Tag Archives: Fiction

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.

-p.165

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.

-p.145

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*

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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.

Review: Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Review    Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

My one word to describe this book is GENTLE.    Perhaps, that is exactly what I needed after the sad-to-me fact of not being able to finish the few books I attempted prior to this one.     And YIPPEE!  I read every word of this. 

As the May/June selection for the Planet Books Book Club, I was so happy that this was available to me at my local library.     Published in 2007 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., this book is 291 pages, for those who like to know such things…

*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

This starts off seeming to be a story of two guys who meet their freshman year of college.   They are thrust into friendship when the professor of their creative writing class declares them to be the best that semester as he insults their work (and all of this students), and soon becomes a gentle weaving tale of life and marriage.   Interspersed with light moments and mostly heavy ones – death, grief, betrayal;  it never becomes a burden of a story – not at all.

Julian marries Mia, his girlfriend from that first year of college.    His writing friend Carter is backdrop and counterpoint – we never quite get into Carter’s head and he doesn’t ‘grow up’ until the end.    But he does play a pivotal role.     Julian wants to be a novelist.    Mia wonders if she can survive losing her mother.    Does their marriage survive the career frustrations, the conflict of personal goals to the goal of staying together?

The story is woven and layered across the years.  Consider a movie camera that changes perspectives showing highlights from far above (like the penthouse office and home that Julian moves through with his parents), and pans across the landscapes of their love and then slowly zooms into the minds and hearts of Julian and Mia – never at the same time.   Henkin was a master of this technique of allowing the reader into pieces and parts, to get emotionally involved and yet held at a distance, much like the partner of whose ever head he was ‘inside’ at the time.    First Julian, then Mia, then Julian and then back together again.     I think that was the point:  to have us rooting for each side, to realize how separate these two are as individuals and yet how well they complement each other in the end.

I liked the pace of this book.   I was slightly frustrated that we didn’t get more of Carter, but then again – I really didn’t like him much.  But I really liked Mia and I grew to like Julian as the story of their love unfolded.     Many things were not shared and I also believe this to be part of the author’s intention – gaps in time, their wedding was barely touched on, only one religion’s influence explored, the changing question of when or IF to have a child and becoming parents, etc.    Tis true, in ‘real life’, we never really get the ‘whole’ story, even when it’s ours!  

I very much enjoyed reading the descriptions of the creative writing courses and studying the ‘art’ of writing.    Technique and style, the challenges to writer’s block, competition between classmates and how vicious critiquing can be – I had no idea!    (OK, this part isn’t ‘gentle’!)   And… I also want to say, that Henkin gives a lot of description of moving through the locations, the streets of the towns, the buildings, etc.    Made me think, if I was from Ann Arbor or NYC, I could shout, “Yes!  I KNOW that place!”   

I would rank this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

*** 1/2

I will share one of the quotes from the back of the book:

“With vibrant intelligence, Matrimony looks at the mystery of how a couple stays together and the ways even the most privileged among us are subject to the disasters wrought by our incalculable natures.   A  luminous tale, eloquently told. – Joan Silber

 

Links to REVIEWS I know about:  Leave a link/comment if you have one to share!

Julie P:Booking Mama

Lisa M:  Books on the Brain

One Minute Book Reviews