Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres
A Thousand Acres
Author: Jane Smiley
A thousand acres, a piece of land of almost mythic proportions. Upon this fertile, nourishing earth, Jane Smiley has set her rich, breathtakingly dramatic novel of an American family whose wealth cannot stay the hand of tragedy. It is the intense, compelling story of a father and his daughters, of sisters, of wives and husbands, and of the human...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780449907481
ISBN-10: 0449907481
Publication Date: 8/18/1992
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.

3.6 stars, based on 284 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
A well written book. It gives a dark picture of human nature. It portrays mankind as self-centered, manipulative, and vengeful. The worldview of this book would definitely be that men and women are basically sinful. Not a book for those looking for a "feel good" piece of literature.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
My favorite book of all time. Just remember that it is a story of incest and how two sisters deal with it.
Leigh avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 378 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
The parallels to King Lear in this novel are so well-crafted and so subtly slipped in that the reader would not realize it unless it was pointed out. Smiley does a brilliant job of constructing believable characters - some fragile, others strong, all of them fully rounded. The way she describes the farmland is unmatched. Definitely recommended.
amgra2 avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Good story overall but I had a hard time getting through the first half. It was a little slow to me.
blacktoastintolerate avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
In spite of how dark and painful as this book was, I would have to say that I liked it. Smiley certainly did a great job of making me not want to put it down and I genuinely felt for the characters. The matter-of-fact way that unimaginable tragedy was woven in to the story and accepted by a hardened town of farmers seems like a testament to human endurance.
But what I was left with from this story is how each of our individual lives are shaped by our reactions more than our actions. Rose and Ginny at first seemed like similar farmer's wives, but when asked specific questions about their childhood (and general life experiences) you would think they were from different planets. We are that complex and our experiences are that personalized.
This story reminds me to muster at least compassion for others, even those that you always thought you "knew", because what lies under the surface will never be exactly what you imagine.
I will add that there is a hint in this story that the entire experience is really just a farm chemical acid trip, and maybe I could even find comfort in this explanation. Thought provoking book.
Read All 89 Book Reviews of "A Thousand Acres"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

crytal avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 155 more book reviews
This book was simply too much 'could be real life' for me to enjoy it. I think that there was too much detail given about the scenery and charaters, so you were reading paragraph long descriptions for something that could have been summed up in a few words. I also felt that the ending was a let down.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 83 more book reviews
Engrossing storytelling, compelling.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 16 more book reviews
A great modern version of King Lear.
ajpc avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 22 more book reviews
This was a pleasant surprise. Liked the characters and would like to read more of Smiley's books.
rubuhroom avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 32 more book reviews
When I first started reading the first 40 or so pages of this book I kept asking myself "How did this book earn a Pulitzer?" There is much talk about farming so I wasn't that interested. The characters were slowly revealing themselves, then bam! My answer to why it was a National Best Seller and earned a Pulitzer was more than answered in those 371 pages. Page after page I never expected this story to evolve the way it did. This book reveals human nature in all it's beauty and ugliness.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 5 more book reviews
Really great story that kept me reading. The plot was nothing like I had imagined and I
couldn't put the book down needing to know how it was all going to end.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 2 more book reviews
Really enjoyed this Pultizer winner!
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 3 more book reviews
I always love to read the books over the movies, but I saw movie first. Very close to movie as I remebered, I enjoyed the book. Easy reading for those lazy days you want to escape and get caught up in a book.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 5 more book reviews
Good depiction of what happens to survivors of sexual abuse. Very real depiction of farm behavior and attitudes.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 12 more book reviews
This was a real page turner. Within the confines of the King Lear story, Jane Smiley manages to draw us into an absorbing story of an Iowa farm family. We get insight into what it's like to live off of and depend on the land, to function within a tight-knit community that watches every move you make, and what makes those farmers of Northern European descent tick. The need to stick to the Lear story line, though, leads to some false notes towards the end of the story. Overall, a fantastic novel that will stay with me forever.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 1439 more book reviews
This retelling of the Lear tragedy in mid-20th century America gets a lot of things right -- particularly the mindset of the American farmer during a period when family-based agriculture was struggling to survive. But some of the actions of the main character seem to spring from nowhere, and that makes it hard to buy into the reality Smiley is attempting to create.
reviewed A Thousand Acres on + 83 more book reviews
Smiley is such a wonderful writer, so inventive and so prefectly real. I loved this book.

Book Wiki

Common Title