The Box Garden

The Box Garden

by Carol Diggory Shields
     
 

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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Stone Diaries. Charleen, a divorcee eking out a living as a poet and part-time assistant for an obscure scientific journal, returns home to attend her mother's wedding, and is caught up in a series of unexpected--and terrifying--events.

Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Stone Diaries. Charleen, a divorcee eking out a living as a poet and part-time assistant for an obscure scientific journal, returns home to attend her mother's wedding, and is caught up in a series of unexpected--and terrifying--events.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Charleen Forrest, Judith Gill's sister (see Small Ceremonies, above), is obsessive and hyper-romantic, a poet who no longer writes because ``having given away the well of myself, there is nowhere to go''-except inward. Which is why she looks for deeper meaning in nylon slips and train berths. And why, when her lover describes his father's faltering attempt at sex education (``See The Prairie Lovelies-Only Twenty-five Cents''), she imagines his family as imbued with ``a sort of decency which surfaces unconsciously.'' It's also why she pictures her father's massive heart attack as ``a tidal wave of pressure, a blind wall-darkness crushing him as he lay sleeping.'' Today, a doctor would give Charleen Prozac and send her on her not-so-merry way. But in 1977, when Shields wrote her second novel (which, like Small Ceremonies, is making its first U.S. appearance), the more common treatment for such neuroses was to endure. Charleen not only endures but comes out stronger after one especially trying weeklong trip across Canada to attend her mother's wedding when she is confronted with more of her past than she-or the reader-expects. It's the sort of experience that should send her completely over the edge, but Charleen isn't quite as fragile as she seems. In less capable hands she'd be a caricature, her transformation contrived. But Shields makes Charleen and her experiences believable. Even more rewarding, she makes them endearing. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“The novel’s protagonist, Charleen Forrest, is an appealing combination of common sense and irrepressible idealism . . . [Carol Shields’s] straightforward, low-key prose . . . brings us to the vital center of Charleen’s emotional life.” —Toronto Star

“Enlightening . . . draws a memorable portrait of a bitter mother and her daughters.” —The New York Times 

“A shrewd and skillful storyteller.” —Chicago Tribune 

“[The Box Garden] is fun, it is lively, it has intelligence . . . What makes [Carol Shields] special, apart from her flashing wit, her generosity and her insight into the extraordinariness of ordinary life, is her formal inventiveness, at once modest and daring, like a Modernist seamstress.” —Literary Review  

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140251364
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.51(d)

Meet the Author

Carol Shields (1935–2003) was born in Oak Park, Illinois. She studied at Hanover College, the University of Exeter in England, and the University of Ottawa. In 1957, she married Donald Shields and moved to Canada permanently. She taught at the University of Ottawa, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Manitoba, and served as chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. She wrote ten novels and three short story collections, in addition to poetry, plays, criticism, and a biography of Jane Austen. Her novel The Stone Diaries won the Pulitzer Prize, the Governor General’s Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award; it was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Shields was further recognized with a Canada Council Major Award, two Canadian National Magazine Awards, the Canadian Authors Association Award, and countless other prizes and honors. 

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