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Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The first in a trilogy, a family saga following the Langdons over one hundred years, beginning in 1920. This volume goes through to 1953. They are a farming family of hardworking, stoical parents and five children. On the whole it is strong-willed Frank who dominates this volume but it is all told from their many perspectives. Detailed and covering the Great Depression, drought, World War II and such with a chapter a year, it’s been dubbed ‘The Great American Novel’. Fans of her A Thousand Acres will know the territory for this too is set in Iowa, only it’s very different in flavour being slower and yet leaving you wondering about the lives of those who survive this volume and so compelling you on to the next. That one will move through to the 1980s and Vietnam.

If you like Jane Smiley you might also like to read books by Paullina Simons, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. The first book in a trilogy that will span a century, this sensitive and beautifully observed novel begins in rural Iowa in 1920 with young Walter Langdon returned to his home soil after fighting in France, embarking on a farming career with his wife Rosanna. Each chapter covers a year in the family’s life, taking their story through the Depression, the Second World War, and up to the early 1950s. We follow Walter and Rosanna as their children are born, grow, and enter adulthood, each one becoming their own person, each having to find their own path, whether easily or with difficulty. With its episodic structure and its layers of detail built up from the minutiae of everyday life, this is a portrait of a family, universal on one level, highly individual on another, sharp and often unexpected in its depiction of the shifts of fortune.
~ Karen Howlett


Some Luck by Jane Smiley

The first novel in a dazzling new epic trilogy from the winner of the Pulitzer Prize; a literary adventure that will span a century in America. 1920. After his return from the battlefields in France, Walter Langdon and his wife Rosanna begin their life together on a remote farm in Iowa. As time passes, their little family will grow: from Frank, the handsome, willful first-born, to Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him; from Lillian, beloved by her mother, to Henry who craves only the world of his books; and Claire, the surprise baby, who earns a special place in her father's heart. As Walter and Rosanna struggle to keep their family through good years and hard years - to years more desperate than they ever could have imagined, the world around their little farm will turn, and life for their children will be unrecognizable from what came before. Some will fall in love, some will have families of their own, some will go to war and some will not survive. All will mark history in their own way. Tender, compelling and moving from the 1920s to the 1950s, told in multiple voices as rich as the Iowan soil, Some Luck is an astonishing feat of storytelling by a prize-winning author writing at the height of her powers.


'So here it is at last, the Great American Novel and, in retrospect, it seems obvious that the great Jane Smiley would be the one who wrote it. Some Luck is a Steinbeckian Little House on the Prairie: a rural tragedy, a domestic epic and an unassuming masterpiece. And, unlike most masterpieces, it's absorbing, witty, painful, pleasurable. You must read it.'

-Charlotte Mendelson, Booker/Orange Prize nominated author of Almost English and When We Were Bad

About the Author

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley was born in LA, grew up in St Louis and studied at Vassar and Iowa. She won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Award in 1992 for 'A Thousand Acres'.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st November 2014


Jane Smiley

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Mantle an imprint of Pan Macmillan


400 pages


Family Drama
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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