Robin's Reviews > A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
36555254
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2016, pulitzer-prize-winner, literary-fiction, american

King Lear + 1970's Iowa farm dynasty = riveting storytelling

Having never read Jane Smiley before, I'm glad I started with this dazzling 1992 Pulitzer Prize winner.

Set in 1970's Iowa farm country, we follow the Cook family: Larry, the cruel, no-nonsense patriarch, and his daughters Ginny (the narrator), Rose and Caroline. At the onset of the story, Larry decides to retire and pass down the farm to his daughters and their husbands. Caroline, the youngest, the only daughter who managed to get off the farm and works as a lawyer, is skeptical about this plan. Larry, who doesn't tolerate opposition, is incensed. A rift in the family is born, cracking it open and spilling out all kinds of secrets, eventually bringing forth the painful truth at the core.

I was amazed while reading this; first, because I was drawn in almost immediately, I was so quickly invested in the lives of her characters. I was also amazed at how Smiley incorporated the ambitious Shakespearean inspired plot, taking the story to dark and deep places.

Despite all this depth and darkness, there is an accessibility that carried me through with ease. Marriages with tensions, lost pregnancies, and an unwelcome, sexy interloper ramping up the drama. Betrayal and death and storms and unforgivable acts.

Thanks to its setting, there is a lot of detail about the minutia of American farm life (which sounds like a heck of a lot of hard work). However, this tale is about so much more than tending corn fields and hog raising. It's about family, secrets, identity, and perspective shaping each person's truth. It tells about the unfair rules pertaining to the sexes, and the oppression and abuse of women. It's also about destiny - Ginny in particular lives in a passivity even when she commits her most brutal action, which forces her to wait as she has her whole life.

The book also deals with legacy, an inheritance which encompasses more than just money and objects. This inheritance encompasses lessons and truth passed down from those who have come before. This truth brings with it the death of innocence, the American dream shattered. The coveted, multi-generational farm symbolises the fallacy of dreams at its great, tragic heart.





57 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Thousand Acres.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

November 8, 2016 – Started Reading
November 8, 2016 – Shelved
November 10, 2016 –
20.0% "Loving the quiet tone and pacing of this already. and the no nonsense farmer's toughness."
November 11, 2016 –
38.0%
November 11, 2016 –
30.0%
November 14, 2016 –
40.0%
November 15, 2016 –
55.0%
November 17, 2016 –
87.0%
November 18, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Dolors (new)

Dolors I am sold, great opening sentence for a fantastic, round review, Robin.


Melanie Great review Robin!


Fiona Great review, Robin. It reminded me how blown away I was by this book when I read it.


Robin Dolors wrote: "I am sold, great opening sentence for a fantastic, round review, Robin."

Thank you, Dolors. Your analyses and reviews are SO top-notch, that your compliments have special significance to me :)


Robin Marita wrote: "I agree with Dolors - I simply had to read your review when I saw that opening sentence. Nice review, Robin."

Thanks so much, Marita!


Robin Fiona wrote: "Great review, Robin. It reminded me how blown away I was by this book when I read it."

Thanks, Fiona. I was blown away too. It's such a BIG book, in content as well as thematically, that it was hard for me to capture it in my review.

Melanie wrote: "Great review Robin!"

Thank you, Melanie!


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) I really enjoyed your review, Robin! I loved this too, and so many of your reflections were the same as mine. Fabulous, Robin!


Robin Jaline wrote: "I really enjoyed your review, Robin! I loved this too, and so many of your reflections were the same as mine. Fabulous, Robin!"

Thank you Jaline. It was a really memorable story for me. Have you read any other books by this author?


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) Robin wrote: "Jaline wrote: "Thank you Jaline. It was a really memorable story for me. Have you read any other books by this author?"

I haven't yet read any others by Jane Smiley, Robin - have you?

I have 4 others on my eReader by this author and I'm looking forward to reading more! :)


Robin Jaline wrote: "I haven't yet read any others by Jane Smiley, Robin - have you?

I have 4 others on my eReader by this author and I'm looking forward to reading more! :)"


No, I haven't... I see she's got quite a few other works but am not sure where to start.


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) Robin wrote: "No, I haven't... I see she's got quite a few other works but am not sure where to start."

I know what you mean! Some of her earlier work wasn't even available for eReaders when I first set out her book list in my spreadsheet. She wrote 3 books before this one, and has written a trilogy that I am very interested in but I am missing the middle book so I haven't started it.

I also have "Good Faith", "Ten Days in the Hills", and "Private Life" - written in 2003, 2007, and 2010 respectively. There is also a series of 5 books called Oak Valley Ranch but I don't have those added to my spreadsheet or wishlist either.

I hope this helps and doesn't confuse things even more. :)


message 12: by Robin (last edited Sep 30, 2017 03:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Robin Jaline wrote: "Robin wrote: "I know what you mean! Some of her earlier work wasn't even available for eReaders when I first set out her book list in my spreadsheet. She wrote 3 books before this one, and has written a trilogy that I am very interested in but I am missing the middle book so I haven't started it.

I also have "Good Faith", "Ten Days in the Hills", and "Private Life" - written in 2003, 2007, and 2010 respectively. There is also a series of 5 books called Oak Valley Ranch but I don't have those added to my spreadsheet or wishlist either.

I hope this helps and doesn't confuse things even more. :)"


Hmmmmm... I still don't know what I'll read of hers next, we are spoiled for choice! I'll admit, I've always a little intrigued by Moo. What a title!


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) That is the exact book that attracted me to her writing in the first place, Robin! However, it was very expensive so I didn't get it. I keep watching for the special deals, though :)


back to top