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The Stone Diaries: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – September 30, 2008
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Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In "The Stone Diaries," Carol Shields attempts to chronicle the life of Daisy Goodwill. It is a life first told through the eyes of Daisy, and then through the eyes of those who presumably knew her best: her friends, children and relatives.
What is extraordinary about this book, is that one can look at a life lived in so many ways. Was Daisy Goodwill's life uneventful, lacking the excitement and freedom of her more worldly friends? Or was it a full, rich life? Only the reader can make this determination. But what is fascinating about "The Stone Diaries" is how the determination of the value of Daisy's life is so different, depending on the perspective that is taken. How much do we really know those people who we love the most? How well do we really know each other? I found this book to be a fascinating read, particularly for women who are living their life in full; however unfascinating and uneventful that may seem.
One cannot read The Stone Diaries without being struck by the style -- or rather styles -- in which it is written. While clearly fiction, Shields gives the appearance of journalism by including photographs purporting to be of the various characters. The photographs give one pause -- am I reading a novel trying to be non-fiction, or a fictionalized "real life" biography? Shields also changes style, form, and voice as she goes from chapter to chapter. For example, the chapter captioned "work" takes the form of a series of letters by and about Daisy's work as a newspaper writer. There is no "narrator" or chronicler; the story is told by one letter following the next. The chapter "Sorrow" takes the form of first-person opinions, by various persons in Daisy's life, as to why she is depressed. Again, Shields has no omniscient narrator. Other chapters are told by the more conventional, omniscient third-person narrator.
I found this a wonderful book, and recommend it highly. My wife, Carol, disagrees: "I wouldn't say that this is a "bad" book and not worth reading. It just seems to capture in a very stark way the extreme ordinariness of the lives of so many women. Admittedly, not all women are destined to great things, but somehow, even the most mundane of us--provided we have a jot of self awareness--hope (and pray) that our lives have some deeper meaning and that somehow our being alive has made a positive difference. Upon reflection, may be that's what this book is about. But I can't say that I finished it with the impression that the life of Daisy Stone was really that important in the grand scheme of things. For a reader whose life isn't really any more exciting than Daisy's--that was a frightening and frankly unpleasant conclusion."
Shields picks the most unlikely person to feature in a fictional book, Daisy Stone, whose life is mundane if not predictable. After an incredible birth and beginning, we travel with her through different years of her life, somewhat seemingly picked randomly. As we read each chapter, and witness the unveiling of her life, we begin to appreciate and realize that Daisy's life isn't extraordinary, but plain and common.
What is extraordinary is that Shields chooses to give a character like Daisy this incredible voice. Underrepresented in literature, women like these exist, they exist yesterday and will exist tomorrow. Sure, they have moments of brightness in their lives, in which we see in Daisy, but it never goes over the top.
What amazed me about this book was Shields extremely fluid writing style allows you to flow through this story as if it were unfolding before your very eyes. She allows different characters to pick up the story line, and share their viewpoints. Sometimes we hear Daisy, sometimes we hear a third person narrator. Sometimes we aren't even privy to who is speaking. Shields takes amazing leaps in her writing, trusting her reader to make those connections.
I'm saddened by the loss of Carol Shields, but gladdened to know that she's left gifts of literature to discover. In the meantime, if you want a broad, amazing story, pick up Stone Diaries.