Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Some Luck has been my gym audio book for the last few weeks. Personally, I was late to the audio book game. I was one of those people who did not really buy into the idea that listening to a book as reading a book. Then something happened, well The Son by Phillip Meyer happened and I was converted.
This book is the story of the Langdon family from 1920 - the early 1950's. It is also the first in a series that covers 100 years of the family across the United States. In the beginning the Langdon's are on their farm in Denby, Iowa waiting to start their family. Ms. Smiley does an amazing job of introducing each member of the family, and getting you so involved in them that as time goes on you have to know how they are all going to grow. From Frank, the oldest son, who goes to college only to leave early and join the Army as a sniper during World War II to their youngest, and most bookish child, Henry and how from an early age we know the farm life will never be for him. I really enjoyed the how each character dealt with another aspect of American history - the story line of the sister-in-law and her husband who are Reds prior and during the war was really fascinating.
Something also has to be said for the amazing way that Ms. Smiley paints life on a rural farm in Iowa. This is the second novel I have read by her, her Pulitzer wining novel A Thousand Acres was first, and I can tell you that she knows the mid-west almost as a person. She can get you into the emotions of the land - as seen when draught strikes the region. No matter where or what the characters were doing, the author paints an amazing picture.
To speak to the narrator - Lorelei King - I will say that she does a very nice job. She is able to change her inflection for each character that I was able to tell them apart by her voice alone. There are a lot of characters through this book - some speaking German and some only have small moments in the story - but she does a great job of making them each distinct. The only issue I had with her was when she had to read the sex scenes. Some of the more graphic turns of phrase just seemed odd - it was like my mom was reading it to me. And it made me a little uncomfortable. That is a minor quibble though. She really is great.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and plan on getting to book two and three in the series. The Langdons are a family that I am invested in. I want to know what happens to all of their children, and how the family and the farm survive the 60's and forward. My friend Kevin recommended this one - and I will have to take his recommendations even more seriously now.
Rating : 4 books