The main character is Daisy Goodwill, and it’s not exactly a diary. But Stone refers to the surname given to all the orphans at the orphanage where Daisy’s mother Mercy was brought up and to Daisy’s father’s preoccupation with stone as a quarry worker and then a stone sculptor. Daisy is herself almost an orphan, her mother dying in childbirth; her father not seeing her again until she was eleven.
The novel tells her story from birth to death, 1905 to the 1990s. Its scope is huge; we learn the stories and fates of many of the people whose lives contribute to Daisy’s.
Most interesting to me was the life of her father-in-law, Magnus Flett, who lives to 116, the last fifty years of his life spent unknown and estranged from his family, who all think him long dead. Daisy, visiting Scotland, comes across him.
The novel embraces many genres, a tapestry of biography, monologue, newspaper articles and letters.