Week #18: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley’s retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I’ve read and studied King Lear at least four or five times in various Shakespeare classes, but knowing the novel’s plot in advance far from spoiled the story, as proved <a href=”http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/08/spoilers-dont-spoil-anything/”>here</a>.
Transposed to 1970s Iowa, Smiley’s novel is narrated by wounded eldest sister, Ginny (Goneril). At the peak of his success, farmer Larry Cook offers his farm to his three daughters. Elder daughters Ginny and Rose live and work on the farm and see this offer as a reward for years of their hard work. Youngest Caroline, a successful out of town lawyer, refuses the gift setting in motion a chain of disastrous events for the extended Cook family.
Smiley’s treatment of women and female perspective lend the story a distinctly different flavor than Shakespeare. Score one for the lady writers.