A Thousand Acres

Jane Smiley, Author, Barbara Bristol, Editor Alfred A Knopf Inc $25 (371p) ISBN 978-0-394-57773-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Show other formats
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-449-90748-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-57727-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-87179-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-8041-1576-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8041-9717-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8041-1577-3
Hardcover - 621 pages - 978-1-56054-361-9
Hardcover - 978-0-517-10767-6
Prebound-Glued - 978-0-606-20075-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7857-9854-5
Paperback - 371 pages - 978-0-00-654482-1
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-00-655082-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-30258-6
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4000-3383-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-8097-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-04322-0
Hardcover - 371 pages - 978-0-00-726835-1
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.