Customer Reviews for

A Thousand Acres

Average Rating 3.5
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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 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.

    1 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 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 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 October 19, 2003

    ASTOUNDING!!

    This book should ring bells in the psyches of any woman whose father 'needed' to disrespect women as a matter of course, as an incentive for getting up in the morning. Such subtle (and not so subtle) truths have seldom been told with such a talent for writing the English language. Surely Jane Smiley is one of America's very best fiction writers. I enjoyed this book thoroughly from first word to last.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2003

    A deep look into the American woman

    I read this book over one summer for a school project. It took forever to read, but I was so involved with the characters I didn't want it to end. This novel takes a look deep into the mind of a woman whose quaint farm life is torn apart by a family secret. It is the classic American dream in reverse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2002

    A piece of art in writing

    This book was marvelous. I just finished reading King Lear in my college Shakespeare class, and my professor casually mentioned this book in comparison. So, for summer reading, I picked up Smiley's book. She has taken Shakespeare's plot and characters and given them a wonderful new twist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it gave me a new appreciation for King Lear. I loved Smiley's easygoing writing style, and I am very pleased with her modern retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2000

    The Best Book I've Read

    Besides being a little slow to start, this book kept me really interested. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone, but definately over the age of 13.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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