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A Thousand Acres: A Novel Paperback – December 2, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But, really, I shouldn't have. Having previously read two books by Jane Smiley (the quite amusing MOO and the intelligent and thoughtful Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel), I should have given her the benefit of the doubt. Within the first fifty pages, I was surprised that Smiley had drawn me into her story, and while it was still fairly mundane (the family dog wasn't going to start talking on page 100, to my dismay), I found the voice of the narrator intriguing and wondered just how much of King Lear Smiley was going to be able to transpose to 1970s Iowa.Read more ›
Those who will love this book the most are people who know farm life in the American Middle West well. Having had a grandfather, father and several uncles who were farmers in Illinois raising lots of corn and hogs, I was first impressed by how well Ms. Smiley captured the attitudes, experiences, psychology and perspectives of the American family farmer during the 1930s through the 1980s. I felt like I was reading the history of my own family for about the first third of the book.
Then, she powerfully shifts the ground as the patriarch of the family, Larry Cook, decides to cede control over the family farm to avoid estate taxes. From there, a superficial reading will see this as a modern version of King Lear. I think that obvious parallel is not an accurate view of the book. Instead, this book takes on the qualities of a Greek tragedy as the characters move inexorably towards their preordained fates. What's the source of the tragedy? It's the pride of the American family farmer who lusts for more land and production.
In fact, this book could have been titled "Life Drains Away" as the forces set into action by the characters create an ironic threat to some of the same characters.Read more ›
That said, I can now declare that I think *A Thousand Acres* is a good, but not "great" novel. Jane Smiley is an excellent writer, and although the book starts a bit slowly, the momentum and intrigue build as pages fly by. Her ability to describe the landscapes, moods, and rhythms of midwestern farm life is commendable, and for me, this proved to be perhaps the most consistently satisfying aspect of the book.
The plot can only be described as "dark," perhaps excessively so to seem plausible. Incest, insanity, suicide, the casual plotting of vengeful murders--anything that might form the basis for an extended commentary on the possibilities for depravity in the Human Condition--it's all here! There is so much depravity here, in fact, that after a while I found myself (figuratively) rolling my eyes at each new twist in the plot. A bit over the top, Jane!
I confess that I found it dismaying that each and every male character in the book proved himself to be rotten, exhibiting behavior ranging anywhere from insensitive clottishness to manipulative and smarmy don Juanism to ranting, bullying, incest-practicing insanity. What a bunch of great guys! In all fairness, the women in the book aren't much better.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reading this was like walking down a curvy dirt road in farm country. It shrunk down to a dirt track and then disappeared into nothing. There was no passion in the story. Read morePublished 6 hours ago by Lynn Mc
Well written - much darker than I imagined but as a farm girl I could really relatePublished 1 month ago by Susan
This book is about farms,farming,farmers. Family owned farms were closing down, being sold. Too expensive to keep. Read morePublished 1 month ago by josephine briggs
What an awful group of people. What a depressing book. Not a single likable character and no comeuppance for the wicked. Just a bizarre rambling, like stream of consciousness. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Teresa
I love Jane Smiley's books! After reading her trilogy, I decided to read this book because I had read so many positive things about it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by DC in St Pete