A Thousand Acres

Jane Smiley

Larry Cook’s farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. Proud and possessive, his sudden decision to retire and hand over the farm to his three daughters, is disarmingly uncharacteristic.

Ginny and Rose, the two eldest, are startled yet eager to accept, but Caroline, the youngest daughter, has misgivings. Immediately, her father cuts her out.

In ‘A Thousand Acres’, Jane Smiley transposes the ‘King Lear’ story to the modern day, and in so doing at once illuminates Shakespeare’s original and subtly transforms it. This astonishing novel won both of America’s highest literary awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award.

Reviews of A Thousand Acres

  • ‘“A Thousand Acres” is a strong, gnarled shocker of a novel…superb. Its success is down to Smiley’s ambitious gusto, her intuitive handling of the relationship between character and landscape, and her willingness to haul genuine moral freight across the panorama she has so expertly painted.’ Sunday Times

    ‘Epic fiction of the very highest order, naturalistic, penetrating and wholly absorbing.’ Literary Review

    ‘Superlative, extraordinary, amazing. “A Thousand Acres” is a great American tragedy about the failure of a family’s land and the failure of its love. There may have been better novels than “A Thousand Acres”, but I fear I didn’t read them – a haunting inquisition into the decline and fall of a family.’ Independent

    ‘A studied, ingenious variation on the brutal clashing of sexes and generations in “King Lear”. Its style is relaxed, conversational, unhurried; the novel flows gently onwards like a broad river. In its solidity and poise, “A Thousand Acres” is a book that will outlast this year’s rainy season.’ Vogue

    ‘Powerful, poignant, intimate and involving.’ New York Times