#1 in series

Some Luck

Book 1 in the series

3.61 based on 11961 ratings & 2066 reviews on Goodreads.com
Mantle

Publication date: 09.10.2014
ISBN: 9781447275626
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

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.

In the media

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
A masterpiece in the making . . . intimate, miraculous-the auspicious beginning of an American saga every bit as ambitious as Updike's magnum opus, anchored in the satisfactions and challenges of life on a farm, but expanding to various American cities and beyond . . . Frank is one of the most fascinating and complex characters in recent fiction. The way Smiley gets deep inside all the children's heads is a staggering literary feat in which we see human character being assembled in something that feels like real time. An abundant harvest.
USA Today
Some Luck is set in the rural farming community of the Midwestern America state of Iowa, the world previously evoked by Jane Smiley so successfully in her 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit A Thousand Acres. It is, likewise, a family epic. The first in a planned trilogy, it progresses in a year per chapter through the life of Walter Langdon who returns home after serving in the First World War to establish his own farm and wed the blonde beauty Rosanna Vogel . . . Though Iowa is remote, Smiley's narrative brings the family glancingly up against world events. The drought and economic hardship of the Great Depression conjured so harshly by John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath are, indeed, similarly harsh for the Langdons, although her warm empathy is very different from Steinback's passionate depiction of the plight of the poor. And as the children venture further afield, it is into the world of the atomic bomb and panic over the Russian Red Menace. But like the first purchase of a car or tractor and the arrival of electricity, the drought and Senator Joseph McCarthy act as signifiers of the passage of time where what really matters - and perhaps this is what really matters in life - is Rosanna and Walter rolling towards the centre of their saggy bed and still finding physical comfort in each other. Smiley writes of the unexpected tendernesses and unacknowledged disappointments of ordinary lives. The big themes in 20th century American history are threads in her text but it is the children Timmy and Debbie hiding fresh eggs in the sofa for Easter that is heart of this family story. The book often has the air of WH Auden's poem Musée des Beaux Arts where the disaster seems barely registered and the ship sails on . . . Fans of big-cast family sagas with love and death and the world at large impinging only lightly - but tellingly - on events will love Some Luck. It is an easy and engrossing read with the cornfields, the snowstorms and the technological developments of the 20th century vividly evoked.
Independent