Tuesday, August 25

Book Review: The Stone Diaries

Title: The Stone Diaries

Author: Carol Shields

Pages: 361

Summary: The Stone Diaries is the story of one woman’s life; a truly sensuous novel that reflects and illuminate 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 an autobiography.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Shields did a fantastic job at capturing the life of Daisy, and although at first I wasn’t sure how much I liked the story in the beginning, I really enjoyed it in the end. The author has a very unique perspective and way to her writing, as she tells the story of Daisy’s life through multiple. Sometimes it’s through a narrator, other times, it’s an entire chapter letters, but you only see letters to Daisy, never from, and sometimes it’s through Daisy herself. And even though all the different narration techniques are a little disjointed, and they often leave big gaps, tell one side of the story, or rarely see what Daisy actually thinks (only in the first chapter), but even in chapters where we have views of multiple people in her life, and all the different narrations throughout the book, it works incredibly well, in retelling a person’s life, and how much of this is left to interpretation, and assumptions of what people think they know. One of the best techniques Shields used is found in the final chapter. I think Shields did an amazing job at portraying this “part” of Daisy’s life, her death, and after it. The chapter is written up of a combination of dialogue between characters (although we never find out who is saying what), lists, recipes and memories of her life, and again presumptions from the rest of the characters of what all the stuff might have meant to Daisy. I think this made Daisy more real for me, rather than just a character in a book.

The story did move a little slowly for me, and there wasn’t a lot of excitement that happened, but I still enjoyed it and I still had a hard time putting it down at times, because you always wanted to find out more information about Daisy, wanted to read between the lines, and wanted to know what parts of the story told from those around Daisy were actual facts, or disjointed memories and assumptions the have made through their perception of the world. Overall, it was a good story, and I look forward to reading some more of the author’s work.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, even if your not a fan of multiple narration styles in a book, you should still try this, because the author makes it work so well. It really is a unique way to tell a story, and it is an interesting story as a whole, slow to start and slow at times throughout the entire story, but as it comes together as a whole, you can really enjoy it and appreciate it.

What to read next: The Stone Angel, A Good House

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, The 999 Challenge, August Reading Challenge,
Book Awards III Challenge


  1. I was just thinking about this book last night as I was getting into bed! I saw it on the shelf, and having not yet read it,was wondering if the story was any good. I am glad to hear that it was, even if it is a bit uneven. Great review on this one. I am going to be moving it up on the pile. Thanks!

  2. Hi, thanks for an interesting review. I've heard good things about this book but I've never been able to find it in my local library or local shops.
    You seem to read my kind of books!

  3. Hi Jules! This is one of my favorite books. After reading your review, I feel like re-reading it.

  4. Carole - if you cant find it, Canadian bookstores online sites, it's a Canadian Author, so it might be why it's harder for you to find.

    Peter - glad you enjoyed the review. And hope your re-read is enjoyable.

    Zibilee - I have that problem a lot, see the books on the shelves as I get into bed, and wonder which
    stories are good. This one is worth bumping up a few places on the TBR list.

  5. I love Carol Shields but this is not my favorite novel of hers. Interesting that you list Laurence's Stone Angel as what to read next. I read that fairly recently--my first Laurence. But have since read A Jest of God which I like better.

  6. I was planning on re-reading it for a book club at the library (Stone Angel, but time got away. I still plan on going back to it, I read it 6 years ago in a Grade 12 English class, and enjoyed it.

    I saw the movie version of the Diviners and really enjoyed it, so I want to check the book out.

    As for Carol Shields, I own Unless, and it's waiting to be read, on my dust shelves. Looking forward to her other novels.