The Stone Diaries

Thoughts  The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, Penguin Books 1995, 361 pages

“Yet wherever she goes, her story marches ahead of her. Announces her. Declares and cancels her true self. Oh, she did so want to be happy, but what choice did she have, stepping to the beat of the that ragbag history of hers?

– p.122

WHAT’s it ABOUT:   I’ve been avoiding the review of this in equal measures with my enthusiasm. I loved this book. It’s funny!  Sly humor, we should say. Short sentences, deep thoughts, a bit of whimsy even. Delightful. You might even think it is a happy story from all my gushing here but that would be a lie.

Daisy Stone Goodwill Hoad Flett is just a witness to her own life. She was born to a big fat woman who didn’t even know she was pregnant and then died! Died in childbirth. Slam bam, cruel cruel world. Daisy ended up being raised by an Aunt who was really a neighbor and well, you’ll just have to read the crazy storyline if I have interested you so far. (No? oh, OK:  aunt dies, she moves with her bio-dad to Indiana from Canada, grows up & goes to school – story glosses over this part, marries but not for long (ha!), needs an adventure and ends up back in Canada married to her ‘uncle’ – yep, the original aunt’s son; has three kids, gets a job, loses job, gets depressed, gets older, moves to Florida of all places, takes a crazy trip to Scotland and and…  I won’t ruin that part – it’s quite astonishing and finally is a witness to her death and a little after.

In an interview at the back of the book – DO READ THIS, I like when I like the afterwords; so refreshing, wouldn’t you agree? Carol Shields says that many women of the generation of Daisy just fail to claim their own lives and thus never get books written about them.  So Ms Shields attempted it and was beautifully successful in writing something wholly entertaining and profound.  There, I said it. It is my opinion.

It’s the writing and the theme and the creativity and the humor that got me. I didn’t rush through this; it wasn’t a fast-paced page-turner. I savored this.

Fraidy, friend of Daisy, was my favorite. It makes me smile just to think of her letters, her words, her attitudes. Oh yes, there are letters and scattered perspectives of Daisy’s life interspersed through the entire book.

I dreaded this review because I don’t really know what to say or how to express what I loved so much. Huh, I’m at 600 words!

Or is love something less, something slippery and odorless, a transparent gas riding through the world on the back of a breeze, or else – and this is what he more and more believes – just a word trying to remember another word.


Carol Shields has me thinking she would be really fun to hang out with. I can’t wait to read more of her stories to see if she really should be one of my new favorites. If you follow my blog at all, you know I don’t tend to follow an author’s oevure. If she passes the 3 book test (3 books is when I tend to tire of an author’s ‘style’), then a favorite she will be.

WHAT’s GOOD:   Humor. I was ready for a book that made me laugh. Not that this is a funny book!  It is, but I wouldn’t classify it in that section of the library.  It’s funny in that life-is-absurd kind of way.

It is inevitable that each of us will be misunderstood; this, it seems, is part of twentieth-century wisdom.


WHAT maybe NOT so good?    Can’t think of a thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS:    [crickets]

RATING:  Five slices of pie.

… the great story she let rise up and swamp her.

– p.125

REVIEWS:   Results of Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search for this title and then the one that first brought this book to my attention:  the Bluestocking Society where she says ‘we glimpse truths about the entire human condition’. Shoutouts to Kailana and Chris of Bookarama (whatdoyouknow! Canadians) for chatting with me about this on Twitter and goodreads.  *smiles*


Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

29 Responses to “The Stone Diaries”

  1. 1 Kailana November 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I am so glad you enjoyed this! I am thinking I really should reread Carol Shields, but I am always worried it will make favourite authors less of a favourite. I did notice when I looked up her bibliography to send you suggestions, though, that I have never read any of her plays.

  2. 3 BermudaOnion November 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I love your enthusiasm for this book!

  3. 5 Melissa (@AvidReader12) November 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    It’s been a few years since I read this one, but I remember really enjoying it. It was such a great way to tell her story.

  4. 7 reviewsbylola November 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    This sounds like a fun book!

  5. 9 Trisha November 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I have this book on the TBR shelves so I’m glad to know it’s a good read.

  6. 11 JoAnn December 1, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I read this year ago and loved it. Will look for this edition next time I’m in the library or book store – want to read the interview!

    • 12 Care December 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Which reminds me… I tried to add this edition to the goodreads options for this title – all because I want to see the cover I have – but I messed it up. So I applied for librarian status! Might as well, I think I can be professional about it. I now need to go fix what I screwed up.

  7. 13 Trish December 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Crickets. That pretty sums up my thoughts on this book. I found it bleak–was it funny?! I read it well before blogging and I did not like the book at all BUTTTTTTTTTTT i’ve kept it on the shelf so that I can read it again one day to see if I like it better a second time (does anyone else do this?!)

    • 14 Care December 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      I said crickets because I said everything prior and had nothing left to add (stupid review format form that I use)

      Yes, it was ironic and funny. Funny to me. But NOT laughs and jokes.

      It suits my sense of humor perfectly. I am the kind of person that laughs at inappropriate times and people ask me, “What’s so funny?”

      I have read a few reviews on goodreads that people thought it NOT FUNNY AT ALL and I just have to guess that we don’t find the same things funny. YaKnow?

      • 15 Care December 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        And I used to never reread books. But since blogging, I have wanted to more. I read The Book Thief twice and loved it both times. I think it is grand of you to want to try it again at a later time.

  8. 16 Jeanne December 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I read this one before blogging and also found it funny. I remember liking it but not much about it; I think, like you, I liked the way it was told.

  9. 18 bybee December 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I loved Fraidy, too, but I found the photo album a little disconcerting.

    • 19 Care December 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      When I turned the page onto the photos, I had a slight FREAK-fest. WHA!?!??! but then, after double-checking “Yes, this is fiction.” and reading the interview, I thought it kinda cool. The pics were of the author’s kids! or she found in a second hand shop, I think.

  10. 20 Thomas at My Porch December 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I love Carol Shields but I read all of her novels long before I started blogging. I’ve started re-reading her books and like them as much as I did before. I have, however, in more than one instance had problems with some her endings, although I can’t remember anything specific 15 years later.

    Swann is a fantastic novel and so different from her other books.

    • 21 Care December 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      OH Thank you Thank you! I want to read Swann right now NOW! Maybe when it is my pick for book club… I still have to read 1Q84 first. and I think I committed to reading the entire Harry Potty ____ whateverthereadisfor ‘every Harry Potter’. first. sigh….

  11. 22 Marie December 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    sounds like another winner! you write the best reviews.

  12. 24 Karen K. December 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I’ve had this on the TBR shelf for awhile — I’m starting a new book group at my library branch and this sounds like a really good choice. Thanks for reminding me about it.

  13. 26 Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books December 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    This is the book that started me on a Carol Shields kick … back when I used to go thru an author’s backlist after “discovering” him/her. Sigh. Need more time in the day!

    • 27 Care December 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      I never really had that ‘read an author’s backlist’ desire until I started book blogging. I’m choosy, though. Choosy because I find I want to read so so so many books (and authors) now.

  14. 28 Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) December 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I’m glad to see you enjoyed this book. I picked it up at a library sale awhile back but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad I came across your review because I didn’t know anything about this book, just grabbed it based on the blurb and cover. ;)

    • 29 Care December 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Anna, this is one of those books that sounded good and I immediately tried to find it (and I did, on bookmooch) but then took a while to finally read. I hope you enjoy it.

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I prefer pi.


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