by Jane Smiley
This was my first book for the Random Reading challenge. A few days ago I made a list of all the titles in my TBR stack, and plugged it into random.org. The number that came up was 40- A Thousand Acres. I found it at a library sale once, picked it up because I enjoyed Moo. I was expecting A Thousand Acres to be different, but not that it would be boring. Without the wry humor that permeated Moo, there was not much to keep me interested in this book. The setting is a thousand-acre farm in Iowa, a farm carefully built up from swamp to success by generations of the Cook family. When the patriarch of the family retires, he suddenly leaves the farm to his three daughters, dividing up the land. Caroline, a lawyer in the city, doesn\’t want it. Rose is bitter and outspoken, Ginny (the narrator) more compliant but harboring her own hurt feelings. They all have issues with their father and his rigid schedule, coldness towards his family, scorn of outsiders. Another key figure is Jess, a draft-dodger who returns to the community after fourteen years\’ absence. He brings new ideas about how to do things. That contrast interested me- the new methods versus traditional, or the smaller farm that did just enough to get by and be content, compared to all the other farmers who competed to have the biggest, and most profitable farm. But I didn\’t care about any of the characters, so I was unable to follow them through the story, to find what disaster and tragedy was looming. I put it aside at about 120 pages.
It might have been my mood that spoiled the book, though. Just when my foot is almost better, I caught an icky headcold and now my head is all stuffy. Not very good for certain kinds of reading. So I might hold onto this one, to try again later.
Abandoned 405 pages, 1991