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


Some Luck is the first novel in the dazzling Last Hundred Years trilogy from the winner of the Pulitzer Prize Jane Smiley; a literary adventure that will spans 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, wilful 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.


  • 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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