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Monday, January 12, 2015

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

I have very much enjoyed reading Jane Smiley over the years, starting with A Thousand Acres and growing from there.  And it is not just because she has a tendency to set every other book in the beautiful, complicated, farming state of Iowa.  She is a master storyteller, and that is something I very much like about fiction.

This story is set in Denby, Iowa.  Each chapter covers a year in time, and spans 30 years of the Langdon family's life.   It starts after WWI, in 1920.  The Depression came early to farm families, and the Langdon's are no exception.  The book contains a family tree so that if you can't quite keep everyone straight over the course of the story, which swings from one family member to the next as time goes on, you have something to fall back on.  What I love most about the book, beyond the sustainability of the characters over the course of the story, is that there is a backdrop that reflects what is happening in rural America over the course of the beginning of the move from a rural life for the majority of Americans to an urban one.

The good news is that "Some Luck" is the first in a trilogy to be called "The Last Hundred Years." Smiley's  intention is to cover 100 years of Langdon family life in 100 chapters, starting with the 34 contained in Book One. The author's gift of storytelling keeps the reader interested in what happens to all the characters over time.

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