Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Some Luck by Jane Smiley

I've read a couple of Jane Smiley's books (A Thousand Acres, Moo) and while I enjoyed them, and she's stayed on my radar, I haven't sought out others of hers. But this concept really intrigued me. Called The Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga, she's got three books coming out over the course of one full year (book #2, Early Warning, comes out in May), and they cover one farm family in Iowa over 100 years. Each book covers 33 years, starting in 1920 with the young couple Walter and Rosanna. It then follows their children, who grow up, marry, and have their own children by the end of the book.

I really got to love this family. I didn't realize it for a while as the story is told in a simple, straightforward, unromantic way (perfectly suited to the Iowa farming community) but they really got to grow on me, to the point where it was hard for me to read the 1930s. I was so worried about them, and bad things do happen that hurt me. But overall they come through. They have a core strength that allows them to overcome even the worst luck that comes in life. In that regard, it captures the atmosphere of both the region and the agricultural lifestyle.

When the book ended, I wanted to keep reading. It does have a conclusion and you could read just the one book without the others, but I am so eager for the next book. I think I will put myself on the waiting list for it at the library, now. It's amazing how masterfully it is written, considering how spare the style is, but Ms. Smiley is such a great writer, the book reads effortlessly. A real treat of precision and heart, Some Luck is a beautiful and touching novel of Americana.

I checked this book out of the library.

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