The Stone Diaries

Shields, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction
Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Wear, Delese
  • Date of entry: Dec-19-1996


The Stone Diaries is the story of Daisy Stone Goodwill, an ordinary woman born in 1905 in Manitoba, who arrives in this world at the same time her mother leaves it, and who moves through the world as child, daughter, young wife, widow, mother, friend, grandmother, and old woman. What makes The Stone Diaries extraordinary, in addition to the quiet lyrical quality of Shields's writing, is the book's autobiographical form: Daisy tries to tell the story of her life by becoming a witness to her life in ways quite impossible in a traditional autobiographical format (e.g. she witnesses her own birth).

Woven throughout the book is Daisy's sense of never quite being in control, of never being the subject of her own life but rather being pulled along by forces beyond her control. Only during the last dreaming weeks as she lies dying, contemplating her own life and death, does she realize that she's never constructed the story of her life, which she is finally able to do as she "returns to currency all that's been sampled and stored and dreamed into being."


The "good fit" of this wonderful book is wide open. I can see teaching it in courses on the family, on women, on aging. It is also a remarkable study in narrative voice: it pushes the idea of autobiography to different levels by the fictional-imaginative reconstruction of the "facts" of a human life.


This book won a Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was a finalist for the Booker Prize.


Penguin: Viking Penguin

Place Published

New York



Secondary Source