Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

Become a witness to Daisy Goodwill's life as she travels through the important eras of her life cycle from birth, childhood, marriage, motherhood to illness and decline and finally death.  Daisy is born to a mother who dies within minutes of giving birth.  The death of her mother causes her to feel untethered her entire life because she has lost the endearing and everlasting love of a mother.  Daisy grows up and goes through the motions of life but is consciously aware that her life is missing something.

The Stone Diaries is a fictional autobiography of Daisy Goodwill.  Daisy represents every woman as they travel through the inevitable periods of life.  Beautifully and creatively written, Daisy's story is told by people who knew her.

Can you ever really know someone?
Do you know yourself completely?

By the time we get to the end of our long life we have changed and lived multiple lives.  Five years or an important event becomes a mere hiccup in our lives.  We change, we grow, we move, we love, we hate and we die.  Life goes on with or without us.

Shields has created an original novel in style and subject.  Told from multiple perspectives and writing styles, each period in Daisy's life is interesting and important to understanding the whole person. The Stone Diaries won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 and it is deserving.  The ending of the book is poignant and sad, like the ending of a life.  The Stone Diaries is a clear cut example of fiction mirroring life and a monument to self.

At the beginning of the book Carol Shields includes a poem from "The Grandmother's Cycle by Judith Dowing, Converse Quarterly, Autumn.  I want to include it here because it sums up the book nicely and it is beautiful.

nothing she did
or said

was quite
what she meant

but still her life
could be called a monument

shaped in a slant 
of available light

and set to the movement
of possible music