Saturday, December 09, 2006

140. "A Thousand Acres" ~ Jane Smiley

When searching for information about this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, I read that it is a 1980s version of King Lear set in Iowa. That knowledge changed how I read the story, adding more texture than I would have noticed if I'd gone in blind.

King Lear - ahem, I mean Larry - offers to give his thousand-acre farm to his three daughters. While two fearfully submit, Ginny and Rose, his "favorite" daughter, Caroline, hesitates. This sets off Larry like a firework, who alternately snubs Caroline and spews hatred at Ginny and Rose.

Ginny begins to detach herself from feeling anything toward her family, and it's this slow yet shocking change that pushes the reader through the final third of this long novel.

"I heard this is sad," said the librarian when I picked it up. It is, but more in the way that a person's trust can be torn as easily as a few drops of water on tissue paper.

3.25 out of 5.0 King Alphonses.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I read A Thousand Acresin an undergrad class called "Philosophy in Literature." We read this and King Lear back to back. I thought the comparision between the two was interesting, although I cannot remember what philosophical issues in the book we discussed, other than than children are horrible. I might have my notes around somewhere.