There are so many things you can say about this novel. But for me, it was a book about “what lies beneath”, not only in the characters but also in the land that Jane Smiley writes so passionately about. This book won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize and is said to be a modern version of King Lear. I would never have known that, never having read the play, but I’m sure the Bard himself would have loved this book.
It starts out as a story about a farming family – one that has been on its rich and arable thousand acres for four generations. The story is told by Ginny, the oldest daughter. She has two younger sisters, Rose and Caroline. Everything seems fairly normal until Larry Cook, the head of this “dynasty” decides to give up the farm to his daughters – with no real explanation. The youngest daughter, a lawyer who lives in the City, objects to this and is cut out of the deal. That’s when what lies beneath starts to bubble to the surface.
We know that Ginny cannot have children, and she learns that it may have to do with the water under the soil. Larry starts acting very strangely, so much so that he leaves his home on the farm and goes to live with another farmer. Rose, who is recovering from cancer, starts reminding Ginny of what they went through as children; Ginny’s suppressed memories flood back and suddenly her world starts to unravel. And as this happens, so does the farm, which has been the center of their world.
I would never have guessed how the novel ends, given its beginning. By half way through, I could hardly stop reading. The book was made into a movie in 1997 but read the book first – it is just brilliant.
You’re comments are welcome.