of inspiration for those of us wishing to conquer the short story form.

Probably best known for The Stone Diaries, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, I think she was enormously gifted at the short story form. With it, she achieved amazing insights into (mostly) the lives of women, though she's an equal-opportunity inspector. I highly recommend her to those of you looking for new ways to work with this form, or for people who just want a little nugget to thi
When the stories are not about women in their 40s-60s who have a literary bent and are married to similarly literary-ish men, then things become interesting. Unfortunately, the main female character in most of the stories is not full of enough interesting thoughts or insights to hold my attention. She feels dry and dulled by life. I want to shake her and tell her to travel to Angola, or at least Arkansas, and do something interesting or reflect more deeply, for god's sake.
Lindsey Wolkin
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carol Shields is undoubtedly one of the finest writers out there. I hate that she gets pegged as a writer of "the everyday" because her stories are so much more than that. While she might begin with the "everyday," there is always a twist, an element of magic, a spiritual transcendence, and a lot of subtle, unconventional movement that makes reading this collection so intriguing. If you prefer novels read her last novel "Unless."
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three collection form this book: "Various Miracles"; "The Orange Fish"; "Dressing Up For Carnival".
I liked best the short stories from "Various Miracles"; from "The Orange Fish" I really liked only the first one. "Dressing Up For Carnival" stands somewhat in the middle.
All in all a fresh and simple style that I enjoyed.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kokoelman lukemiseen meni yllättävän pitkä aika, ehkä siksi että luin kirjaa lähinnä ennen nukkumaanmenoa, muutaman tarinan kerrallaan. Shieldsin tyylissä on jotakin vetoavaa, niin helposti hän luo erittäin tarkkanäköisiä kuvauksia pienistä, mutta tärkeistä asioista. Tykkäsin ja luen varmasti jatkossa lisää Shieldsiä.
Bernie Mccann
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Windows' is among the gems that make this collection invaluable. In what daydream does the window tax exist? How could two human beings, to whom light means so much, resign themselves so easily to boarding up their home to avoid paying the tax for the privilege of taking in a beautiful view to the outdoor world?
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether exploring the hidden webs of memory, the slow fracture of relationships (or the seemingly small but poignant moments that build them), or the way a single place or event connects us all, these stories are direct, intricate, and immediately personal. Shields is gently deprecating and never sentimental. A true master class in short story writing.
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shields seems to string stories together adding bits as they occur to her in a "stream of consciousness" style. Reading this collection reveals her technique in the novels. She is a fascinating author, somehow being funny while dealing with unfunny subjects. The humanity of her characters shines through, that's how she does it. Highly recommended.
Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol Shields' strength lies in her ability to craft precise descriptions of moments... Her most interesting stories come from the first 2 vollumes, while the last collection felt more experimental and to me, somewhat less enjoyable. But her prose is always a pleasure to savour...
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed some of the stories in this massive collection, but its sheer size made it a tiresome read. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd "sampled" the stories instead of trying to read it as a cohesive volume.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to read these, a few at a time and leaving it alone for a bit. Excellent.

I picked this up for $3 at Half Price. I don't like short stories, usually, but I love Carol Shields, and these are great so far!
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol Shields can write, with a capital W. I might not have relished every story in this 55-story collection (all 3 of Shields' short story anthologies collected), but I loved the writing in every single one.
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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...
“I presented him with an African violet, which I saw as symbolically useful, though I’m not sure the others understood the subtleties. (African violets must be watered from the bottom, not the top, and this, I believe, is analogous to the writing of sonnets in the twenty-first century.)” 3 likes
“I reminded the reporter that sonnet means “little sound.” “Oh,” she said, and I could tell by the way her pen jumped in her hand that she was charmed by the idea; people almost always are. Sonnets are taken so strenuously, so literally, when taught at school, or at least they used to be, and the definition—fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter—hardens and ends up gesturing toward an artifact, an object one might construct from a kit. But if you picture the sonnet, instead, as a little sound, a ping in the great wide silent world, you make visible a sudden fluidity to the form, a splash of noise, but a carefully measured splash that’s saved from preciosity by the fact that it comes from within the body’s own borders; one voice, one small note extended, and then bent; the bending is everything, the volta, the turn, and also important is where it occurs within the sonnet’s “scanty plot of ground,” to quote old Wordsworth. From there the “little sound” sparks and then forms itself out of the dramatic contrasts of private light and darkness.” 2 likes
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