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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
this is a powerful (and tragic) novel, and Jane Smiley writes at her best when focussing on farm families in the US. I enjoyed the unexpected twists and turns in the plotPublished 10 days ago by SueH
I, too, found the book to be something akin to a Harlequin romance. I also resent the fact that one reviewer mocked another as a "silly young girl" because he/she didn't... Read morePublished on July 16 2004
A Thousand Acres is full of surprises. Jane Smiley shows us how a family, like any other crop, can be corrupted by sins committed on the land. Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by Larry Hand
Don't like the book? That's fine. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but before you go and start a raving review like the silly seventeen year-old girl who disliked the... Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by Prem Lee Barbosa
I read this about 12 years ago and loved it. Smiley has a way with words. She describes anything well, whether it's her characters' thoughts, farm work or a dream. Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by Luis M. Luque
Despite my friends highly rating this book, I just couldn't get into it. I found it unconvincing with weak premises and I failed to establish a strong bond with the characters. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
Smiley weaves a story that slowly draws you in and once hooked, it's hard to put down. The drama is subtle, in the beginning we learn about the characters and their somewhat simple... Read morePublished on March 14 2004 by Ann M. Douglas
book full of rich descriptions making you feel as if you are there. I couldn't put this book down. I do however feel that I didn't understand the dad fully and wanted to know why... Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2004 by Tonya Speelman