Carol Shields is one of those authors who I’ve come across dozens of times but never had a chance to read. To be honest I’m kind of wondering why I have checked out any of her novels before.
In essence The Stone Diaries is a family saga. It’s the story of the birth, life and death of Daisy Fleet. During her 80 (1905 – 199?) or so years on earth she experiences two marriages (her first husband commits suicide) three children, a slew of grand children, some career ups and downs, the changes that take place in Canadian culture, a trip to the Orkney islands and a semi peaceful end in a hospital. The thing is that Shields tackles Daisy’s life from different angles – with the exception of Daisy herself – be it through newspaper articles or conversation snippets. In it’s was you could say it’s a feminist novel as there is a huge focus on the strength and power of the woman throughout time but maybe I’m over interpreting it.
The Stone Diaries is a surprisingly quick read as Shields prose flows and absorbs you completely and at this point, with the exception of Bruce Chatwin’s On the Black Hill and Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, is the best ‘family saga’ novel i’ve read.