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Extended Audio Sample A Thousand Acres Audiobook, by Jane Smiley Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (24,362 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jane Smiley Narrator: C. J. Critt Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 1991 ISBN: 9781436138093
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Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Jane Smiley’s spellbinding novel also headed bestseller 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Absorbing…Exhilarating…An engrossing piece of fiction.”

    Time

  • “Powerful and poignant.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A family portrait that is also a near-epic investigation into the broad landscape, the thousand dark acres of the human heart…The book has all the stark brutality of a Shakespearean tragedy.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Superb…There seems to be nothing Smiley can’t write about fabulously well.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A full, commanding novel…A story bound and tethered to a lonely road in the Midwest, but drawn from a universal source…Profoundly American.”

    Boston Globe

  • “It has been a long time since a novel so surprised me with its power to haunt…A Thousand Acres [has] the prismatic quality of the greatest art.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Brilliant…Absorbing…A thrilling work of art.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Smiley’s novel of family life on an insular Iowa farm raises profound questions about human conduct and moral responsibility.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Smiley lovingly creates an idyllic world of family farm life in Iowa in 1979…Not to be missed.”

    Library Journal

  • Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of the 1992 Ambassador Book Award
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 2/17/2014

    " Exhausting book to read. So many repressed emotions. So much cleaning. So much emptiness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kittyfritter | 2/2/2014

    " Jane Smiley is so gifted. I read her with a pencil and post-its nearby. One of the best books I've read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phyllis | 1/31/2014

    " Classic Smiley, very good, very controlled writing "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine | 1/30/2014

    " One of my all time favorite! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helen | 1/30/2014

    " Been a while since I read this book but momentsmfrom it still crop up in my mind from time to time. Wide scope but great depth and detail. Very unique. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 1/29/2014

    " Excellent book ... extremely sad ... kept me wanting to read further the same way Barbara Kingsolver did with Poisonwood Bible. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angie | 1/27/2014

    " I don't enjoy reading about incest. The story seemed to go on, and on, and on. Without any real structure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 1/26/2014

    " Unadorned writing and a marvelous family drama. Resonate and intrigued with the question asked by the protagonist - "where did it all start to go wrong?". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mae | 1/21/2014

    " A contemporary reworking of Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear. Meh, it was okay. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 1/20/2014

    " OK. I liked this book - until I realized what the plot was. And then I disliked it. Not because it wasn't well written (because it is a beautiful book) but because it made me so sad and angry. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Teresa | 1/13/2014

    " Set in Iowa in the 70's, a family farm is signed over to 2 daughters & their husbands. Quite a downer of a book but interesting nonetheless. It's a modern re-telling of King Lear so if you've read that this book isn't going to shock you but it will most likely disturb you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 1/6/2014

    " One of my favorite books. Now I know it starts out slow...but give it time. You won't forget those characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 korey | 1/4/2014

    " The book description is far better than the book. This was a disappointment all the way through. I could not get into the characters at all and the story was just too depressing to be believable. I wouldn't bother with this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Teresa Dropkin | 12/3/2013

    " This book was much rawer than I had anticipated; talk about dysfunction! It kept my attention! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 12/2/2013

    " The second best book I ever read next to The House of Scorpion. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elsie | 11/30/2013

    " very negative - no redeeming value "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Teddi | 11/28/2013

    " Ranks among my all-time favorites-epic isn't enough of a word to describe this work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harley | 11/4/2013

    " Engaging all the way through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Canann | 11/2/2013

    " I love this modern rendition of "King Lear." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sylvia | 10/20/2013

    " This was a great American story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 9/21/2013

    " Incredibly well-written. Now I understand why it won a Pulitzer Prize. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary D | 9/6/2013

    " A good read for those times when you want a longer, drama filled book. Smiley does a good job of making all her characters flawed and likeable at the same time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Holly | 6/12/2013

    " I loved the first hundred pages or so, but then the story turned into something different than I had expected. Also, somewhere near the end I had a dream about how to resolve the conflicts in this book (spoiler alert: the answer is direct communication). "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Krystal | 4/22/2013

    " negative stars. the literal equivalent of the movie view from the top. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sadie | 12/31/2012

    " so tragic, so good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 9/10/2012

    " My book club read this together with King Lear, Smiley's inspiration. The combo made for long reading, but it was interesting to compare the two works and see how A Thousand Acres came from King Lear. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maribeth | 6/25/2012

    " The sad story of a farm family at the pinnacle of dysfunction... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 4/20/2012

    " I'm usually not into the "Chronicle of a Midwest American Family" type books, but this one surprised me. Following the loose outline of King Lear, it manages to balance - just barely - tragedy with redemption. Not a lighthearted read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 8/17/2011

    " I just LOVED this book. The protagonist is an anti-hero for me. I don't want to give away the ending, but personally, I feel her life is redeemed at the end. Opinions, you other folks? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 6/21/2011

    " Well it was pretty Oprah-esque dark and twisted family story. However, if you don't read them too often then it doesn't get old and its a great story with interesting characters "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 5/19/2011

    " i would give this book 10 stars, i loved it. haunting, beautiful, sad, a little scary in the evilness of some of the characters. layers to peel back. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helen | 5/9/2011

    " Been a while since I read this book but momentsmfrom it still crop up in my mind from time to time. Wide scope but great depth and detail. Very unique. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Peggy | 4/28/2011

    " A good read if you like reading about a disfunctional family who are not very likeable people and manage to lose everything, including their relationships with each other and everyone they know. Not my thing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 4/28/2011

    " Probably easier to read than Shakespeare's version of King Lear. Disfunctional families are always good fodder. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christina | 4/21/2011

    " Unnecessary themes at the end--the book was strong enough till that point, then the end just destroyed it for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melody | 4/15/2011

    " It has some weird issues in the book that I wasn't expecting I guess. By the end of it I was SO beyond ready for it to be over it wasn't even funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 4/14/2011

    " Great writing and a good story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 4/14/2011

    " Timely for my read. Dealing with family issues. Sisters, fathers, mothers, patterns, trust, living on the surface, communication or lack of it, going through the motions..............I am glad I read it. Not great but it had plenty of nuggets. Wish it had a happy ending but that's life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frances | 4/9/2011

    " I'm still rather undecided on this one. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lily | 4/6/2011

    " Felt it was an unfair representation of the Midwest by an outsider. King Lear parallel is of interest. But canned meat processed to kill was a little over the top to this ex-farm gal. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cusmarg | 4/2/2011

    " There's a reason why a book wins a Pulitzer. Deep, dark themes about human nature and motivations. Very good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 3/25/2011

    " Good story except for the feeling I got that she's saying many farmers are insane. :( "

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About the Author
Author Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley is the author of five works of nonfiction and more than twenty acclaimed works of fiction, including A Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About the Narrator

C. J. Critt is a veteran of Broadway, regional theater, poetry slams, and solo shows. Hailed “Spoken Word Queen” by the Dallas Observer, Critt is a produced writer-director, an Audie nominee, and a CableACE Award winner.