The Stone Diaries

Born in 1905, Daisy Goodwill drifts through the chapters of childhood, marriage, widowhood, remarriage, motherhood and old age. Bewildered by her inability to understand her own role, Daisy attempts to find a way to tell her own story within a novel that is itself about the limitations of autobiography.

The Stone Diaries is a truly sumptous novel that reflects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century.
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Carol Shields has explored the mysteries of life with abandon, taking unusual risks along the way. The Stone Diaries reminds us again why literature matters."
- The New York Times Book Review

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Winner Pulitzer Prize 1995
Winner Governor General's Award 1993
Winner McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award 1993
Shortlisted Man Booker Award 1993
Winner Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award — Author of the Year 1994
Nominated National Book Critics Circle Award 1994
Nominated International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Nominated New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Nominated Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year — Adult

...Shields's storytelling is at its most ambitious and compelling."
- The Toronto Star                                        

A beautiful, darkly ironic novel of misunderstanding and missed opportunites."
- Esquire                                         


Men and Women, Forever Misaligned
New York Times
March 27, 1994, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

The Stone Diaries reviewed by Jay Parini

CAROL SHIELDS, the American-born Canadian novelist and story writer, is often mentioned in the same breath with Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, and her last novel, "The Republic of Love," attracted a small but enthusiastic band of admirers, myself among them. Last year "The Stone Diaries" was nominated for Britain's Booker Prize and acclaimed by many reviewers there. Now it has been published here, and it deserves our fullest attention.

The novel provides, glancingly, a panorama of 20th-century life in North America. Written in diary format, it traces the life of one seemingly unremarkable woman: Daisy Goodwill Flett, who is born in 1905 and lives into the 1990's. "The Stone Diaries" includes an elaborate family tree of the sort usually found in biographies as well as eight pages of family photographs. Surveying the faces in these photos of Ms. Shields's sharply drawn characters, the reader naturally wonders: are these "real" people or the made-up kind?

A wise and unusual novel that makes the ordinary extraordinary...Shields reveals the mysteries of love, culture and spirituality shimmering beneath the surface of a quiet woman's life."
- Elle

The Stone Diaries is something else again; one woman's entire fictitious life, from the remarkable story of her birth to her unresigned death....the result as compelling as eavesdropping."
- Tatler

Interview with Carol Shields

Diane Rehm - Public Radio Washington, March 31, 1994
(Transcribed from audio tape.)

DR: Good morning and welcome back to the Diane Rehm show on 88.5 FM. In Carol Shields' latest novel The Stones Diaries it is easy to confuse fact with fiction. The novel has all the trappings of reality as it traces the life story of Daisy Stone Goodwill from her birth in rural Canada in 1905 to her decline and death in a Florida nursing home nine decades later. Diary entries, third party perspectives and even family photographs seem to offer a thorough account of one woman's relatively ordinary life. But these many details pose more questions than answers as the author explores the essential mystery of all our lives. The book was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize last year and recently published in the United States. Carol Shields joins me in the studio this morning to talk about her new book, her career as a novelist, poet and playwright. We'll take your calls all through the hour on 885-8850. Carol Shields good morning to you.
CS: Good morning.
DR: You've described The Stone Diaries as a nesting of Russian dolls, a novel that's like a box within a box within a box. What do you hope that readers are going to discover as they open this book?
CS: I hope readers will be curious about the life of this so-called "ordinary" woman, about the layers of complexity beneath the surface. I hope that they can place Daisy in the context of our century which is one of the things I was interested in looking at when I started out with this novel. Because, like a lot of people, I'm a bit scared about entering the next century and seem to spend a lot of time these days thinking about what these 100 years have brought us and where they have delivered us. So I wanted this novel to start at the beginning of the century and I wanted Daisy's life to parallel - more or less - the life of this century.

Discussion Questions

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Further Praise...

A kind of family album made into a work of art"
- New York Newsday

a small miracle of a novel, a rock-solid monument to the ephemeral nature of all lives"
- MacLean's

a beautifully considered paean to the private stories we all cherish"
- The Boston Globe

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