ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: A library, book stores, cappuccino bars, a pub, a promenade along the sea and an airport close by.
CHARACTER OF BUILDING: Late Victorian, with cosy corners, wide screened porches and a tower to use as a writing room.
CONSTRUCTION: Brick with wood trim.
BEDROOMS: Four. We like to have visitors.
RECEPTION ROOMS: Four. A living room and a dining room and two studies, one for me and one for my husband Don, who is the Dean of Engineering at the University of Manitoba. High ceilings would be very important to me. I live now in a modern apartment with suffocatingly standard ceilings.
ESSENTIAL KITCHEN FEATURES: An immense bay window and cappuccino on tap.
DECORATIVE STYLE: Cosy clutter is what I like best. I would furnish with antique and modern furniture, and beautiful silk rugs from China and India, which I love.
LUXURIES: Wood burning fireplaces. Also, someone to pop in and clean when I'm out. I always feel awkward when there's someone in the house cleaning it, and prefer to be out.
VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS: As well as views of the ocean, I'd like to see displays of foliage and English flowers. I especially love lupins which don't seem to thrive in Canada.
GARDEN: A postage-stamp sized garden paved with old bricks and enlivened with vine geraniums in clay pots.
NEIGHBOURS: A large genial family next door with a number of well-behaved children. We have five children but they are all grown up, and I like the sound of children's voices.
MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: None, please. I distrust mottoes as much as I do multiple epigraphs in books.
WHAT IT WOULD COST: According to Tom Johnson, President of Thomas L Johnson Realty Ltd in Toronto, Carol Shields would have to spend pounds 425,000 for a late Victorian house in the prime Toronto districts of Rosedale or Forest Hill. Such a property would be rare in La Jolla, according to Jan Cheatham at Realty Executive in La Jolla, because most ocean-front houses are contemporary. La Jolla is the most expensive suburb in San Diego and favoured by the rich and famous, including Janet Jackson. Ocean-front property is prime and prices for a four bedroom house start at pounds 2.25m.
! Carol Shields won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her novels The Stone Diaries and The Box Garden have recently been published in paperback by Fourth Estate at pounds 5.99.
INTERVIEW BY ROSANNA GREENSTREETReuse content