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Some Luck

by Jane Smiley

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.


“A ravishing and defiantly old-fashioned novel set on the same Iowa soil Smiley tilled in her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres . . . . ”  Hamilton Cain, O, The Oprah Magazine 

“Sweeping . . . Smiley’s most commanding novel yet. She is a master storyteller—that rare ‘three-fer’: meticulous historian, intelligent humorist and seasoned literary novelist . . . ”  Meredith Maran, Los Angeles Times

“Fascinating—an impressive accounting of family life . . . Some Luck would qualify as Smiley’s magnum opus if this, her 14th novel, were a single work and not the first in her trilogy. ..Now, with Some Luck and a return to the heartland, the remarkable Smiley just got a little more remarkable.”  Barbara Liss, Houston Chronicle

“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 expand[ing] to various American cities and beyond . . . ”  Kevin Nance, USA Today

“Engaging, bold . . . Smiley delivers a straightforward, old-fashioned tale of rural family life in changing times, depicting isolated farm life with precision . . . It is especially satisfying to hear a powerful writer narrate men’s and women’s lives lovingly and with equal attention. Subtle, wry and moving.”  Valerie Sayers, The Washington Post

“Smiley is prolific [and] seemingly writes the way her idol Dickens did—as easily as if it were breathing . . . She made up her mind at an early age that she was going to master not just one genre, but all of them. Her new book is the first volume of a trilogy—one of the few forms left for her to tackle . . . ”  Charles McGrath, The New York Times

“Audaciously delicious . . . Every character here steals our heart.”  Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune

“It’s breathtaking to realize that this novel is the first of a trilogy!”  Philadelphia Inquirer

“From Pulitzer winner Smiley, a multi-generational saga about an Iowa farming family’s shifting fortunes.”  Kim Hubbard, People, “Best Books of the Fall”

“Epic, striking . . . Masterly.”  Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller (UK)

“The expansive American epic is Smiley’s métier, and she’s in top form with this multigenerational story of an Iowa farming family—sturdy sons, passionate daughters, a tough but tender existence—across the first half of the 20th century.”  Time

“Highly recommended; a lush and grounded reading experience.”  Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (starred review)

“Tremendous . . . Smiley is a seductive writer in perfect command of every element of language. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres, a novel about a farming family in Iowa, and she returns to that fertile ground to tell the stories of the Langdons, a clan deeply in accord with the land . . . It will be on the top of countless to-read lists.”  Donna Seaman, Booklist(starred review)

“Exciting. . . In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Smiley returns to the Iowa of her Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres, but in a different vein. ..Smiley plans to extend the tale of the Langdon family well into the 21st century; she’s off to a very strong start.”  Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Book Club Notes
01 October, 2014

About Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acreswhich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2006 she received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.

Other books by Jane Smiley


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