Publishers Weekly In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Smiley returns to the Iowa of her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, but in a very different vein. The warring sisters and abusive father of that book have given way to the Langdons, a loving family whose members, like most people, are exceptional only in their human particularities. The story covers the 1920s through the early '50s, years during which the family farm survives the Depression and drought, and the five Langdon children grow up and have to decide whether to stay or leave. Smiley is particularly good at depicting the world from the viewpoint of young children-all five of the Langdons are distinct individuals from their earliest days. The standout is oldest son Frank, born stubborn and with an eye for opportunity, but as Smiley shifts her attention from one character to another, they all come to feel like real and relatable people. The saga of an Iowa farm family might not seem like an exciting premise, but Smiley makes it just that, conjuring a world-time, place, people-and an engaging story that makes readers eager to know what happens next. Smiley plans to extend the tale of the Langdon family well into the 21st century; she's off to a very strong start. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list *Starred Review* Smiley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres (1991), a novel about a farming family in Iowa. In her fourteenth novel, she returns to that fertile ground to tell the stories of the Langdons, a clan deeply in accord with the land, wherever their quests lead them. A seductive writer in perfect command of every element of language, Smiley sets a ruminative pace embodying the tempo of farm work, season to season. Beginning in 1920 and reaching 1953, this saga of the vicissitudes of luck and our futile efforts to control it is also a richly meteorological novel, exploring how the high and low pressures of the mind can determine a farm's bounty and losses just as droughts and blizzards do. While steadfast Walter worries, his smart, industrious wife, Rosanna, runs the household and cares for their children, beginning with courageous Frankie, followed by animal-lover Joey, romantic Lillian, scholarly Henry, and good Claire. As barbed in her wit as ever, Smiley is also munificently tender. The Langdons endure the Depression, Walter agonizes over giving up his trusty horses for a tractor, and Joe tries the new synthetic fertilizers. Then, as Frank serves in WWII and, covertly, the Cold War, the novel's velocity, intensity, and wonder redouble. Smiley's grand, assured, quietly heroic, and affecting novel is a supremely nuanced portrait of a family spanning three pivotal American decades. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a major print run and extensive national author tour ramping up publicity, ever-popular Smiley's tremendous new novel will be on the top of countless to-read lists.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.