Customer Reviews for

A Thousand Acres

Average Rating 3.5
( 50 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 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

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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 ...
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.

posted by 8267336 on May 17, 2011

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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 July 25, 2002

    Shakespeare in Iowa

    Smiley's reworking of King Lear on a farm in Iowa is very good. All her characters have a dark ambivalence about them. Farming on the American Plains and Shakespeare at first would seem to be strange bedfellows, but Jane Smiley pulls it off well. Definitely recommended to a wide audience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2001

    Two Thumbs Up

    A THOUSAND ACRES is a novel about a family torn by anger, dark secrets, and avarice. The setting is in Iowa--a setting alien to me, and I think that's why I enjoyed this novel so much. Smiley paints a picture of rural farm life that is vivid and engaging. She introduced me to a way of life and convinced me that that way of life has its charms--but also introduced me to a family that is haunted with the burdens of the farm and the disgusting delinquencies of some of its members. A THOUSAND ACRES may not be as action-packed as modern suspense novels, but it tells a tale that is just as chilling. I recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2000

    A must read for any book lover!

    If you are tired of reading book after book, all predictable with the same plot, this is the book for you. But beware.... it is not a happily-ever-after kind of story. It's real world, filled with twists and turns that will make you give up even trying to guess what's going to occur next! The author, Jane Smiley, uses vivid imagery, recreating life in a small midwest farming community to a tee. But it is anything but boring! A must read alone for it's excellent wording, well developed characters, and realistic emotions. It's unique plot is just a bonus!

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