Review: Some Lucky by Jane Smiley

some-luck“Something had created itself from nothing — a dumpy old house had been filled, if only for this moment, with twenty-three different worlds, each of them rich and mysterious.”

Since it arrived in bookstores in 2014 — my first year as a bookseller (I know, late bloomer, right? — I’ve been meaning to read Jane Smiley’s Some Luck. But you know how it is; life (by which I mean other books) finds a way to intrude on your best laid plans, and suddenly that novel you meant to read in 2014 is still unread in 2019.

Well, there was no way I could let this turn into a Wolf Hall debacle (still unread more than ten years later), so demonstrating the kind of roguishness I’m known for, I finally shunted aside my piles of proofs (they toppled like dominoes; some stacks are still falling) and began reading the first book in the Last Hundred Years trilogy, praying it would live up to my expectations (that had only enhanced as the wait lengthened). And, oh boy, it did.

Some Luck begins in 1920 and ends in 1953 (each year is a chapter), and relays the story of The Langdons. Walter Langdon, recently returned from WWI, and his wife Rosanna have settled on a remote Iowa farm to commence their lives together. The novel charts their family’s lives through seismic events — the Great Depression, World War Two, the beginnings of the Cold War — but it’s the ordinary moments, those sacred times we only truly appreciate in hindsight, family gathered together, laughing around the dinner table, that gives Some Luck its profundity. Smiley’s prose is clean and unobtrusive, and brings to live the heterogeneous personalities of her cast as she moves round-robin style from one character to the next. Epic in scale, this is a trilogy I’ll read slowly to savour as long as I possibly can. Is there a better feeling than discovering a sublime novelist?

ISBN: 9781447275602
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 640
Imprint: Picador
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publish Date: 26-Feb-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

 

2 thoughts on “Review: Some Lucky by Jane Smiley

  1. Great review, will seek out that one. Have you read psychological thriller ‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish? It’s a hard book to describe without giving too much away, and gripping-page-turner doesn’t do it justice. The best plot I’ve read this year!

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