The protagonist of Carol Shields' sixth novel (1993) is Daisy Goodwill, an unremarkable woman who in her declining years begins an uncharacteristic inward journey fuelled by a single question: "What is the story of a life?" Shields's chronicle of Daisy's life, which moves from her birth in 1905 to her death in the 1980s, uses autobiographical conventions and also highlights the limitations of biography and autobiography. Daisy sees her life as an "assemblage of dark voids and unbridgeable gaps," but the novel's celebration of the quotidian and the "tiny allotted increments of knowledge" itself constitutes, if only partially, the story of a life.
Although the novel contains external trappings of a conventional autobiography (a family tree and a section of photos, for example), the autobiographical subject, a woman with "a talent for self-obliteration," remains elusive - hence her pointed absence from the family photo album. What can we know even of ourselves, let alone the mysteries of those with whom we share close biological and emotional ties? This central question is further problematized by Daisy's unreliability as a narrator and the novel's several changes in narrative perspective. The first-person narrator is sometimes clearly Daisy the autobiographer but also shifts to third-person omniscience. A subtle intersection of history, story, and memory, The Stone Diaries was shortlisted for England's Booker Prize and won the Governor General's Award for Fiction in 1993 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1995.