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Customer Reviews for

A Thousand Acres

Average Rating 3.5
( 53 )
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(16)

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(15)

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(7)

2 Star

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(8)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

An American Tragedy

Unlike some other customer reviewers, I really liked this book. No, it's not an easy read, and it's not a "feel good story." It is literature. The cadence of Smiley's prose pulls the reader into the smothering world of the rural farmer, and the events that unfold ar...
Unlike some other customer reviewers, I really liked this book. No, it's not an easy read, and it's not a "feel good story." It is literature. The cadence of Smiley's prose pulls the reader into the smothering world of the rural farmer, and the events that unfold are shocking. The parallels to Lear aee ambitious and effective. Highly recommend.

posted by 18309121 on May 11, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

What was the point?

I do agree that the author did a nice job with the setting and characters, and I was certainly drawn in to the plot. There is no doubt it was well written however, I was left asking why it was written? In the end, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to take away from thi...
I do agree that the author did a nice job with the setting and characters, and I was certainly drawn in to the plot. There is no doubt it was well written however, I was left asking why it was written? In the end, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to take away from this book. It was one of the most dissapointing books I've ever read (and I have read a lot). I'm shocked people described it as the best book they've ever read. It really goes to show you how different people can be. I would ask yourself why you read a book. If the answer is to be entertained, to learn something, or to find hope, I would not reccomend this book. I was left with a giant hole in my heart for every single character in this book. I choose not to believe that life is this hopeless.

posted by 1741816 on August 11, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2011

    Critique of A Thousand Acres...Not as good as expected

    A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a recipient of the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's play King Lear set on an Iowa farm during the 1980s. Narrated from the point of view of one of three daughters of the farm owner, she exposes the reader to the dark and unflattering reality of farm life in rural America. The father is cruel and abusive towards his daughters, setting the depressing and dark mood of the novel. As the father gets older, he becomes aware that maintaining the farm is more difficult than before. He therefore decides to divide the ownership of the family's one thousand-acre farm among his three daughters, leading to a series of events that unravel the family's darkest secrets. A Thousand Acres turned out to be a disappointing read considering all the awards and titles it has earned. Overall, Jane Smiley deserves credit for attempting to create a modern version of the Shakespeare play King Lear. However, though Smiley's concept was brilliant, the content of the novel does not meet the brilliance of her idea of creating a King Lear on an Iowan farm in the 1980s. From the beginning, the novel lacks action and has excess detail and descriptions used to build up the complex characters, allowing the storyline to drag along. The novel is enough to spoil the reader's mood and it may be disturbing and inappropriate for younger readers. Everything from paternal abuse, sexual abuse, incest, death, rape, and miscarriages happen on the thousand-acre farm. Certainly, A Thousand Acres is not a lighthearted, easy-read novel, and its dark themes and events listed previously may appeal to only select readers.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2009

    What was the point?

    I do agree that the author did a nice job with the setting and characters, and I was certainly drawn in to the plot. There is no doubt it was well written however, I was left asking why it was written? In the end, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to take away from this book. It was one of the most dissapointing books I've ever read (and I have read a lot). I'm shocked people described it as the best book they've ever read. It really goes to show you how different people can be. I would ask yourself why you read a book. If the answer is to be entertained, to learn something, or to find hope, I would not reccomend this book. I was left with a giant hole in my heart for every single character in this book. I choose not to believe that life is this hopeless.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2007

    Why did this book win the pultizer? Confused.

    I chose to read this book because it was a pultizer prize winner. I am almost to the half way point of the book and I'm completely sick of reading it. I'm glad I did not have to read this book for a school assignment. After reading the first few chapters I continued to read thinking to myself that the story is going to get better, but it has not. In my opinion, if a reader has not reached the juicy meaty part after arriving halfway through the book, the book is not worth reading any further.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2006

    one of the most boring books i have read

    i studies this book as a comparitive literary study with king lear in college, and i have to say that it is probably one of the most dull and badly written books i have read. yes it provides a different perspective, but was king lear really written from the male perspective in the first place? it is a play after all, not a novel! smiley didn't provide much action, i felt like most of the book was based on overly emphasising themes that she must have picked up on when she studied king lear. overall, not a very good book. adaptations rarely are, if it isn't broke, don't fix it!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2005

    Another pulitzer given to an unworthy recepient

    This book was good, but it lacked emotionality. It could have been a tear jerker, but something was missing. This book was NOT worthy of a Pulitzer!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    An American Tragedy

    Unlike some other customer reviewers, I really liked this book. No, it's not an easy read, and it's not a "feel good story." It is literature. The cadence of Smiley's prose pulls the reader into the smothering world of the rural farmer, and the events that unfold are shocking. The parallels to Lear aee ambitious and effective. Highly recommend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Pass over this one.

    Life is too short for this read. I tried to give this book a chance as it was recommended by a friend. i did like the first half of the book where life on the farm was slowed down and the characters were developed so nicely. It was difficult to stay with the book after the father's meltdown. It did anger me that the alleged violation of the main character was not devastating to her, that she doubted it had happened at all and went on with her routine. I guess that was the point. But her continued pursuit of her love interest reminded me of a school girl obsession and was tiresome. I kept waiting for something to happen and it didnt. Again i guess thats the point. When she started making the jarred sausages this book became a mad fantasy and i could not connect to it anymore. I get in the end she was just like her father but really was that all? I wished i had spent a few days on something i would want to pass on to a friend. This was no a pass on. This was a pass over.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2005

    Jane tut tut tut

    This novel was overly written and that she seemed to try to hard when writing this, it really annoyed me that she had to explain every detail about every thing, i took her a whole chapter to explain where they live. so i felt that this was a tediously long novel. i also think that Smiley needs to come up with her own ideas because it really annoys me when authors cant come with their own plot!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2007

    liked it??? NO

    i thought it was very boring highly NOT recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2014

    Fascinating journey

    This book tells the fascinating journey of one seemingly boring (on the outside) farmwife's life in Iowa. It tells the story of a family and all the large and small betrayals they inflict on each other. This story kept me rapt. Lots of twists and turns. Loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2011

    Easily the worest book I have ever read

    "A Thousand Acres" is a pulizter prize winner. Guessing they just give that out to anyone these days. The story manages to become boring, dragged out, and gross all at the same time. you start by being introduced the characters and the main conflict over dividing the farm, and than well... thats all that happens for the rest of the book. The characters are very unappling. The only one who hold any slight interest would be Jess Clark, and the narator and main character, Ginny, can be extremely annoying by never advancing the plot and simply complaining about feminist ideals. Throw in a few gross depictions of child molestation half-way through the book for no apparent reason and you get "A Thousand Acres". So if you into that kind of thing, buy the book. If you're one of the normal people on planet Earth, avoid it. If you get a school assignment for it, I am truely sorry.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    A well-written novel indeed.

    A Thousand Acres is an amazing novel, though not necessarily heart-warming or uplifting. Jane Smiley says a lot about human nature in this book, and even without critically analyzing the text, readers should feel the potency of her points. It's a great "reimagining" of King Lear; the story line is very engrossing and doesn't sound like a King Lear ripoff at all, but comparing the two stories side-by-side reveals a lot about both works and is something that readers should definitely do. The characters are well developed, the plot dramatic, and the writing style elegant. Thankfully, Smiley does not fall into the pitfall of trying to capture the Midwestern accent with convoluted writing involving confusing grammar and scattered apostrophes. This book provides a lot to think about and is enjoyable to read many times over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    Loved it

    I thought this book was extremely well-written and engaging. It's a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    a good piece of literature!

    I was merely curious when I picked this book up from my sisters shelf and had decided to 'idly' leaf through it. I soon found myself reading in rapture. I think this book lends a different perspective as to how we live in our hearts, with our families living under one roof and eventually leaving the place we had grown up in, our relationships with our parents and siblings, how we interact with our neighbors and the community and general. It makes us realize what we are willing to cover about ourselves, the truths about us and our family, what we could also call our 'skeletons in our closets'. It also makes us think if we want to run away from that life, that experience or if we want to keep a blind eye to it, deny it ever happened pretend the pain, the confusion had never existed or if we face that evil and if we decide to face it. And if we do, do we have the courage to face it or will we crumble? Try to read this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    One of the best books I have ever read

    Maybe you have to get some living under your belt to appreciate this marvelous novel. It is so realistic, so emotionally dramatic [that's where the action is, INSIDE the people], so exceedingly accurate in the way the characters intereact and are described. It is so TRUE. Smiley did a great job and this work seems to sum up all parts of the U.S. in the late 20th century, even though it is set in the midwest. It gets to the core of what life is about--bonds, hard work, heartbreak, and rebirth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2005

    King Lear in the American Heartland

    I played Edmund in my college's production of 'King Lear' during my senior year. When you spend eight weeks rehearsing a play, it sticks with you. When I picked up 'A Thousand Acres,' it had been recommended to me by a friend who didn't know King Lear from Norman Lear -- but as soon as I realized what Jane Smiley had done by recasting Shakespeare's tragedy in the Great Plains, I was riveted. This isn't just an update of the story, but a retelling and repurposing. In Shakespeare's play, Goneril and Regan are heartless and evil. Smiley's novel is written from Ginny's point of view, and she and her sister Rose are given sympathetic motivations, proving that there are indeed two sides to every story. 'A Thousand Acres' changed the way I see 'King Lear' forever ...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2005

    Great writing, but missing some much needed clairification

    First, I haven't read King Lear, so I have no idea how it fares on that point. A Thousand Acres could have been a much more satisfying story if some of the arguments had had some type of resolution - good or bad. Some scenes were grandly built up and then just abandonded. Maybe that was the point, but if so, it really turned me off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2004

    An amazing read. Unforgettable.

    I saw the film first. Then I read the book. I loved the film and I thought the book was one of the best I've ever read and probably ever will. I enjoyed it so much. I connected with the farm living and Southern feel. I loved reading about the conflicts and the family problems. I related to all of this. Smiley wrote an amazing book that should be shared with everyone. This book deserved all the critical praise it got. I'm glad I got to experience it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2004

    Lovely, painful novel

    A patchwork Lear and his cursed daughters come to life again in this stunning modernization of Shakespeare's play. A story of secrets and skeletons that grips the reader and does not let go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2004

    Overrated drivel

    I was told to read this book as the basis for some school assignments. While this may have been a detraction in and of itself, I still approached it with an open mind. As the story trudged on, however, I began to lose more and more interest. I quickly discovered that the characters, while realistically rendered, are either completely spineless and constantly whining, or blatantly antagonistic and aggravating. When one has an absolute lack of respect for the narrator, it makes a book difficult to pay attention to. Over half the book consists of the main character bowing down to the whims of her domineering father and complaining about it, over and over again. By the time I was 150 pages through this book I was simply praying that they would die and get it over with.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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