A Thousand Acres

  • by Jane Smiley
  • Narrated by C. J. Critt
  • 14 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Jane Smiley's spellbinding novel also headed best-seller lists for many months. A Thousand Acres is the powerful, mythic story of an American farm family and the land that nourishes and consumes its members.Three daughters and their husbands are pulled into a tangle of love, jealousy, and fear when their father, Larry Cook, grows too old to manage the family's fertile thousand-acre farm. As each couple struggles with their own tragedies and challenges, they know their father is judging them in light of the weighty inheritance that hovers within their reach.The Cook family, and the farm community around them, are part of a mosaic that is as enduring as the fences and fields of the broad midwestern landscape. But this endurance exacts an immense price from them in return. You will find that this nationally-acclaimed, breathtaking story, in a stirring narration by C. J. Critt, is an unforgettable listening experience.

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What the Critics Say



Pulitzer Prize winner, Fiction, 1992
National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 1991

"[A] magnificent, haunting family drama, an American retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear set on a contemporary Iowa farm....a favorite choice of reading groups everywhere (it would be a natural for Oprah)." (Entertainment Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

good book bad reader

I stopped listening and will buy this book to read. The narrator was awful--she read as if the book were as simple as the characters are "supposed" to be--as if she did not have a clue about what is really inside the book she was reading. This recording is a reminder to me of how I can sometimes take the important contributions of good readers for granted!
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- C. Carlson

King Lear set on an Iowa farm.

I picked up this book as part of a challenge I am participating in this year. I had not heard anything about it previously. I am grateful for the challenge because this is a wonderful book. Many of the reviewers complained about the drama, some admitting that they do not enjoy these type of family dramas. I disagree. Life is messy and difficult. Families treat each other with cruelty. People live behind facades so their neighbors will not see the things that are dirty, nasty and wrong. I love books that enfold slowly, building the characters quietly, exposing the secrets quietly. I love books that allow the characters to be flawed and real -- and allow the reader to like those characters even when they go to the worst places of their minds. This book gave me all of that.

I was slightly concerned about the King Lear framework -- because an author taking on Shakespeare to me is much like a pop singer taking on The Beatles. I rarely like the result. However Ms Smiley allowed her story to be quiet and nuanced. If the reader had never heard of King Lear or knew nothing about it they could still enjoy this book. And, if the reader has high expectations they can also enjoy the book.

C J Critt, though, was not a perfect choice for a narrator. At times she sounded like she was reading to children. And, at times she sounded like she was reading with a slight southern accent. She didn't have the flat tones of the midwest. For example, she didn't add the "r" to the word "wash" ("warsh"). My family are Iowans and I looked forward to those sounds. A better reader might have lifted the book from 4 stars to 5.
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- Kelly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-23-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books