Some Luck, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley comes the first installment in a landmark trilogy spanning the last hundred years. "Intimate ...Miraculous ...Staggering ...A masterpiece in the making." - USA Today Life can change in an instant, and as those changes amass over the course of one hundred years, something extraordinary happens - history is made.

In this masterful novel, Jane Smiley explores the triumphs and tragedies of one family, while casting a panoramic eye on the first half of the twentieth century, a time of monumental change. Some Luck opens on the humble, heavily indebted Langdon family farm in 1920.

We meet Rosanna and Walter, their curious, brilliant newborn Frank.

Soon the family grows to five children, all wildly different yet remarkable, with such potential to mark history in their own ways.

Yet as time passes, as it must, some thrive as others fall victim to flaws and fate.

Who will persevere? Who will simply, sadly, be forgotten? With shared joys and hushed secrets, through times of economic and political volatility, Some Luck examines the nature of family, character, and how we are all changed by circumstances unforeseen. National Book Award Nominee 2014 A Best Book of the Year 2014: The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Seattle Times, St.

Louis Post-Dispatch, BookPage


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781447275602



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I'm in two minds about this one; I really enjoyed <i>A Thousand Acres</i> by Jane Smiley, and I do love reading novels that begin with family trees so that I can gradually put characters to the names - but the story was nearly as flat as Iowa itself! Walter and Rosanna get married, live on a farm, have children, then more children, while the years are marked by freezing winters and stifling summers, punctuated by drolly announced deaths (my favourite is 'Well, [x] was dead by Monday morning'). Then the children start growing up and having grandchildren. The narrative stretches from the 1920s to the 1950s, and I swear I aged with every passing month. I did grow to know and like the many characters, from proud matriarch Rosanna to golden boy Frank and bookish Henry, but the only major event is World War Two, and even that felt like a potted history from an American war movie. A grudging four stars, because Jane Smiley has a beautiful way with words, but I think I'll pass on part two.

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