Takes Times To Develop But Is Really Worth The Effort
I loved Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres and had very high hopes that this family saga set in Iowa would be something along that line. Some Luck is a d..Show More »ifferent book. It takes patience. The beauty of this first entry in a planned trilogy is slow to evolve. I was almost half way through the listen before the characters had captured me. Before I really cared about any of them. I almost gave up-- but I am really glad I kept listening.
The writing was spare and at first almost one dimensional. Smiley had the story drop in on the family and witness slices of life sequentially as the years progressed. To me these paper doll characters of the first chapters grew into whole, living, breathing and complex people gradually with each year and each new chapter.
This isn't a story that spoon feeds the listener. It is instead a book that the reader needs to work at and ponder. Subtle connections appear in a web like fashion and these webs connect the seemingly disconnected events into an amazing whole. Random flashes of insight flare like tiny sparks. Not the fireworks of A Thousand Acres--but beautiful all the same.
This book is a meditation on family, farming, hard work, individuality and traditions. Keep in mind that luck comes in many forms--good and bad. It also takes time to see which is which as life plays out. I loved the story and look forward to book two whenever it appears. Recommended if you are willing to take the time and let the story unfold. A wonderful listen.
I really loved Some Luck, the first book in Smiley's planned sweeping family trilogy. I looked forward to this second installment and had high hopes...Show More » All I can say is that while listening I had an overwhelming feeling of weight and heaviness looming down on me. I had the image of myself wearing a huge oversized man's wool coat, stored too long in moth balls, standing in the August sun and heat on my brick patio. I couldn't move my arms, couldn't breathe, and needed to break free. So I did. I stopped listening and returned the book. Too much for me. I hope someone out there finds some pleasure in this book. I'd love to hear about that.
The whole trilogy gives a brilliant, incisive, sympathetic, unflinching, and amazingly complex picture of white middle class America from 1920 to 2020..Show More ». The characters are fully drawn and engaging. The personal lives and varied journeys of four generations of a family starting on an Iowa farm present a panoramic and developmental account of social, economic, political, and cultural history. The story ends just a little farther down the road than we are now, brilliantly detailing how we arrived at our current economic, political, and environmental peril. At the same time the exquisitely sensitive descriptions of life stages -- infancy, adolescence, marriage, work, and old age -- are deeply moving. This is trilogy makes me wish I was still a teacher. I would love to teach a full-year course on the history of the last 100 years using this as the main text with student reports on what she left out (mainly the experiences of people of color and working class, also a little of conventional "history" thrown in). I can't remember reading anything I thought was this great, at least not for a long time