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A Thousand Acres
A Thousand Acres
Author: Jane Smiley
A successful Iowa farmer decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare?s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twen...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781400033836
ISBN-10: 1400033837
Publication Date: 12/2/2003
Pages: 384
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 61 ratings
Publisher: Anchor
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
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.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
My favorite book of all time. Just remember that it is a story of incest and how two sisters deal with it.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 376 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Good story overall but I had a hard time getting through the first half. It was a little slow to me.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
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.
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reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 12 more book reviews
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.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 1073 more book reviews
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.

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