May re:commendation: A Thousand Acres

200531-redesign_studio-recommendations-a_thousand_acres

In an exciting first, this month we want to recommend a book. You might have heard of it already because it’s definitely not a new book, but we’d still like to add our personal praise to whatever you already know.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

What is it? A 1992 Pulitzer winner, it retells the story of King Lear, placing his quarreling family in rural Iowa. Basically, it’s Shakespeare among Iowan farmers, with all the passions, feuds and dark psychological insights. It also has a powerful ecological undertone, which is hard to ignore.

Why we love it? Smiley takes the spotlight away from the traditional protagonists of King Lear and instead focuses on the original villains who lose their villainy in the process (there is a villain, just not who Shakespeare envisioned). The narrator is the oldest daughter and her relationship with her younger sister (they’re named appropriately Ginny and Rose) creates the core of the story. The characters are drawn with insight and compassion and the reinterpretation of the classic feels very timely. A great read for any fan of a retelling (which we certainly are).

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