What Do I Read Next?
- Shields's three volumes of short stories (Various Miracles, The Orange Fish, and Dressing Up for the Carnival) are collected in The Collected Stories of Carol Shields, which was published by Random House of Canada in 2004. The collection also contains Shields's last and hitherto unpublished story, "Seque."
- In her biography Jane Austen, published by Penguin Group in 2005, Shields uses her own appreciation of family life and its dynamics as she describes the early nineteenth-century novelist, Jane Austen, in her domestic scenes at Steventon and Bath, England. She also explores Austen's intense relationship with her sister, Cassandra, and Austen's broken marital engagement. The biography is perhaps most important because it explores how great fiction is created.
- Shields's novel, Unless, which was published by Harper in 2003, tells the story of Reta Winters, forty-four, an author of light fiction and a nominee for important prizes, as her successful life crumbles in the face of her oldest daughter's decision to drop out of college and become a street person and panhandler. The novel explores the nature of goodness as it tracks the family response to this daughter's choices.
- Ian McEwan's popular novel, Atonement, which was published by Doubleday in 2002, is set in England, on one day in 1935 and a subsequent day during the retreat from Dunkirk, early in World War II. Written in prose similar to that of Henry James and concerned with an accusation that ruins two lives and a subsequent question about whether it was justified, this novel explores the way in which past events can be reexamined and reinterpreted years later.
- Alice McDermott's Child of My Heart, published in 2002 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is set on Long Island one summer in the 1960s. The story pertains to fifteen-year-old Theresa and her visiting cousin Daisy, about their fantasies and emerging sexual awareness.
- Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's novel, A Woman of Independent Means, which first appeared from Viking in 1978 and was reissued by Penguin Group in 1998, has certain similarities to The Stone Diaries. The life of Hailey's protagonist Bess Steed Garner extends from the early 1900s to the 1960s, and it is told by a compilation of documents, letters, newspaper articles, telegrams, and announcements. Bess has the money and determination to survive through a less than perfect marriage and difficulties with children, and she defies a society which expects her to conform to its standards.