The Stone Diaries Paperback – 1994
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‘I can think of few novels containing so much that is resonant and unforgettable, or that invite the reader to participate so fully and rewardingly. “The Stone Diaries” is a triumphant and important book and deserves a wide audience.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Rapturous, sensitive and funny.’ Guardian
‘Carol Shields is an exceptionally sympathetic and involving novelist.’ Independent on Sunday
‘It is wonderful. A treat.’ Joanna Trollope-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
From the Back Cover
WINNER OF THE 1995 PULITZER PRIZE
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
This is the story of Daisy Goodwill, from her birth on a kitchen floor in Manitoba, Canada, to her death in Florida nursing home nearly ninety years later. Her ordinary life is made extraordinary in the telling.
WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S AWARD FOR FICTION (CANADA) 1993
THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD (US)1995
Top customer reviews
It is an unusual narrative about the life of Daisy Goodwill, that is luminous in its ordinariness. Atwood's introduction sums it up best: "Human life is a mass of statistics only for statisticians: the rest of us live in a world of individuals, and most them are not prominent. Their joys, however, are fully joyful, and their griefs are real. It was the extraordinariness of ordinary people that was Shields's forte."
Daisy is a first-person narrator who refers to herself in the third person, possessing a kind of omniscience that is unusual but nonetheless successfully executed. The reader finds out she is a mistress of reinvention and she makes that the basis of her life story, wilful distorting and embellishing her account, even in its seemingly unspectacular linear sequence from her birth, her childhood, marriage and love (yes in that sequence), motherhood, and eventually death.
But it is only almost midway through her narrative that she makes these illuminating self-reflexive comments which strangely makes visible her sleight of hand: "Maybe now is the time to tell you that Daisy Goodwill has a little trouble with getting things straight; with the truth, that is." And she justifies her embellishments by relating to a more general truth about how we view our past: "Well, a childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction. Which is why you want to take Daisy's representation of events with a grain of salt, a bushel of salt. She is not always reliable when it comes to the details of her life; much of what she has to say is speculative, exaggerated, wildly unlikely."
The momentous events leading up to her birth at the start of the novel is wilfully withheld in her telling, and she forestalls her narrative until she is sure the reader is kept fully under the suspense she has created. Daisy is a crafty autobiographer, and that is half the enjoyment, as the reader joins her in relishing her power over her narrative: "Still, hers is the only account there is, written on air, written with imagination's invisible ink."
Shields has opined in an interview appended at the end of the novel, presumably inspired by Gissing, that "Biography is subject to the warps and gasps of admiration or condemnation, but fiction respects the human trajectory". And by melding the two in her fictional biography of sorts, she has given order to fiction in an unexpected and refreshing way.
"Standing in her back kitchen, my mother's thighs, like soft white meat (veal or chicken or fatty pork come to mind) rub together under her cotton drawers - which are wet, she suddenly realizes, soaked through and through. There are double and triple ruffles of fat around her ankles and wrists, and these ridged extremities are slick with perspiration. Her large swollen fingers press into the boards of the kitchen table, and her left hand, her wedding ring buried there in soft flesh, is throbbing with poison."
With an opening like this I thought that once again our book club had come up with a really good book, but unfortunately, after this wonderful description of an obese woman about to give birth, my joy turned to speed reading, often swiftly skipping paragraphs of the birth, childhood, marriages, motherhood, old age and finally death of Daisy Goodwill Flett.
It just seemed to drag and yes, I have to admit that it did have some beautiful descriptive language, but was so verbose that I just lost interest and got irritated.
Not an author I'll be rushing out to read again.
It soon becomes apparent to the reader that Daisy's life is primarily shown in terms of how it relates to those around her. Even the photos of family members exclude Daisy. The chapter on 'work', which consists largely of letters, only includes those written to her, not those she composed. Although we know the events of her life, she remains somewhat unknown to us, her personality vague. As she grows old and finds herself in a nursing home, her daughter Alice contemplates her mother's reduced property:
'all Mrs Barker Flett's possessions accommodated now by the modest dimensions of a little steel drawer. That three storey house in Ottawa has been emptied out....How is it possible, so much shrinkage?'
A consideration of a woman's life, how things that at one time are so important and in which we invest so much time - homes, gardens, jobs - ultimately all fade away. And yet from Daisy's life spring the new generation of family, whose conversation occupies the final paragraph.
A wonderful and enjoyable read, can't recommend it enough.
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