The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling novel from one of America's greatest contemporary writers, repackaged as part of the Perennial fiction promotion. Larry Cook's farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. Proud and possessive, his sudden decision to retire and hand over the farm to his ...
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling novel from one of America's greatest contemporary writers, repackaged as part of the Perennial fiction promotion. Larry Cook's farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. Proud and possessive, his sudden decision to retire and hand over the farm to his three daughters, is disarmingly uncharacteristic. Ginny and Rose, the two eldest, are startled yet eager to accept, but Caroline, the youngest daughter, has misgivings. Immediately, her father cuts her out. In 'A Thousand Acres', Jane Smiley transposes the 'King Lear' story to the modern day, and in so doing at once illuminates Shakespeare's original and subtly transforms it. This astonishing novel won both of America's highest literary awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics' Circle Award.
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Smiley hit the nail on the head with dysfunctional familly dynamics. Her characters are true to life and reveal the disparity between performance for appearance sake and what goes on in secret. The novel is certainly a riveting read, but more importantly, it is thought-provoking and illuminating.
Aug 1, 2010
Don't pass this one by
I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish. It's a wonderful adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear set on a farm in Iowa. There a few alterations to the Bard's tale: incest, a church dinner gone foul. Also, Smiley's version of sororicide is much more thoughtful and ingenious.
The only problem I had with it: the narrator of the tale (Ginny) uses an educated form of speech that I don't believe would be used by a person who has never been to college nor even left her farm.
Publishers Weekly, 1992-08-31 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. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1991-08-23 If Smiley ( Ordinary Love & Good Will ) has previously been hailed for her insight into human nature, the moral complexity of her themes and her lucid and resonant prose, her new novel is her best yet, bringing together her extraordinary talents in a story of stunning insight and impact. ``Our farm and our lives seemed secure and good,'' says narrator Ginny Cook, looking back on the summer before her father capriciously decided to turn over his prosperous 1000-acre Iowa farm to his three daughters and their mates. That was the same summer that Jess Clark, their neighbors' prodigal son, returned after a 13-year absence, romance and peril trailing in his wake. Although Ginny's existence as a farmer's wife and caretaker of her irascible, bullying, widower father is not easy, there are compensations in her good marriage, in the close companionship of her indomitable sister Rose, who lives across the road, and in sharing vicariously in the accomplishments of their younger sister, Caroline, a lawyer. Having managed to submerge her grief at being childless, passive Ginny has also hidden a number of darker secrets in her past. These shocking events work their way out of her subconscious in the dreadful aftermath of her father's decision to rescind his legacy, shouting accusations of filial betrayal. Like Lear's daughters, the Cook sisters each reveal their true natures in events that will leave readers gasping with astonishment. Smiley powerfully evokes the unrelenting, insular world of farm life, the symbiotic relationships between a farmer and his land as well as those among the other members of the rural community. She contrasts the stringencies of nature with those of human nature: the sting of sibling rivalry, the tensions of marriage, the psychological burdens of children, the passion of lovers. Her tightly controlled prose propels tension to nearly unbearable extremes--but always within the limits of credibility. In the end, she has raised profound questions about human conduct and moral responsibility, especially about family relationships and the guilt and bitterness they can foster. BOMC selection. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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