Carol Shields The Stone Diaries

ISBN 13: 9780143105503

The Stone Diaries

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9780143105503: The Stone Diaries

In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of its original publication, Carol Shields's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is now available in a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

One of the most successful and acclaimed novels of our time, this fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett is a subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. What transforms this seemingly ordinary tale is the richness of Daisy's vividly described inner life--from her earliest memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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L'autore:

Carol Shields (1935-2003) is the author of The Stone Diaries, which won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Canada's Governor General's Award. Her other novels and short-story collections include The Republic of Love, Happenstance, Swann, The Orange Fish, Various Miracles, The Box Garden, and Small Ceremonies (all available from Penguin).

Penelope Lively grew up in Egypt but settled in England after the war and took a degree in history at St Anne's College, Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. She was married to the late Professor Jack Lively, has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren, and lives in Oxfordshire and London.

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave.

Penelope Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 program on children's literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.

Estratto. © Riproduzione autorizzata. Diritti riservati.:

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Introduction

 

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

PENGUIN CLASSICS DELUXE EDITION

THE STONE DIARIES

CAROL SHIELDS (1935-2000) is the author of Dressing Up for the Carnival; Larry’s Party, which won the Orange Prize; and The Stone Diaries, which won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other novels and short story collections include The Republic of Love, Happenstance, Swann, The Orange Fish, Various Miracles, The Box Garden, and Small Ceremonies.

 
PENELOPE LIVELY is the author of numerous award-winning novels, including The Photograph, Consequences, and the Booker Prize-winning Moon Tiger. She lives in London.

PENGUIN BOOKS
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
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First published in Great Britain by Fourth Estate Limited 1993
First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,
a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. 1994
Published in Penguin Books 1995
This edition with an introduction by Penelope Lively published 2008 

 
Copyright © Carol Shields, 1993

Introduction copyright © Penelope Lively, 2008 All rights reserved 
Publisher’s Note This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Shields, Carol.
The stone diaries Carol Shields ; introduction by Penelope Lively.
p. cm.—(Penguin classics deluxe edition)

eISBN : 978-0-143-10550-3

1. Women—Fiction. I. Title.
PR9199.3.S514S76 2008
813’.54—dc22 2008028398 

 
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

For my sister,
Babs

A number of people have read the manuscript for this book and offered encouragement and suggestions. I thank Blanche Howard, Joan Clark, Jim Keller, Anne Giardini, Catherine, Meg and Sara Shields, and, especially, Miss Louise Wyatt of London, Ontario.

nothing she did
or said 

was quite
what she meant 

but still her life
could be called a monument 

shaped in a slant
of available light 

and set to the movement
of possible music

 
(From ?The Grandmother Cycle” by Judith Downing, Converse Quarterly, Autumn)

INTRODUCTION

The best fiction surprises—and withholds. Each time that I read The Stone Diaries I see it differently. It is a story, first of all—the story of a woman, Daisy Goodwill, later Daisy Goodwill Flett. It is also many stories—those of her family and her friends. You read it first as such, drawn in at once by the compelling opening pages, and then keen to know what is going to happen—to Daisy, to the rest of them. Subsequently it becomes a view of how one woman—many women—lived in the twentieth century, what they expected and what was expected of them. It can be seen as a discussion of the nature of evidence—the way in which there is no single truth about anyone’s life, but as many truths as there are observers. And if you are interested in how a novel is made, it turns into an exercise in narrative technique. And, perhaps, airily—a demonstration of how a novelist can successfully juggle a cast of twenty characters and more over time and space without bewildering the reader.

Here is a story that opens in Manitoba in 1905 and ends in Florida in the 1990s. From birth to death—the parabola of a life, a North American life, with brief excursions to France, to Orkney. Daisy is born into a world that has known neither of the world wars, and in which a woman is required to be first and foremost a domestic support system. She leaves another one in which the globe has contracted and women expect to work outside the home. Her father-in-law sails the Atlantic as a young immigrant from Orkney: At the end of the century Daisy will fly the ocean to trace him. She has experienced the century in a temporal sense, but, as we learn in one of the novel’s deft commentaries, she has never known nude bathing, pierced ears, body massage, and much else that could be seen to characterize the age. Born in ?the murderously hot back kitchen” of a Manitoba stone-worker’s home, she will spend her last years in a three-bedroom Florida condo, a Florida bluehead in a turquoise pantsuit.

Kitchens are rich with significance in the novel—kitchens and what is done in them. The vivid opening chapter has the kitchen as the scene of both birth and death, with the Malvern pudding that Daisy’s mother, Mercy, is cooking as an emblem of domestic labor and achievement—the thickly cut bread, the oozing fruit juices, the sugar. Many years later, Daisy prepares supper for her family—husband, three children—in an Ottawa kitchen (summer heat once more, so a cold meal): jellied veal loaf, sliced tomatoes, potato salad, raspberries again, but in little glass bowls. There is care and attention: the formality of a tablecloth, and before her husband’s return from work Daisy ?fixes” herself—housedress off, fresh clothes, earrings, lipstick. We are told that Daisy desires—deeply, fervently, sincerely—to be a good wife and mother. She is an assiduous reader of women’s magazines, in support of this ambition. In one of the novel’s many significant asides—how others see Daisy—we are given the possible contrasting reactions of a visiting friend of her girlhood, Fraidy Hoyt, herself unmarried and childless. She is perhaps grimly envious—of the distinguished husband, the big house, the beautiful children; or, is she pityingly contemptuous of this woman drowning in domesticity, child-ridden, who probably hasn’t read a book in ten years? Teasingly, we are not told which view Fraidy holds, but this is 1947, and it is tempting to see Fraidy as the voice of the future, ahead of her day, already with the assumptions of the post-feminist woman.

Throughout the novel, the authorial voice alternates with those other voices, creating a deliberate ambiguity. We know what happens to Daisy, and frequently she speaks for herself, but we see her also as others see her, and no two people see her in the same way. Was she happy as a domestic goddess? Maybe not, for in the next, and crucial section of the book—significantly called ?Work, 1955-1964”—she is shown, entirely obliquely, through a sequence of letters written by others, as immersed in a new role as Mrs. Green Thumb, gardening correspondent for the local paper, and eventually devastated and plunged into a lengthy episode of depression when she gets the sack. So was domestic life not work? This section is one of the most powerful in the novel—clever and funny—and it gives much pause for thought, as we see Daisy’s life of that time shimmer behind the words of other people, and it becomes clear that this is the point at which Daisy has achieved some kind of fulfillment and discovers in herself a capacity of which she had been unaware. She strove to be a good wife and mother, but was she in fact stifled by that role?

The whole novel is a cunning tapestry of evidence. Any novelist is of course in the happy position of being omniscient—of knowing everything about everybody, and deciding just how much information to release to the reader. The Stone Diaries is a virtuoso discussion of the nature of evidence itself, of the ways in which it is unreliable and conflicting. In a revealing sequence, we are given a whole slew of opinions about Daisy—those of her children, of her cousin, of Fraidy Hoyt once more. Fraidy believes her to have suffered from sexual starvation—citing her own fifty-four lovers as though this were a more normal record. Her cousin thinks the children drained her. Her daughter Alice sees her—from the viewpoint of a young woman of the 1960s—as without self-esteem in her domestic days: ?She functioned like a kind of slave in our society.” This analysis is taking place during Daisy’s period of depression after she loses her journalistic job, and as a coda to the alternative views we are given an authorial glimpse into Daisy’s own state of mind: ?Sleeping inside her like a small burrowing creature is the certainty that she’ll recover.” Nobody else has mentioned resilience, the capacity to survive. Maybe this is the key to Daisy’s personality.

After Daisy’s death these conflicting voices are once again heard, but interwoven now with another kind of evidence—the cool and indisputable facts of her life: the sequence of addresses at which she has lived, the illnesses from which she has suffered, the organizations to which she has belonged, the list of her bridal lingerie at her 1927 wedding. These flat lists are indeed evidence of a kind—a biographer could make good use of them—and they serve as a neat indication of the times in which she has lived, but they are also bland and uninformative without the color of an accompanying voice. They are there to demonstrate that facts alone can be both revealing and uncommunicative.

One of the novel’s most arresting features is the attention to detail, the use of detail to evoke time and place, from the ingredients of the Malvern pudding in that Manitoba kitchen to the account of Daisy’s sparse possessions in the hospital room of her last days: a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a notebook, a ring of keys. . . . Physical objects are made to provide another kind of evidence, to conjure up the backdrop to Daisy’s life, and they are meticulously chosen and placed within the narrative. Detail is made to define a character: Daisy’s husband, Barker Flett, a senior civil servant with an expertise in botany, is devoted to taxonomy, to the ordering of the botanical world, and we are first introduced to him as a young man with a passionate dedication to the western lady’s slipper, genus Cypripedium, on which he is writing his dissertation: ?Dorsal sepal, column, lateral sepal, sheath, sheathing bract, eye and root.” Somehow, this litany brings Barker Flett more sharply to life than any detached account: We see the way in which he saw things. When we learn what Daisy is wearing as a baby—a tucked nainsook day-slip topped by a plain flannel barrowcoat, which in turn was topped by a buttoned vest in fine white wool, the archaic terms are perfectly evocative of an early twentieth-century infant, and also say something of the person responsible for clothing her. One of the funniest passages in the novel is also one of the most telling, when we hear the bossy, instructing voice of Mrs. Hoad, mother of Daisy’s first husband, lecturing the young bride-to-be: ?When you set the table, be sure the knife blade is turned in. In. Not out. Salad forks, of course, go outside the dinner fork . . . Grape-nuts are a necessity, also a very economical food . . . I wonder if you have discovered Venitian Velva Liquid for your own skin . . . For bath powder I suggest Poudre de Lilas. Some powders can be overwhelming. Men are offended by strong odors . . .” This torrential discourse not only tells us all we need to know about Mrs. Hoad, but serves also as a window into the lifestyle of the prosperous social circles of Bloomington, Indiana, in 1927. And on top of such set-piece instances of deliberate accuracy there is the occasional gift of a piece of throwaway detail that acts as a kind of marker, a reminder of the basic prompt of the novel; the stone with which Daisy’s young mother weighted her Malvern pudding contained three fused fossils of an extremely rare type. We are, after all, reading The Stone Diaries.

Stone is the foundation of the narrative—the dolomitic limestone quarries of Manitoba in which work both Daisy’s father and the father of her future husband, Barker Flett. In time, Cuyler Goodwill is to become a wealthy public figure, a position dependent upon his initial skill with stone. Magnus Flett will eventually return to his native Orkney, solitary and resigned, alienated from his family and requiring the reassurance of that stony landscape from which he came. There is a sense in which Daisy’s own life has been conditioned by stone—her birth in Manitoba, her subsequent youth in Bloomington, Indiana, to which her father’s skills have taken him and where he is prominent and well-regarded, her eventual marriage to and life with Barker Flett, himself a child of the quarries. The narrative rests upon stone, as it were, but its driving force is work.

Work is too often glossed over in fiction, put aside. The Stone Diaries pays proper attention to work, without ever becoming tedious. Most people’s lives, after all, are dominated by what they do, and here is a fiction which recognizes that fact, and gives it due respect. We are told about people’s working lives, with the greatest economy, from the daily time-table of the Manitoba quarrymen to Barker Flett and his lady’s slippers, and, later in the century, Daisy’s daughter Alice with her rarefied academic studies of Chekhov. And there is also, of course, the central issue of Daisy herself, her brief burst of journalistic employment, and the question of whether or not being a good wife and mother can be called work or not. The Stone Diaries is a novel full of activity, sometimes center-stage (those hot kitchens), sometimes in the background, but very much evident. Everybody is grounded—we know how they have spent their days, whether they are conjured up by the authorial voice or made to speak for themselves.

This matter of voices directs the novel, makes it distinctive and arresting...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. 15th. 211 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of its original publication, Carol Shields s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is now available in a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition One of the most successful and acclaimed novels of our time, this fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett is a subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. What transforms this seemingly ordinary tale is the richness of Daisy s vividly described inner life--from her earliest memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780143105503

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. 15th. 211 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of its original publication, Carol Shields s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is now available in a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition One of the most successful and acclaimed novels of our time, this fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett is a subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. What transforms this seemingly ordinary tale is the richness of Daisy s vividly described inner life--from her earliest memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780143105503

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