Carol Shields’ tender, funny
and wonderfully insightful portrait of two sisters
struggling to rediscover themselves amidst the perplexing
swirl of family life. Judith
is a biographer whose life is subsumed by others:
her eccentric husband, her secretive children and
the Victorian novelist who is her subject. Her sister
Charleen is a single mother and lapsed poet. As their
mother’s wedding approaches, both sisters must come
to terms with the paths they have chosen.
Originally published as two
companion novels: Small
Ceremonies and The
here to order.
I've always thought of my first two books as 'companion'
novels, a term I seem to have invented. Small Ceremonies
was published in 1976, and, a year later, 1977, came
The Box Garden. There is no sense of this second book
being a sequel to the first, but a number of threads
connect them. Above all, they are about two women, Judith
and Charleen, who happen to be sisters. The mother of
the two women also appears in both novels. Mrs McNinn
is a sour, disenfranchised housewife whose only relief
is found in the manic redecorating of her small suburban
house. Judith, a biographer, is scarcely touched by
her mother's narrowness; Charleen, on the other hand,
has always been thwarted by her bitter mother. These
are both short novels, and the idea of publishing them
together makes sense to me. Each enriches and fills
out the other, and together they lead to the sisters'
discovery of what their mother really is; an artist
who, like themselves, stumbles toward that recognition."
- Carol Shields
Why So Gloomy?
January 7, 1996, Late Edition - Final
By Claire Messud
SMALL CEREMONIES By Carol Shields. THE BOX GARDEN
By Carol Shields.
DISCOVERY by the broader public
of a writer in midcareer entails a particular delight:
the revelation not simply of a single book but of a substantial
and satisfying body of work. This is certainly the case
with Carol Shields, whose novel ''The Stone Diaries''
captured last year's Pulitzer Prize and National Book
Critics Circle Award for fiction -- as well as the rapt
attention of a vast new readership. In spite of its notable
success, this eloquent work was not a radical departure
for its author: her subtle and slyly amusing renditions
of ordinary life have been celebrated among a dedicated
coterie of admirers for 20 years. Now, at last, Ms. Shields's
earliest novels -- published in Canada in the mid-1970's
-- are widely available in the United States.
…Carol Shield’s prose is addictive.
Her writing is both smoothly intelligent and sensually
immediate, conflating concrete domestic realities
with the elemental and miraculous.’
- Sunday Telegraph
Shields is about the best we have.
She does not just express what oft was thought; she
snags the shadows of those thoughts, the thoughts
we did not know we had. The effect – at once elating
and visceral – feels like a conjurer pulling a handkerchief
from your heart.’
For more information, see Small
Ceremonies and The
this book | Top ]