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A Thousand Acres: A Novel Paperback – December 2, 2003
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Aging Larry Cook announces his intention to turn over his 1,000-acre farm--one of the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa--to his three daughters, Caroline, Ginny and Rose. A man of harsh sensibilities, he carves Caroline out of the deal because she has the nerve to be less than enthusiastic about her father's generosity. While Larry Cook deteriorates into a pathetic drunk, his daughters are left to cope with the often grim realities of life on a family farm--from battering husbands to cutthroat lenders. In this winner of the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Smiley captures the essence of such a life with stark, painful detail. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the NBCC Award for fiction, a BOMC dual main selection and a five-week PW bestseller in cloth, Smiley's novel of family life on an insular Iowa farm raises profound questions about human conduct and moral responsibility.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Loosely based on the plot of "King Lear," this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley is a masterpiece that unabashedly delves into the hearts and souls of her characters, exposing something so raw and tender, one almost has to turn away because it seems so private and personal. But it is humanity she is exposing. It is all of us she is exposing.
You can fully understand and appreciate this book without ever having read "King Lear"; however, for those who have read Shakespeare's play, it's fun to see the parallels. Kindle's X-Ray feature helpfully tells you how each character in "A Thousand Acres" is aligned to the characters in "King Lear."
Jane Smiley is a writer's writer. I heard her speak at the 2015 National Book Festival, and she said she wanted to write books in many genres. This takes not only prodigious talent, but also great courage. It's comfortable to write well in one way, especially after achieving commercial success. But it must be a bit unnerving to try something so radically different, and she seems to do this with each book she writes--and succeeds in it.
If you don't know the plot, here is a very simplified version: Smiley presents us with a family that owns a 1000 acre farm in 1970's Iowa. We have Larry, Caroline, Ginny and Rose who are obviously representing Lear, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Larry, who is getting on in years, decides to transfer ownership of his farm between his 3 daughters, with Caroline not agreeing. This begins a journey in which none of the characters fare very well.
Much like Shakespeare's play, Smiley gives us a rich novel full of varying themes. However, it is also simple and honest. I say simple not as an insult, but indeed a compliment. Smiley is able portray common tragedies and instances of abhorrence and turn them into a multi-faceted series of events that propel the actions and growth of the characters.
If you haven't read this novel, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy today!
Incest impacts memory, emotion and life. Ultimately, incest can be destiny for we are forever in its shadow. The story is told from Ginny's vantage point as the middle daughter recreates her family's challenges, triumphs and tragedies.
This is a remarkable book in its perspicacity,brilliance and terror. Smiley's language is rich and succinct at the same time. The scenes are revisited as though viewed from another direction. I was mesmerized throughout.
This is a book I will reread several times. This is my second reading.
The plot structure keeps you enthralled, but it's also disturbing, sort of like a Midwest version Heart of Darkness, with one voyaging into an ever-increasing sense of disaster and ruin. You can see a train wreck coming, and keeping hoping that it won't. And that brings up the one problem I had with the book. I felt that one of the main characters did something that that person never would have done. Yes, the action was properly motivated. But it just didn't ring true for me. I think that mainstream Americans are somehow better than that (don't want to write a spoiler here...).