- Series: The Last Hundred Years Trilogy: A Family Saga (Book 3)
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (June 28, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307744825
- ISBN-13: 978-0307744821
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 193 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Golden Age (The Last Hundred Years Trilogy: A Family Saga) Paperback – June 28, 2016
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“A monumental portrait of an American family and an American century. . . . Smiley’s plot is a marvel of intricacy that’s full of surprises.” —Los Angeles Times
“Captivating. . . . Smiley’s trilogy is a significant achievement, animating American history through the Langdon family story.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Outlines, with warmth and wisdom, a tumultuous time for the extended Langdon family and the United States.” —The Boston Globe
“A saga not to be missed.” —Huffington Post
“Ambitious, absorbing. . . . Golden Age flows with the nuances and rhythms of everyday life, with time passing steadily, through births and deaths, triumph and tragedy.” —Miami Herald
“Strike[s] a fine balance between the history of an era’s ‘great ideas’ and the history of its everyday life. . . . It’s a small miracle how much ground Smiley covers and how much she knows: about biochemistry, horses and genetics, but also medieval literature, financial instruments and especially politics.” —The Washington Post
“[Smiley] keeps the interwoven plotlines moving forward with her beautiful clean sentences and fully realized characters.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Breathtaking. . . . Epic. . . . With The Last Hundred Years trilogy, [Smiley] surely confirms her place alongside Roth, Updike and Bellow as one of the truly great chroniclers of 20th-century American life. . . . A powerful, moving and rewarding experience. ” —The Guardian (London)
“That all of these characters seem so true—from what they eat and wear and drive to how they act and think and feel—is a testament to Smiley’s extraordinary talent (and extraordinary application).” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Smiley tells not only the story of an American family, but also the story of America itself. . . . The way the characters interact with history is indivisible from the way they interact with each other, which is inextricably bound up with family dynamics and the mystery of human personality.” —Chicago Tribune
“A literary historical panorama. . . . The power of Smiley’s project ultimately lies in her ability to situate her readers here, on the edge of a new world.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Radiant. . . . Beautifully crafted.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“There’s much to admire: Smiley’s attention to detail in each and every year; her knowledge of politics, environmentalism, and genetics; her humor; her stripped back prose. . . . Smiley chronicles 20th-century life like few have, with the same scope and fastidiousness of Phillip Roth, Saul Bellow, and John Updike.” —Miami New Times
“Bold, satisfying . . . insightful. Smiley is superb when it comes to summing up a character’s hopes and insecurities. . . She is an endlessly sensitive explorer of liberty and the abandonments it entails. . . . Golden Age is a welcome reminder of her enormous talents as a storyteller.” —Financial Times
“Compelling. . . . Familial relationships are explored with biting intelligence, great narrative skill, good humor and generosity of spirit. . . . Her humanely realized characters are what make these novels so addictive. . . . Golden Age reverberates with shocks and surprises.” —BookPage
“Timeless in the rapture of its storytelling and the humanness of its insights. . . . Readers will be reading, and rereading, Smiley’s Last Hundred Years far into the next.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Warmly affecting . . . Smiley is a skilled storyteller. . . . The narrative energy of masterfully interwoven plotlines always conveys a sense of life as an adventure worth pursuing.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fitting conclusion to the trilogy . . . The boon of Smiley’s writing is her unforgettable characters and unexpected relationships.” —Library Journal
About the Author
Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, Some Luck and Early Warning, the first volumes of The Last Hundred Years trilogy. She is also the author of five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.
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The best writing of the trilogy lies in the first book, during the Depression and World War II years. Smiley's sense of time and place, capturing that period, is laser sharp. She is less adept at capturing the more recent decades, particularly from the 80s on. This book careens into the 90s at breakneck speed, crashing into the depressing 00s, followed by a short breather in 2010-14 when things began to stabilize, and then jolting incomprehensibly into a near future that is impossibly grim even for the most jaded observer of current events. Everything seemed believable enough for the first 90 years (despite a character finding himself on a doomed plane on 9/11, which I thought was a bit much). In the last 100 pages, things quickly unravel into a surreal nightmare. I think the work could have greatly benefitted from the author taking five more years to finish it.
It is about love and loyalty to the land farmers inhabit and the conjoined efforts they share with each other. Many of these type families were immigrants from countries that held no opportunities for them. They labored long and hard to deserve the land they homesteaded in this country and were ever mindful of the chance they had to be landowners.
The family evolves into accomplished careers and there are fascinating relationships between family members as fortunes come and go. There is love and jealousy and devotion as well as poor choices, heartbreak and unexpected loss.
I think the trilogy is a complex, truthful portrait of farm life in Iowa over the last century.