Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A Thousand Acres epitomized for me what the Reading Challenges are all about because it is a book that, but for the challenge, I would not have read. It struck me as much more Women's Literature than I would normally enjoy.

A Thousand Acres is a retelling of William Shakespeare's King Lear. In Iowa of the 1970s, Larry Cook decides to split his farm, all 1000 acres, among his three daughters. The youngest daughter, Caroline, is not interested so the farm is split among the remaining two, Rose and Ginny. But the family is soon torn apart by both new and old wounds.

Jane Smiley is a wonderful writer. She did a fantastic job of describing both the land and farm life. The book deserves its Pulitzer Prize. However, I did not find the book itself to my taste. I did like that in Smiley's retelling of King Lear the two older daughters are not villains but victims, a change that added nuance and ambiguity to the story. Be warned though, a monster lurks in the pages of the book; a monster that made reading many parts of the book an uncomfortable experience.


1 comment:

Andrea said...

I haven't read this though I know it is popular. I didn't realize it was a retelling (reimagining?) of King Lear. Interesting.