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The Stone Diaries

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Overview

The Stone Diaries is the story of one woman's life; a truly sensuous novel that reflects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century.

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...

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The Stone Diaries: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

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Overview

The Stone Diaries is the story of one woman's life; a truly sensuous novel that reflects and illuminates the unsettled decades of our century.

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.

Winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Any performer has her work cut out for her when a novel takes place in several settings with inhabitants possessing distinctive regional accents. Shield's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes the listener from the plains of central Canada to Bloomington, Ind., and the Orkney Islands. Botsford is an excellent performer with a smooth and easy-to-listen-to reading voice, but she doesn't have a gift for imitating linguistic variations. The women of Daisy's Bloomington circle have Southern lilts worthy of Gone with the Wind. Readers would expect the voices of this coterie to age as Daisy does, but no accommodation is made for this possibility. Within each locale the voices are quite distinct, though the voice of Daisy, the center of the novel, stands out least of all, appropriately enough, for in this work we see her life through the eyes of others. This is an important and deft novel and it's about time that it was recorded, even in this overly abridged version. Shields's writing still makes this worth a listen. Available as a Penguin paperback. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canadian writer Shields's novels and short stories ( Swann ; The Republic of Love , etc.) are intensely imagined, humanely generous, beautifully sustained and impeccably detailed. Despite rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, she has yet to achieve an audience here; one hopes this latest effort, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, will be her breakthrough. It is at once a playful sendup of the art of biography and a serious exploration of the essential mystery of human lives; the gist of this many-faceted story is that all biographies are only versions of the facts. Shields follows her heroine, Daisy Goodwill Hoad Flett, from her birth--and her mother's death--on the kitchen floor of a stonemason's cottage in a small quarry town in Manitoba through childhood in Winnipeg, adolescence and young womanhood in Bloomington, Ind. (another quarry town), two marriages, motherhood, widowhood, a brief, exhilarating career in Ottawa--and eventually to old age and death in Florida. Stone is the unifying image here: it affects the geography of Daisy's life, and ultimately her vision of herself. Wittily, ironically, touchingly, Shields gives us Daisy's version of her life and contrasting interpretations of events from her friends, children and extended family. (She even provides ostensible photographs of Daisy's family and friends.) Shields's prose is succint, clear and graceful, and she is wizardly with description, summarizing appearance, disposition and inner lives with elegant imagery. Secondary characters are equally compelling, especially Daisy's obese, phlegmatic mother; her meek, obsessive father, who transforms himself into an overbearing executive; her adoptive mother, her stubborn father-in-law. Readers who discover Shields with this book can also pick up a simultaneously published paperback version of an early first novel, Happenstance . Author tour. (Mar.)
San Francisco Chronicle
Bittersweet, beautifully written . . . deliciously unclassifiable, blatantly intelligent and subtly subversive . . . The Stone Diaries chips away at our most cherished, comforting beliefs about the immutability of facts and fate.
The New York Times
The Stone Diaries reminds us again why literature matters.
Library Journal
Author of the ``most satisfying'' The Republic of Love ( LJ 1/92), Canadian novelist Shields here details the hard life of Daisy Stone Goodwill from her 1905 birth in Manitoba through old age.
From the Publisher
"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

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

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

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394223803
  • Publisher: Random House of Canada, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/31/1994
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Shields
Carol Shields is one of Canada's best-loved and most internationally celebrated authors. Born in the US, she married a Canadian and moved here in 1957, where she raised five children. She is the mother of Anne Giardini, whose first novel, The Sad Truth About Happiness, was released as a BTC audiobook this past spring. Sadly, Carol died of complications from breast cancer in 2003. Sara Botsford is one of Canada's most recognizable and successful actors. She has appeared in numerous TV programs, including the long-running series E.N.G., Street Legal, Law and Order, The L Word and Num3ers.

Biography

Carol Shields's characters are often on the road less traveled, and the trip is never boring. She has written about a folklorist, a poet, a maze designer, a translator, even other writers -- appropriate professions in novels in which characters struggle to find their own paths in life.

Shields often focused on female characters, most notably in The Stone Diaries, her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel documenting the birth, death, and everything in between of Daisy Goodwill. Goodwill's story is told over a century, in various voices, featuring Shields's wry humor and her ability to convey what she has called "the arc of human life."

But don't pigeonhole Shields as a "women's writer." "I have directed a fair amount of energy and rather a lot of rage into that particular corner [of the] problem of men and women, particularly men and women who write and how women's novels are perceived differently from men's," Shields said in a 2001 interview. In 1997's Larry's Party, she swapped genders, writing from the perspective of a male floral designer who discovers a passion for mazes.

Unafraid to experiment with genres, Shields wrote an epistolary novel (A Celibate Season, coauthored with Blanche Howard), a sort of "literary mystery" about the posthumous discovery of a murdered poet's genius (Swann), and short stories (collected in Dressing for the Carnival and other titles). Though she often covered serious topics, she rarely did so without humor. Her novel of mid-life romance, Republic of Love, was called by The New York Times a "touching, elegantly funny, luscious work of fiction," an assessment that could be applied to the bulk of her work.

Shields changed her viewpoint yet again for Unless, but the circumstance was a tragic one. The book, which resurrects the main character from Dressing Up for the Carnival's "A Scarf," was written during the author's battle with breast cancer. "I never want to sound at all mystical about writing,'' she said in a 2002 interview, ''but this book -- it just came out." Though not touching on her own illness, Shields did what she had always done -- took her own questions and lessons, then used them to produce a story that speaks its own truth.

Shields passed away on July 16, 2003; she was 68.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Carol Ann Warner
    2. Hometown:
      Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oak Park, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      July 16, 2003
    2. Place of Death:
      Toronto, Canada

Read an Excerpt

Birth, 1905

My mother's name was Mercy Stone Goodwill. She was only thirty years old when she took sick, a boiling hot day, standing there in her back kitchen, making a Malvern pudding for her husband's supper. A cookery book lay open on the table: "Take some slices of stale bread," the recipe said, "and one pint of currants; half a pint of raspberries; four ounces of sugar; some sweet cream if available." Of course she's divided the recipe in half, there being just the two of them, and what with the scarcity of currants, and Cuyler (my father) being a dainty eater. A pick-and-nibble fellow, she calls him, able to take his food or leave it.

It shames her how little the man eats, diddling his spoon around in his dish, perhaps raising his eyes once or twice to send her one of his shy, appreciative glances across the table, but never taking a second helping, just leaving it all for her to finish up — pulling his hand through the air with that dreamy gesture of his that urges her on. And smiling all the while, his daft tender-faced look. What did food mean to a working man like himself? A bother, a distraction, perhaps even a kind of price that had to be paid in order to remain upright and breathing.

Well, it was a different story for her, for my mother. Eating was as close to heaven as my mother ever came. (In our day we have a name for a passion as disordered as hers.)

And almost as heavenly as eating was the making — how she gloried in it! Every last body on this earth has a particular notion of paradise, and this was hers, standing in the murderously hot back kitchen of her own house, concocting and contriving, leaningforward and squinting at the fine print of the cookery book, a clean wooden spoon in hand.

It's something to see, the way she concentrates, her hot, busy face, the way she thrills to see the dish take form as she pours the stewed fruit into the fancy mold, pressing the thickly cut bread down over the oozing juices, feeling it soften and absorb bit by bit a raspberry redness. Malvern pudding; she loves the words too, and feels them dissolve on her tongue like a sugary wafer, her tongue itself grown waferlike and sweet. Like an artist — years later this form of artistry is perfectly clear to me — she stirs and arranges and draws in her brooding lower lip. Such a dish this will be. A warm sponge soaking up color. (Mrs. Flett next door let her have some currants off her bush; the raspberries she's found herself along the roadside south of the village, even though it half kills her, a woman of her size walking out in the heat of the day.)

She sprinkles on extra sugar, one spoonful, then another, then takes the spoon to her mouth, the rough crystals that keep her alert. It is three o'clock — a hot July afternoon in the middle of Manitoba, in the middle of the Dominion of Canada. The parlor clock (adamantine finish, gilded feet, a wedding present from her husband's family, the Goodwills of Stonewall Township) has just struck the hour. Cuyler will be home from the quarry at five sharp; he will have himself a good cheerful wash at the kitchen basin, and by half-past five the two of them will sit down at the table - this very table, only spread with a clean cloth, every second day a clean cloth — and eat their supper. Which for the most part will be a silent meal, both my parents being shy by nature, and each brought up in the belief that conversing and eating are different functions, occupying separate trenches of time. Tonight they will partake of cold corned beef with a spoonful of homemade relish, some dressed potatoes at the side, cups of sweet tea, and then this fine pudding. His eyes will widen; my father, Cuyler Goodwill, aged twenty-eight, two years married, will never in his life have tasted Malvern pudding. (That's what she's preparing for — his stunned and mild look of confusion, that tender, grateful male mouth dropping open in surprise. It's the least she can do, surprise him like this.) She sets a flower-patterned plate carefully on top of the pudding and weights it down with a stone.

Copyright 1994 by Carol Shields
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Foreword

1. Carol Shields spoke of becoming a writer because there weren’t enough books that examined women’s friendships and women’s inner lives — or, as she put it, “the kind of book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.” In what ways does Shields’s fiction bring the lives of women to the surface, or into our understanding? What sorts of female experiences does she illuminate?

2. In her novels and stories, Shields often experiments with using different voices. The Stone Diaries shifts between first-, second-, and third-person narrative; one section of Larry’s Party is recorded almost entirely in dialogue; Happenstance is a novel in two parts, one narrated by the husband, one by the wife; the stories in Various Miracles come from a wide variety of narrative standpoints. Discuss point-of-view in Shields’s works, and the importance of telling one’s own stories — as characters or in real life. Also, what is the role of the writer in telling other people’s stories for them?

3. Though she’s lauded as a writer who brought the lives of ordinary people to the page and made them extraordinary, Carol Shields took some exception to the idea in one interview: “I have never known what ‘ordinary’ people means! I don’t think I quite believe in the concept…. There’s no one who isn’t complicated, who doesn’t have areas of cowardice or courage, who isn’t incapable of some things and capable of great acts. I think everyone has that capability. Either we’re all ordinary or else none of us is ordinary.”Discuss the role of ordinary life in Shields’s fiction. How do her above views come across in her writing? Is there a respect for the everyday that you don’t see in works by other writers?

4. Shields once commented that she’d often set up the structure of a novel, determining such elements as how many chapters there would be, and how long they’d be, before she even set out to write. “I need that kind of structure,” she explained. “[S]ometimes I change it. But mostly I don’t.… I love structures, and I love making new structures for novels.” Discuss the overall structures of different novels and how they relate to the content. For example, does Larry Weller’s love of garden mazes say anything about the twenty years of his life covered by Larry’s Party? What meaning can be found in the one-word chapter titles of Unless? How does Shields use, or even undermine, the biography format in The Stone Diaries?

5. “I'm concerned about the unknowability of other people,” Shields once said. “That's why I love biography and the idea of the human life told or shown. Of course, this is why I love novels, too. In novels, you get to hear how people are thinking. That’s why I read fiction.” How does Shields expose and often celebrate the inner lives of her characters? Can you find examples of characters who aren’t really known to those around them? How do their relationships suffer, or thrive, or even just survive, in the face of such distance?

6. How does what you know about Carol Shields as a person affect your reading of her books? Are you able to separate the author from her work? Do you feel the need to? What parallels can you draw between her approach to life and those of her characters? For instance, most of her main characters are women at mid-life, and many of her characters are writers or work in other areas of book publishing (translators, editors, etc.).

7. In interviews about Larry’s Party, Carol Shields commented more than once that men were “the ultimate mystery” to her. Discuss the male characters in Shields’s fiction — both those in prominent roles, like Larry Weller in Larry’s Party or Tom Avery in The Republic of Love, and the many husbands and lovers that seem to populate the sidelines of other stories and novels. How successfully does Shields portray the world of men in her work? Are there common characteristics you can trace between books? Are some of her male characters defined by the women they love? Or is it more often the other way around?

8. Many of Carol Shields’s works explore the ways individuals interact with their communities. Some characters are defined by their loneliness, while others struggle with their responsibilities to the people around them, whether it’s their family or a larger group. Discuss the roles of family and community in Shields’s fiction.

9. Carol Shields has always been well-known for her love of language, and its slipperiness. In what ways does her writing call attention to itself as writing? Are there particular stories or novels that you find playful? Or linguistically complex?

10. Author and literary journalist James Atlas, who edited the series for which Shields wrote her Austen biography, once said about Carol Shields, “she is our Jane Austen.” Compare Shields’s fiction to that of Austen — are there common themes or techniques? What other major authors would you compare Shields to, and why? Where does her work fit into our literary canon?

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Reading Group Guide

The Stone Diaries
by Carol Shields

INTRODUCTION

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

From her calamitous birth in Manitoba in 1905 to her journey with her father to Indiana, throughout her years as a wife, mother, and widow, Daisy Stone Goodwill struggled to understand her place in her own life. Now, in old age, Daisy attempts to tell her life story through a novel. She listens, she observes, and, through sheer force of imagination, she becomes a witness of her own life: her birth, her death, and the troubling misconnections she discovers in between.

ABOUT THE TITLE

"She enlarges on the available material, extends, shrinks, reshapes what's offered; this mixed potion is her life. She swirls it one way or the other, depending on - who knows what it depends on? - the fulcrum of desire, or of necessity. She might drop in a ripe plum from a library book she's reading or something out of a soap opera or a dream."

The life in question belongs to Daisy Goodwill Flett, "a middle-class woman, a woman of moderate intelligence and medium-sized ego and average good luck." In other words, a woman so commonplace that her story would seem barely worth remarking, were it not, perhaps, for her own determination to tell it. And in telling it, give it shape and meaning - even if she must supply these herself.

This is the problem that Carol Shields addresses in The Stone Diaries: how do small lives, the kind most women were once assumed to lead, assume significance and coherence? How closely do our versions of those lives correspond to objective facts? Can facts be said to exist at all in the context of something as changeable and arbitrary as a life? To what extent do "our" stories really belong to us, considering the tendency that other people - parents, spouses, children - have to intrude in them, interpret them, claim them?

The Stone Diaries approaches these problems with seductive prose, a serene wit and an artfulness that is all the more dazzling given the novel's apparent insistence on the ordinary. Indeed, one of Shields' conceits has been to disguise her fiction as a "real" biography, complete with period photographs and a family tree. But beneath the scrupulous - if spurious - documentation and bland rural and suburban settings lie incidents as fantastic as the inventions of Gabriel García Márquez: a hugely fat woman dies in childbirth without ever realizing that she was pregnant; a dour Orkneyman journeys back to the island he left decades before, severing ties, jettisoning possessions, and living on to the age of 115 (with the uncanny ability to recite Jane Eyre from memory); a young husband falls to his death ten days after his wedding, possibly as the result of an unexpected sneeze, and his wife, who did the sneezing, never mentions her marriage and its grotesque ending to another soul. Strangest of all, the heroine of this novel passes through her life without ever fully occupying it - an absence that this beautiful and haunting book attempts to redeem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The youngest of three children, Carol Shields was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1935. She studied at Hanover College, the University of Exeter in England, and the University of Ottawa, where she received an M.A. In 1957 she married Donald Hugh Shields, a professor of Civil Engineering, and moved to Canada. She has lived there ever since. In addition to raising five children, all of whom are now grown, Shields has worked as an editorial assistant for the journal Canadian Slavonic Papers and as a professor at the University of Ottawa, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Manitoba, where she has taught for the last fifteen years. She lives in Winnipeg.

Shields is the author of several novels and short-story collections, including The Orange Fish, Swann, Various Miracles, Happenstance, and The Republic of Love. Her books have won a Canada Council Major Award, two National Magazine Awards, the Canadian Author's Award, and a CBC short story award. The Stone Diaries was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1993 Booker Prize, and won Canada's Governor General Award. It was also named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly and a Notable Book by The New York Times Book Review.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Q: What were you trying to accomplish in The Stone Diaries? It seems to be the autobiography of a woman who wasn't there.

A: I was interested in the notion of autobiography and, in particular, the idea of women's life stories. A lot of women are erased from their lives, sometimes as a result of their own actions and attitudes, but mostly for societal reasons. The saddest thing about women like Daisy Goodwill is that they didn't know what was owed them. They didn't have the words to say "I want." Ninety-nine percent of the women of Daisy's generation never claimed their own lives. Only a few women did--and we have novels about them.

Q: Although it purports to be the autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett, The Stone Diaries includes the stories of many other characters as well, and occasionally presents information that Daisy is unlikely to know.

A: I wanted to have a lot of other voices filtering in and out, representing Daisy's fantasies of what other people imagined about her. We all wonder how other people see us, and Daisy is no exception. I also wanted to include legend along with facts. The birth scene, for example. Daisy wouldn't remember her own birth, but doubtless she heard stories about it, remarkable as it was, just as I used to hear stories about my birth when I was a child. I remember my mother would always say, "You slipped out just like a lump of butter!" [Laughter]

Q: Is The Stone Diaries meant to represent Daisy's real life? To fill in the gaps that the people around her missed?

A: Well, you know we all carry around in our heads what we think is our life story. When I read back over my manuscript, I saw that Daisy had somehow leaped over her experiences with childbirth, sexual initiation, and education. But that's how life stories are. It's as though you end up your life with a boxful of snapshots. They may not be the best ones, but they're the ones you have. All the other pictures are in an album somewhere.

Q: Speaking of pictures, what about your novel's photo section? It's a highly unorthodox touch that further pushes the envelope between fiction and autobiography. How did you come up with it?

A: When I read real biographies, I always turn to the photos in the middle. I'm always checking the image against the text. I found the photo of the Ladies Rhythm and Movement Club at a small country museum here in Manitoba. The photos of Daisy's grandchildren are actually of my own children. I asked them for permission, of course.

Q: The idea of a woman being erased from her own life seems almost unbearably sad, but The Stone Diaries doesn't read like a sad book.

A: One of the things that redeems Daisy's life is her friendships with other women. Lifelong friends like Beans and Fraidy, along with the bridge club companions of her later years. Sometimes I think that those "bridge club biddies" were forerunners of consciousness-raising groups. They were early feminist cells.

Q: In one interview you're quoted as having an interest in "subversive fiction." Is The Stone Diaries a subversive novel? In what way?

A: I love writing novels because the novel is such an accommodating form. You can do such a lot within one. I suppose a contemporary novel isn't supposed to rely too heavily on coincidence and synchronicity, but The Stone Diaries is filled with coincidences. So are most people's lives. I like to collect stories of other people's coincidences because I suspect that that's how the universe really works. Everything I've read about chaos theory bears this out. For a while I was worried because The Stone Diaries didn't seem to have a plot. And then I read an interview with Patrick White - I love Patrick White - in which he says, "I never worry about plot. I worry about life going on toward death."

Q: What are you working on presently?

A: I'm writing a novel about work. I love the idea of work, the things people actually do for a living, and I've always been struck by the fact that in most novels people aren't working. I'd like to look at that.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. The first chapter of this novel is the only one that is narrated entirely in the first person. Why might the author have chosen to shift narrative voices? At what points in the book does the narrative "I" return? Who do you think is telling Daisy's story?
  2. What irony is implicit in the fact that Mercy Goodwill is unaware of her own pregnancy? Compare this near-virgin birth to Daisy's own catastrophically chaste honeymoon. How do this novel's female characters experience sex, pregnancy and childbirth?
  3. Although Daisy describes her mother as "extraordinarily obese" and taller than her husband, a photo reveals that Mercy Goodwill is actually shorter than Cuyler and no more than ordinarily husky. Is Daisy lying? Or does she merely have "a little trouble with getting things straight?" Where else are there discrepancies between Daisy's version of her life and the book's "documentation?"
  4. From the passionate Cuyler Goodwill to Barker Flett, who is smitten with Daisy while she is still a child, the men in this novel are both erotically enthralled by women and fulfilled by their relationships with them. In contrast, their wives seem bewildered by, indifferent to, or at best serenely tolerant of their husbands' ardor. Does The Stone Diaries subvert traditional sex roles? Where do Daisy and the novel's other female characters derive their greatest pleasure and fulfillment? How badly do Shields's women need men?
  5. When Cuyler Goodwill loses his wife he builds her a tower. When his daughter loses her first husband, she never tells the story to another soul. What might account for her reticence? How deeply does Daisy seem to love either of her husbands? On the other hand, how trustworthy are these characters' public displays of emotion?
  6. "Life is an endless recruiting of witnesses." This observation in the first chapter seems borne out by the constant stream of secondary characters who intrude into Daisy's life story and at times commandeer it. What role does Daisy - or Carol Shields - assign "witnesses" like the Jewish peddler Abram Gozhdë Skutari, the bicyclist who kills Clarentine Flett, or Cuyler Goodwill's housekeeper? Why might these characters reappear in the narrative years after their initial entrances? How trustworthy are their interpretations of Daisy's life and character?
  7. Although Cuyler Goodwill builds a tower in his wife's memory, he is unable to remember her name at the time of his own death. Magnus Flett is able to recite much of Jane Eyre from memory well into his hundreds. And, even as small children, Alice, Warren and Joan Flett "take turns comparing and repeating their separate and shared memories and shivering with pleasure every time a fresh fragment from the past is unearthed." What role does memory play in The Stone Diaries? How much of Daisy's diary is remembered, and how much imagined?
  8. In the chapter entitled "Sorrow," a number of characters offer explanations for Daisy's depression. How accurate are any of these? Are we given any reason to trust one interpretation over others? How well do any of Daisy's intimates really know her? How well does the reader know her by the book's close?
  9. How does Daisy influence her children or determine the choices they make in their own lives? Does she seem to do so at all? What kinds of lessons does she impart to them? Is Daisy Flett a "good" mother, a "good" wife or daughter? Does The Stone Diaries allow us to make such easy judgments about its protagonist?

RELATED TITLES

Various Miracles

In this collection of stories, Shields illuminates the moments when ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances--wild coincidences, declarations of love, startling revelations. We are drawn, too, into a world of sharply observed characters: a comedy writer whose wife is dying, a couple who still gets Christmas cards from a man they assisted twenty-five years ago, an aging woman cutting the grass.

Autobiography of an Invisible Woman
Happenstance

Two dazzling companion novels, printed in one back-to-back book, tell the stories of Jack and Brenda Bowman, who for nearly the first time in their long marriage, spend a week apart. "Carol Shields is a name to set beside Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro" - Anita Brookner

The Orange Fish

These twelve stories exhibit Shields's extraordinary ability to find both meaning and mystery in the chaos of ordinary life. "Infused with a sly humor, these poignant stories revel in the ordinary, with a few side trips towards the sublime." - The Washington Post Book World

The Republic of Love

Fay, a student of mermaids who finds it difficult to make a commitment, and Tom, a radio talk-show host who commits all too easily to the wrong women, have each given up on romance...until they meet each other. But when reality intrudes they discover that taking up residence in the republic of love requires more than a touch of luck and a lightning bolt of love. "I envy those with The Republic of Love still ahead of them." - The New York Times Book Review

Swann

After her brutal murder, all traces of the existence of Mary Swann, rural Canadian poet, begin to vanish. As her characters try to solve the puzzle of Swann's disappearing legacy, Carol Shields explores the larger mysteries of the nature of art, as well as the powerful forces that motivate all of us. "One of the best novels I have read this year...deft, funny, poignant, surprising, and beautifully shaped." - Margaret Atwood

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Recommended

    An interesting book covering one woman's life from her unexpected birth in Canada, her subsequent move with her father to Indiana and finally marriage in Toronto. There are huge leaps of time in the book, leaving the reader to wonder what transpired in between and what events and persons influenced her development. The main takeaway from the book is how lack of communication with friends and family can leave a person frustrated and isolated. The book is written in different voices and gives an overview of the changing times and attitudes with respect to women.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just ok

    I'm not sure really what to think of this book. The description makes it sound like it is told from Daisy's point of view, but really it is not. It almost like an outsider wrote it that knew everything about Daisy. While I liked the book, I felt next to nothing for Daisy herself. I found those surrounding her to be far more interesting. They gave the story life. Thankfully you get a few clips of the story told from varying viewpoints. I got the most from the letters, etc that are throughout the story. I kept hoping the Daisy would eventually find something to tie her to this world. Most people I think go through life trying to make their mark, something that says they were here long after they're gone. With Daisy it was like she knew she would never been remembered, so why try. She even felt her children and grandchildren would eventually forget about her. She was content to just exist for the moment. It was not depressing, I just felt sorry for her. Still, not a bad story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2006

    Even worse than I expected

    Although well-written, the book drags on for eternity with absolutely irrelevant detail, drowning the chatacters in lore, and ultimately dehumanizing them by equating them to their surroundings. In fact, Shields does a fine job of suggesting that stone, plants, humans, and God are all equal to each other, which strikes me with its profound immaturity and stupidity. Lastly, this novel reeks of feminism - something not unexpected, yet still discrediting. I do not recommend this book to anyone, although, if you're a feminist, knock yourself out. Ta ta

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2005

    What a find!!!!!!!!!!!

    My gosh, this book reminds me so much of what happened to my mother and her two (2) siblings, but in the early 20's! I could not put this book down. Ms Shields - this is THE best book I've read in a long time that captured me from the start!!!! I will be searching for prior books written and also look forward to your writing more! I fell in love with 'Daisy' from the start! A marvelous read! Awesome!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2005

    Life goes on

    Im 16 years old and In grade 11 and I loved this book. I read it for a English term paper and I would love to read it again! Its very detailed and long but a wonderful book none the less. Try it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    Such a wonderful book

    I have read and reread this book. It is both deep and easy reading at the same time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2003

    Stone Diaries

    Just like any other pulitzer prize winner, this book is unique and takes the reader for a well spent ride through the life of a woman from her birth to her death. How little her family knew her from the narrative of their perspectives after her death. This book made me think of how much more there is to people other than what we see of their lives! Very well-written and fresh!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2003

    Stone Diaries

    This book is a page turner. I laughed and cried through Daisy's journey through life. What especially impressed me was her family's thoughts on her life expereinces. I recommend this book to everyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    Beautifully written

    Ms. Shields's gift for writing was apparent in this novel. She took an ordinary woman's life and spun it into an extraordinary tale. What a loss to the literary world, that Ms. Sheilds's voice has been silenced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2001

    This one and Evolution

    I've read two awesome books this year. This one and Evolution by Jennifer MacDonald. Check them out whether you buy them or get them at the library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews

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