#CBR8 Review #137

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

My book club choice was one I’d not previously read. I’ve been going through the books on my shelves, and Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries was a thrift store find. When I took a women’s literature course, we read Shields’ Swann, a novel about the art of writing and literary theory. I loved it so much I wanted to read MORE Shields. So, for me, this last book club was all about killing two birds with one stone (pun not intended).

The novel follows the life story of Daisy Goodwin: from birth to death. The novel alternates between third-person omniscient—both Daisy and other characters make comments on her current life state—and first-person limited omniscient, as Daisy herself writes about herself. It’s a fictional biography and autobiography at the same time. You see Daisy commenting on her birth, and then you see others commenting on her love life and potential professions.

This novel provoked a thoughtful discussion at book club. Some members were frustrated that Daisy had education but didn’t ultimately “do” much with her life. Others pointed out the time period and the limited opportunities for women. Others remarked on the frustration of a timeline that’s not easily chronological, and how the novel forced them to rethink their understanding of narrative and biography. This was not my favorite novel, but I think it’s thoughtful and interesting. If you like Carol Shields’ style, do absolutely check out Swann. It’s one of the best books I’ve read about the writer and literary theory in general.


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