Monday, September 14, 2009

Book: "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley

A friend lent me A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I am grateful, for otherwise I would have missed this truly wonderful (and Pulitzer-winning) book.

It is a family saga, universal and relatable like all great stories should be. I loved the book and finished it in one day. I didn’t even realise until I read the notes at the end that it was actually a retelling of King Lear, and that left me even more impressed.

I had never been wholly satisfied by King Lear, and this version of the story is definitely much more satisfying. Yet it is great even if you have never read a line of Shakespeare: it is at the most basic a woman’s struggle to find herself. She does, though she loses everything she had along the way.

The book touched me because I could relate it to some of my own experiences. It is also to an extent a political book: it touches on how the system promotes suffering and oppression, including themes such as pollution and child abuse within its span. Through the story of one family – or, in fact, one person, as the entire book is through the point of view of one woman – it hints at deep evils that exist throughout the world.

Yet that farm of a thousand acres is the center of evil for Ginny, and it is only by escaping it that she can at last find herself.

In a way, the book reminded me of The Color Purple, though it is a meandering river where The Color Purple is an intense mountain waterfall.

I don’t want to give away any more of the story: read it.

Sorry for the irregular blogging lately. My laptop is fixed and working faster than ever, so I'll be posting more frequently now, I promise!

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