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A Thousand Acres | [Jane Smiley]

A Thousand Acres

Three daughters and their husbands are pulled into a tangle of love, jealousy, and fear when their father, Larry Cook, grows too old to manage the family's fertile thousand-acre farm. As each couple struggles with their own tragedies and challenges, they know their father is judging them in light of the weighty inheritance that hovers within their reach.
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Jane Smiley's spellbinding novel also headed best-seller lists for many months. A Thousand Acres is the powerful, mythic story of an American farm family and the land that nourishes and consumes its members.

Three daughters and their husbands are pulled into a tangle of love, jealousy, and fear when their father, Larry Cook, grows too old to manage the family's fertile thousand-acre farm. As each couple struggles with their own tragedies and challenges, they know their father is judging them in light of the weighty inheritance that hovers within their reach.

The Cook family, and the farm community around them, are part of a mosaic that is as enduring as the fences and fields of the broad midwestern landscape. But this endurance exacts an immense price from them in return.

You will find that this nationally-acclaimed, breathtaking story, in a stirring narration by C. J. Critt, is an unforgettable listening experience.

©1991 Jane Smiley; (P)1996 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize winner, Fiction, 1992
  • National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 1991


"[A] magnificent, haunting family drama, an American retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear set on a contemporary Iowa farm....a favorite choice of reading groups everywhere (it would be a natural for Oprah)." (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (140 )
5 star
 (32)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (41)
2 star
 (13)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
3.6 (97 )
5 star
 (27)
4 star
 (27)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (6)
Story
3.7 (93 )
5 star
 (26)
4 star
 (31)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    C. Carlson 08-07-08
    C. Carlson 08-07-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    443
    11
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    "good book bad reader"

    I stopped listening and will buy this book to read. The narrator was awful--she read as if the book were as simple as the characters are "supposed" to be--as if she did not have a clue about what is really inside the book she was reading. This recording is a reminder to me of how I can sometimes take the important contributions of good readers for granted!

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Danehy deHart 10-25-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    104
    ratings
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    188
    20
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    12
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Oh Thou art so depressing..."

    I can see why this was a award winner, it's all the patho's of human relationships. I read it for a book group and I didn't finish it, I just quit caring. I didn't like any of the characters and they were living lives that I wouldn't wish to share for any amount of time. I didn't like Shakespeare's version any better, for what it's worth.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn Bunker Hill, WV, United States 07-08-15
    Marilyn Bunker Hill, WV, United States 07-08-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lots of Emotions"

    A downward spiral of a story that you have to keep listening to because you really want to know if the characters redeem themselves. Very well written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hollye D 07-08-15
    Hollye D 07-08-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful prose. Terrible narration."
    If you could sum up A Thousand Acres in three words, what would they be?

    It was a beautifully written story, but the narrator almost ruins it. She seems to have no connection to the words she's reading, and reads the entire book in the same sing-song voice as though she's reading to a classroom full of children. It drove me crazy. I want to read the book myself so I can actually appreciate the story and writing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 05-07-15
    Robin 05-07-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Glad I came back to this!"

    This was a hard book to get into, but then I couldn't put it down after I did. The story was very riveting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Orth 04-03-15
    Doug Orth 04-03-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thin characters. Nonsensical behaviors."

    Don't waste your time. Unless you hate men and want to continue to feed those urges. Unimaginative writing style that imposes and detracts from the already weak story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carey 04-01-15
    Carey 04-01-15 Member Since 2012

    I love books! "There is very little difference between someone who cannot read and someone who will not read." ~Jim Rohn

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "Breathtaking in a bad way!"
    Would you try another book from Jane Smiley and/or C. J. Critt?

    I'm not sure. It would really depend on the content.


    What could Jane Smiley have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I would have enjoyed the book a great deal if there had been even ONE character that had a backbone. I have no tolerance for a family that worships their own childhood molester for material gain. It disgusted me. I kept waiting clear to the end of the book for Smiley to identify a hero/heroine, someone that would do the right thing by standing up to evil. Never happened. I find it sick and illogical that people would walk around acting like these egregious acts never happened, keeping their dirty, destructive secrets.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disgust.


    Any additional comments?

    What constitutes Pulitzer Prize selection criteria? I have read a great deal of amazing, brilliantly written books that never won this distinction. A Thousand Acres having received this award is perplexing at best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Te.Love Catonsville, MD 03-18-15
    Te.Love Catonsville, MD 03-18-15 Member Since 2013

    TEL

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    83
    30
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    Story
    "Took a minute to catch my interest"

    Although it started out slow, overall, a good book, and the narrator made it even better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany United States 08-14-12
    Tiffany United States 08-14-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    0
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    Story
    "A bit slow at times"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I listen to books on my way to and from work . This time is usually well spent listening to various books. This book was chosen by my book club and while I enjoyed the book for the most part; it was at times difficult to listen to due to the happenings in the story or the reader's slow souther dialect.


    What about C. J. Critt’s performance did you like?

    The voices were well done, but at times the southern drawl was painfully slow. I would listen in double time to get through it.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan 08-07-14
    Joan 08-07-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
    ratings
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    62
    20
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    1
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    Story
    "Soporific"

    If you need to fall asleep, listen to this. The idea of an updated version of Kind Lear is a good one as this still happens in modern day society, but this version just didn't do it for me...

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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