Girish Mahajan (Editor)

A Thousand Acres

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
7.6/101 Votes Alchetron
1 Ratings
Rate This

Rate This

Country  United States
Publisher  Alfred A. Knopf
Pages  367
Author  Jane Smiley
Genre  Domestic realism
3.8/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Publication date  October 23, 1991
Originally published  23 October 1991
Page count  367
A Thousand Acres t0gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcTfEtoF17GYwvEM
Media type  Print (hardback & paperback)
Characters  Ginny Cook Smith, Rose Cook Lewis, Jess Clark
Awards  Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Ambassador Book Award for Fiction
Similar  Jane Smiley books, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners, Novels

A thousand acres by jane smiley

A Thousand Acres is a 1991 novel by American author Jane Smiley. It won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1991 and was adapted to a 1997 film of the same name.


The novel is a modernized retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear and is set on a thousand-acre (four hundred hectares) farm in Iowa that is owned by a family of a father and his three daughters. It is told through the point of view of the oldest daughter, Ginny.

Plot summary

Larry Cook is an aging farmer who decides to incorporate his farm, handing complete and joint ownership to his three daughters, Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. When the youngest daughter objects, she is removed from the agreement. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions, as the story eventually reveals the long-term sexual abuse of the two eldest daughters that was committed by their father.

The plot also focuses on Ginny's troubled marriage, her difficulties in bearing a child and her relationship with her family.

Similarities to King Lear

There are many similarities between King Lear and A Thousand Acres, including both plot details and character development. For example, some of the names of the main characters in the novel are reminiscent of their Shakespearean counterparts. Larry is Lear, Ginny is Goneril, Rose is Regan, and Caroline is Cordelia. The role of the Cooks' neighbors, Harold Clark and his sons Loren and Jess, also rework the importance of Gloucester, Edgar and Edmund in King Lear.

The novel maintains major themes present in Lear, namely: gender roles, appearances vs. reality, generational conflict, hierarchical structures (the Great chain of being), madness, and the powerful force of nature.

Correspondences between the characters in the novel and in the play

  • Larry Cook = King Lear
  • Ginny Cook Smith = Goneril
  • Rose Cook Lewis = Regan
  • Caroline Cook Rasmussen = Cordelia
  • Frank Rasmussen = King of France
  • Ty Smith = Duke of Albany
  • Pete Lewis = Duke of Cornwall
  • Jess Clark = Edmund
  • Harold Clark = Earl of Gloucester
  • Loren Clark = Edgar
  • Marv Carson (The Fool)
  • References

    A Thousand Acres Wikipedia

    Similar Topics
    A Thousand Acres (film)
    Black Girl (1972 film)
    Marcelo Gil Fernando