Monday, February 16, 2015

The Stone Diaries

I'll admit right up front, I wasn't sure whether to give The Stone Diaries four or five stars.  I almost settled on five, then, well, you'll see.

This is a tough book to warm up to.  The first part is odd and uncomfortable, even moreso because you don't know exactly what you're dealing with.  Biography?  That may be, but its like no other you've read.  After the warm-up period, though, the book's charm creeps up on you, and before you know it, you're pretty invested in Daisy's life and family.

The general idea of the book is that it follows a regular person, Daisy Goodwill Hoad Flett, from birth to death.  Average in almost every way, but still uniquely herself, except for an enduring loneliness throughout the course of her life.

The secret, of course, is that most people feel the voids that Daisy does, the disconnects.  Its a normal part of life, and while Daisy explains hers through motherlessness, plenty of people feel it and assign the cause to a different or similar reason.

For a book with tinges of magical realism, this is a very nitty gritty look at someone just pulling on through the life they've been given, sometimes making the best of it, sometimes wallowing, often times not knowing exactly what they're doing.

In a couple of ways, this is a deeply disconcerting book, particularly for anyone interested in genealogy.  Or long-term meaning in life.  The incompleteness of a record of a life is never more apparent.

There's a chapter near the end where Daisy, her family, her friends, and even acquaintances give their theories on the reasons behind Daisy's deep depression.  There's a lot of meat there, a tremendous amount of food for thought.  From there on out, the book is just stellar.

I was all set to give this five stars, then I let this review sit long enough for me to read A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons.  I realized that book was just about everything I was looking for in The Stone Diaries, but just much more more.  

Final call:
If you decide to read this, don't let the first chapter scare you away.

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