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The Stone Diaries

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  34,267 ratings  ·  1,632 reviews
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 au ...more
Paperback, 361 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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Jeanne Mixon The thing that really struck me at the end of her life was when she thought about how she knew she had been loved but no one had ever said I love you…moreThe thing that really struck me at the end of her life was when she thought about how she knew she had been loved but no one had ever said I love you to her out loud and I thought maybe that was her greatest loss. She had lost her mother and really her father too at birth and she married a man who carelessly destroyed her incidentally with his own act of self destruction and then she was forced to marry her "cousin" of sorts in desperation to escape her father's home and her own scandal. so she never successfully chose love for herself and she says no one ever expressed love for her. She had her children and her "grandchild" Victoria, but apparently they were not enough. She never had the love of a parent and she never had the true love of a spouse.(less)
Jeanne Mixon I think Daisy is supposed to be a sort of everywoman for women of that generation and even for women today -- that the questions about herself and her…moreI think Daisy is supposed to be a sort of everywoman for women of that generation and even for women today -- that the questions about herself and her relationship to others that she wrestled with were questions that every woman faces from time to time. Like the question of being loved enough or loving others enough or finding fulfillment in work or staying home and caring for children. And the summing up at the end of all the things she didn't do and all the things she achieved -- was it enough? I think these are things women wrestle with all their lives.(less)

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3.86  · 
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 ·  34,267 ratings  ·  1,632 reviews

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Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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

Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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, quite accessible. (Although the Puig-like tricks, that is, Latin American lit. concessions, are quite distinguishable.) The sym ...more
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
#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
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, canada
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.

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 memorable. Each and every pag
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
“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
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 30, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Claire Fuller
I read this when it first came out in paperback in 1994 (in fact it still has the Dillons sticker on the back), but I couldn't remember anything about it, except that I'd loved it. This time I read it as a writer, and although I found some faults with the story (it's the whole life of Daisy Flett) - too many extraordinary things happen, and yet not enough happens - I also really appreciated how well written it is, how Shields keeps us in suspense by using backstory, how she seamlessly flits arou ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book by Carol Shields of Daisy Goodwill's life story. It is kind of unusual in that it goes through Daisy's life as she tries to find her place in the world. And did she? I don't really know. But it was interesting to go through it with her.
What I liked the most was Shields' writing style. It was very beautiful (I especially enjoyed the first section about Daisy's birth). Written in 'sections' of Daisy's life from birth through death, some go back in time and tell the history of
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
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
یک زن میتواند تصویری از آرامش و درونی از اندوه باشد
میتوان همسر، مادر بزرگ و عزیز بسیاری از افراد بود و همچنان جسم سنگین تنهایی مثل سایه ای پشت هر ثانیه از زندگی خودش را پنهان کند.
داستانی گره خورده بر بستر سنگ ها ، چه قصه ی زیبا و عجیبی
دفترچه خاطرات سنگی به قلم کارول شیلدز، نویسنده محبوب من در زمینه ادبیات زنان روایتی از زندگی زنی است که( به نظر من ) زندگیش از تاروپود وقاعی بیشتر غریب تا دردناک بافته شده است
زنی که احساس میکنم دستش هرگز به خودش نرسید و دیسی گودویل در منتها الیه وجود خانم فلت غرق و
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 01, 2007 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
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Wow, this novel is the perfect example of what happens when you least expect it.

I knew nothing about this book, I'd never heard of it or its author, and I found the cover unappealing.

And, yet, it's one of the best, most meaningful stories I've ever read.

It won the Pulitzer Prize for 1995, which is the only reason I picked it up. Then, I couldn't put it down.

This is one of those life-altering novels, a big picture story, upsetting and wonderful at the same time.

I can't quite recommend it enou
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Andy Carrington
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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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.

“There are chapters in every life which are seldom read, and certainly not aloud.” 44 likes
“Here's to another year and let's hope it's above ground.” 43 likes
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