A Thousand Acres
Jane Smiley, 1991
We've had so many recent send-ups of the classics—Ahab's Wife, Bridget Jones's Diary, On Beauty, Mr. Timothy, and, of course, Wicked—that the novelty has worn off, if not worn thin. But A Thousand Acres was seminal, one of the first and still (along with On Beauty) the most dazzling.
A bare-bones outline is as follows: affluent farmer, Larry Cook (Lear), lives surrounded by his daughters and their husbands. All's well that ends well...until Larry decides to turn his farm over to his three daughters. Once deprived of power and responsibility, however, Larry's mental state deteriorates—he lashes out at his daughters, dragging them into court to regain the property. Ultimately, the story is Ginny's, as she struggles to find herself, to move out from under her father's and husband's shadow, and to achieve a life of her own.
The modern parallels with Shakespeare are finely wrought. Though hardly necessary, you might consider approaching Acres with some knowledge of the original. So, for example, you could ...
Or you could just read this magnificent work on its own.
Finally, check out the 1997 A Thousand Acres film version with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jason Robards, and Colin Firth—after you've read the book, of course.
See our Reading Guide for A Thousand Acres.
Site by BOOM
LitLovers © 2016