A well written book. It gives a dark picture of human nature. It portrays mankind as self-centered, manipulative, and vengeful. The worldview of this book would definitely be that men and women are basically sinful. Not a book for those looking for a "feel good" piece of literature.
The parallels to King Lear in this novel are so well-crafted and so subtly slipped in that the reader would not realize it unless it was pointed out. Smiley does a brilliant job of constructing believable characters - some fragile, others strong, all of them fully rounded. The way she describes the farmland is unmatched. Definitely recommended.
In spite of how dark and painful as this book was, I would have to say that I liked it. Smiley certainly did a great job of making me not want to put it down and I genuinely felt for the characters. The matter-of-fact way that unimaginable tragedy was woven in to the story and accepted by a hardened town of farmers seems like a testament to human endurance.
But what I was left with from this story is how each of our individual lives are shaped by our reactions more than our actions. Rose and Ginny at first seemed like similar farmer's wives, but when asked specific questions about their childhood (and general life experiences) you would think they were from different planets. We are that complex and our experiences are that personalized.
This story reminds me to muster at least compassion for others, even those that you always thought you "knew", because what lies under the surface will never be exactly what you imagine.
I will add that there is a hint in this story that the entire experience is really just a farm chemical acid trip, and maybe I could even find comfort in this explanation. Thought provoking book.
When I closed the back cover on this book, I just sat and stared into space for a bit. This book wore me out emotionally. Not that it's full of bad events in and of themselves, but it's so slowly and quietly told that the story builds without you really knowing it, until, at the end, you're left with sort of an 'oh my god' feeling. Other people I've spoken to have said the same sort of thing. It's not terribly depressing, so I recommend it, but it does sort of stop you in your tracks at the end.
This is my first Smiley book, so I don't know if all her stuff is like this, but I have a few more on the shelf, so we'll see.
A journey into an awakening of self. The decisions Ginnie makes as she goes beyond her usual self-inflicted boundaries are both quiet and yet momentous! She shows us how a private life and history can't always stay hidden forever and with bravery she shows how she takes control and moves forward. It's both a little dark and yet a rich tale.
This book was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book is about the lives and loves of a farming family living in the midwest and takes place mostly in the 70's. Parts of it will make you laugh and some will make you want to cry--a very good book.
Classic story of contemporary American life. Wealth, in a thousand acres of land cannot stay the hand of tragedy. A story of sisters, daughters, wives, and husbands, and the father. Set in the midwest, it explores the dual nature of every character. Pulitzer prize winner.
This is a story about a family who, on the surface are happy, safe and secure. As the story unfolds, the reader learns of the family secrets. These secrets have been hidden from not only the outside but also to family members. The family begins to unravel as a result.
Interesting story worth reading.
Jane Smile has set her rich, dramatic novel in the farmlands, featuring an American family whose wealth cannot stay the hand of tragedy. It is the intense, compelling story of a father and his daughters, of sisters, wives and husbands and of the human cost of a lifetime spent trying to subdue the land and the passions it stirs.
This retelling of the Lear tragedy in mid-20th century America gets a lot of things right -- particularly the mindset of the American farmer during a period when family-based agriculture was struggling to survive. But some of the actions of the main character seem to spring from nowhere, and that makes it hard to buy into the reality Smiley is attempting to create.
This was a real page turner. Within the confines of the King Lear story, Jane Smiley manages to draw us into an absorbing story of an Iowa farm family. We get insight into what it's like to live off of and depend on the land, to function within a tight-knit community that watches every move you make, and what makes those farmers of Northern European descent tick. The need to stick to the Lear story line, though, leads to some false notes towards the end of the story. Overall, a fantastic novel that will stay with me forever.
I read another author's book and loved it and in an interview she said this was one of her favorite books. Well, I hated it. I didn't know how dark and depressing it would be. When I finished reading it I felt so weighed down and depressed. I snapped at my children and yelled at my husband and realized it was because I felt so irritated at the terrible choices the characters made and how awful they were to each other. I'm disgusted with what I read and I'm tempted to donate this book to my local library rather than wait for someone to request my copy.
I always love to read the books over the movies, but I saw movie first. Very close to movie as I remebered, I enjoyed the book. Easy reading for those lazy days you want to escape and get caught up in a book.
I couldn't get past the second or third chapter. I had a HARD time keeping the characters straight, and the book was waaaaay to "wordy" (used 5 adj where 1 or 2 would work). Couldn't keep my interest, sorry.
This book was simply too much 'could be real life' for me to enjoy it. I think that there was too much detail given about the scenery and charaters, so you were reading paragraph long descriptions for something that could have been summed up in a few words. I also felt that the ending was a let down.
This was a very sad book. From the aging father signing the rights to the farm to his daughters, to the inevitable loss of the farm altogether it seems as if one tragedy after another befalls the family. Untimely death, incest, adultery, lawsuits, accidents, attempted murder, you name it, page after page it happens.
Like all of Jane Smiley's works this book is very well written, and I enjoyed the experience of reading it, even if it was kind of like a train wreck. You don't want to look, but you just can't look away. If you're looking for something like "Moo" keep looking, this isn't even close, but if you're looking for a bittersweet, tragic read to remind you that "no matter how bad it seems, it could be worse", look no further.
When I first started reading the first 40 or so pages of this book I kept asking myself "How did this book earn a Pulitzer?" There is much talk about farming so I wasn't that interested. The characters were slowly revealing themselves, then bam! My answer to why it was a National Best Seller and earned a Pulitzer was more than answered in those 371 pages. Page after page I never expected this story to evolve the way it did. This book reveals human nature in all it's beauty and ugliness.
Pulitzer Prize winning novel, loosely based on King Lear, set in the American Midwest; a story of love, jealousy,family dysfunction, greed, miserliness, and the amassing of a huge industrial farm and at least one plot.
Dad is crazier as he ages, the sisters can't agree on what to do with the land they will inherit, and the husbands have to put their two cents in. Add a little extra marital fling, some death and away you go. One of the best Pulizers I have read.
This is a fantastic book. If you are familiar with King Lear it adds an extra layer of resonance, but the book doesn't depend on those shared plot elements. I really felt for the characters and was surprised and moved by their actions.
tani reviewed A Thousand Acres (Audio Cassette) on
A father in Iowa is proud and possessive about his farm. He surprisingly decides to retire and hand it over to his three daughters. The two eldest are eager to get it, but the youngest hesitates, and when she does, her father cuts her out. This is the King Lear story transposed to the present day. From the back cover: "...in doing so, [it] at once illuminates Shakespeare's original and subtly transforms it. This astonishing novel won both America's highest literary awards, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics' Circle Award."
This is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's King Lear. An aging farmer offers his land to his three grown daughters; two daughters accept his offer but one rejects it. This sets in motion emotional events that impact the whole family. Interesting read, even if you don't like Shakespeare. There's no Shakespeare in it, but it follows the plot of his play, "King Lear."
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.
From Publisher's Weekly:
A young American model is murdered in the corporate boardroom of Los Angeles's Nakomoto Tower on the new skyscraper's gala opening night. Murdered, that is, unless she was strangled while enjoying sadomasochistic sex that went too far. Nakomoto, a Japanese electronics giant, tries to hush up the embarrassing incident, setting in motion a murder investigation that serves Crichton ( Jurassic Park ) as the platform for a clever, tough-talking harangue on the dangers of Japanese economic competition and influence-peddling in the U.S. Divorced LAPD lieutenant Peter Smith, who has custody of his two-year-old daughter, and hard-boiled detective John Connor, who says things like "For a Japanese, consistent behavior is not possible," pursue the killer in a winding plot involving Japan's attempt to gain control of the U.S. computer industry. Although Crichton's didactic aims are often at cross-purposes with his storytelling, his entertaining, well-researched thriller cannot be easily dismissed as Japan-bashing because it raises important questions about that country's adversarial trade strategy and our inadequate response to it. He also provides a fascinating perspective on how he thinks the Japanese view Americans--as illiterate, childish, lazy people obsessed with TV, violence and aggressive litigation. 225,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When Larry Cook, the aging patriarch of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa, decides to retire, he offers his land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense - a reward for years of hard work, a challenge to make the farm even more successful. But the youngest, Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, flatly rejects the idea, and in anger her father cuts her out - setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged. A classic story of contemporary American life, A Thousand Acres strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a father, a daughter, a family.
When the aging patriach of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa decides to retire, he offers his land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense-a reward for years of hard work, a challenge to make the farm even more successful. but the youngest, Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, flatly rejects the idea, and in anger her father cuts her out-setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged
Aging Larry Cook decides to turn over his 1000 acre Iowa farm to his three daughters, Caroline, Ginny and Rose. When Caroline is less than enthusiastic about the prospect, Larry angrily cuts her out of the deal. This sets off a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, reminiscent of King Lear, and pits father against daughter, sister against sister. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. It was also produced (1997?) as a major motion picture featuring Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Colin Firth.
When an aging patriarch of a rich thriving farm in Iowa decides to retire, he offers the land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense-a reward for years of hard work, a challenge to make the farm more successful. The youngest,Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, reject the idea and her dad cuts her out-setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged.
When the aging patriarch of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa decides to retire, he offers his land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense-a reward for years of hard work., a callenge to make the farm even more successful. But the youngest, Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, flatly rejects the idea, and in anger her father cuts her out-setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged.