The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
In this Pulitzer Prize winner of 1995, Carol Shields tells the story of Daisy Stone Goodwill. Born in 1905, we follow Daisy’s journey from the womb (starting from Daisy’s father and mother), to childhood, adulthood, marriages (two), motherhood, and old age. Her journey spans almost the entire 1900, so it is in a way also a portrait of the century.
The book comes with a family tree at the front. Some of of you might be alarmed by the need of a family tree in any book, but worry not, at least we don’t have multiple characters with the same names :). By the end of the book there are about 10 major characters, plus 10-15 minor ones, so the family tree does help as a reminder. There’s also a collection of old photographs in the middle of the book. The book is fiction, but the photos are there to give an air of biography, as Carol Shields mentioned in one of her interviews. She picked the pictures from family’s old photo boxes, a few are her own children. Mostly for fun really, it seems.
The Stone Diaries won many prizes, and I can see why – it is a book that probably embodies “literary fiction” in its most widely-understood definition. The words are well chosen, the writing has a great rythm, and the style and language are its strongest points. In fact, as I read pages in, I was wondering if Shields was a poet, and she is! I don’t even read poetry, but apparently I can recognize poetic language :)
My copy of The Stone Diaries is a bookcrossing book and it has been through a long journey across countries and continents. Here’s the book’s journal and my last update after I read it:
How this book was travelling! I was sent this book by moogytee back in 2007, pretty sure I was in Singapore back then. The book then moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, at my parents’s house for the longest time, as it kinda slipped through the crack when I moved back to Sydney, Australia in 2009. I have since then moved to London in 2011, and found this book sitting in Jakarta when I came back for a short visit in January this year, 2015. I brought it back to London, and literally just finished reading it today.
So gosh, 7.5 years and 3 countries later, I finally read this book. And it was a good one too! Perhaps worth all that wait and travelling? ;)
So my copy of the book (the one pictured above) has come from America, traveled to Singapore, Indonesia, and London. If a book could tell a story…
Mee’s rating: 4/5 – Excellent writing, and quite enjoyable to read, but will it stay with me long term? It’s only been a few weeks, and my memories of the characters and the story are already slipping away..