The Stone Diaries

The Stone Diaries The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This beautifully written book defies classification. Is it the story of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary events, or an extraordinary woman living through ordinary events? Daisy Goodwill reflects on her birth (Manitoba, 1905) and her death (Florida, 199?) and everything in between. Sometimes it is Daisy’s story, then it shifts to the voices of her friends, neighbors, and children, or an omniscient third person. One chapter is told entirely through letters. Like a real biography, there are pictures of the family and a genealogy chart. Despite this touch of “authenticity,” one is left wondering how much of Daisy’s life was imagined or made up. The ultimate question it asks is how do we define ourselves? What is it that gives our lives meaning? Daisy struggles with these questions throughout her life, and I’m not sure she ever finds an answer. She is a strong and independent woman, and yet she is always letting others define her. She tries to be the dutiful wife and the perfect mother ala Good Housekeeping magazine. She is thrown into severe depression when her role as Mrs. Green Thumb (newspaper columnist) comes to an end. And at the end of her life she is defined by her illness. How well do any of us ever really know ourselves or the people closest to us? I know that large parts of my life have felt made up as I’ve gone along!

This book was read for the Daytimer’s book club December 2009 meeting (topic: Award Winners). It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995, as well as the National Book¬†Critics Circle Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.