The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
We occupy static roles in one another’s lives (her grandparent, his sibling, her spouse). Rarely do we step back and consider that person’s movement and evolution through those roles in totality. Do we really think hard about how our grandfather was a young boy? Can we capture in our mind our great-grandmother’s once teenage insecurity? Shields traces us through these evolutionary roles by taking us through Daisy Goodwill Flett’s entire life cycle. Shields narrates Daisy from the totally dependent newborn to the family matriarch approaching death. While the novel commenced with a tedious mood with lots of detail that felt superfluous, it turns into a comprehensive, exceptional look at an entire life, and the novel plays with perspective and outlook. We are offered remarkable glimpses of a protagonist’s story that combine to a grand scale rarely seen. The shifting character perspectives and text made the novel very rich and special. Not only do we read the narrator, but we also read in neatly placed primary sources (letters, obituaries, lists) of Daisy’s life. A impressively creative novel that was well worth my time to pick up and speaks for itself as to why it earned the 1995 Pulizter Prize for Fiction.
–Reviewed by Jennifer Schlau, Adjunct Faculty Reference & Instruction Librarian