I just love Carol Shields.
Shields was a Canadian author* who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Stone Diaries (an excellent novel) and who wrote a number of other fantastic novels as well.** I tend to think of her as the Canadian Anne Tyler (another author I really enjoy), in that she doesn't tell huge grand stories, but her characters are always thoughtful, interesting people, and her prose is beautifully easy to read. I suppose you could call her books "women's fiction," but I would prefer it if you didn't. I tend to think of "women's fiction" as synonymous with "Jodi Picoult," which of course makes me wary of "women's fiction."***
Even though I love her, I have not yet read all of her novels. I dole them out to myself like little treats, and the one I treated myself to this summer was Small Ceremonies. It was good, and short, and frankly, I'm not even going to give you the plot summary, because the plot really isn't the point.
The point IS that Carol Shields was a super-talent. Get out there and pick out any one of her novels (although The Stone Diaries and Unless are two particularly strong choices, in my opinion) and treat yourself this fall.
*Sadly, she died in 2003.
**In addition to raising five kids, which to me is just unbelievable, and a bit sick-making, actually.
***Give me chick lit instead, any day.