Share for friends:

Small Ceremonies (1996)

Small Ceremonies (1996)

Book Info

3.7 of 5 Votes: 5
Your rating
0140251456 (ISBN13: 9780140251456)
penguin books

About book Small Ceremonies (1996)

The book started off terribly promising - looking at the art of writing biographies versus novels, i.e. what it takes from an author to write a book of these two different genres. The main characters are authors and teachers of literature. In the beginning the lines had me thinking.Halfway through, the book fizzled for me. The characters no longer rang true. Their behavior did not make sense to me. All the empty talk and socializing quite simply left me cold. The characters kept secrets from each other! Such behavior is very foreign to me. I find such behavior totally incomprehensible. The message relayed about how authors take real life events and then fictionalize them became disappointingly banal. There could have been an interesting discussion of the differences between Canadian, American and British cultures. This is not explored in the novel.The audiobook narration by Justis Bolding was well done - the speed good and the different intonations for different characters easy to recognize.

I picked this up years ago at a library book sale for a nickel or a dime (not kidding!) and absolutely loved it. I love the characters. Judith's husband is so sweet and academic and patient (if occasionally grumpy). Her kids are believably fussy. I've read one or two other of Carol Shields' books - the sequel to this one, about Judith Gill's sister, and (I think) "The Stone Diaries," for which she became famous. And I've bought several others that I've never managed to read. Despite those later disappointments, I love Carol Shields' writing because she wrote *this book*, and I persist in believing that I'll find an attachment to something else of hers eventually. I love the attention she pays to women's lives - something Jane Austen did with her domestic novels, and something Anne Tyler does (less successfully for me).

Do You like book Small Ceremonies (1996)?

A novel that succeeds brilliantly on three levels. The first is that it manages to tell a simple story about a genteel-sort of mid-life crisis, and tell it with a wonderful light touch that gives lie to anyone who believes that one can't tell a thoughtful, compelling tale of suburban Canadian life.The second level of success comes with the usual Carol Shields touch of making ordinary people sound extraordinarily authentic. The final level of success comes with the novel being a brilliantly accidental historical artifact. It's set in an early 1970s era that is completely real yet never in-your-face. An era of wall-to-wall carpeting, cigarettes, family room televisions, and people still writing letters to each other -- an era so near, yet so far from our current state of being."Small Ceremonies" is a true winner, and another high quality Carol Shields novel.
—Daniel Kukwa

This was another page-turner for me. I loved the elegant way that she wrote a novel about a woman seeking to write a novel, and being let in on the complexity of both/either undertakings. I enjoyed the interplay of the many characters with mystery and constancy of faithfulness being important features of the lives recorded. I was also fascinated by Shields' playing out the process of biography writing and the role that Susanna Moodie, the subject of the biographer-protagonist, had in the story. Do we ever really know those people closest to us? The novel was full of intimate discovery and wonderment. I'm encouraged to go on reading Carol Shields.

I have not yet read anything by Carol Shields that I have not liked, so this book was no exception in that regard. As always, her characters are flawed, and likeable more because of that than anything else. Judith Gill, the main character in this book finds herself looking at her life in an almost bewildered way. She knows she should be happy, but wonders if she truly is. Shields has injected the novel with her usual dose of satire on academia, but one of the most wonderful things is how she pokes fun at herself here. One of the characters, a successful fiction writer keeps a terrible secret - I don't want to give anything away here, let me leave it at: Carol Shields was born in the US!

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Carol Shields

Other books in category Fiction