Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Thousand Acres: Context
Thousand Acres: Plot Summary
Thousand Acres: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Thousand Acres: Themes
Thousand Acres: Quotes
Thousand Acres: Characters
Thousand Acres: Symbols
Thousand Acres: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Jane Smiley
Historical Context of A Thousand Acres
Other Books Related to A Thousand Acres
- Full Title: A Thousand Acres
- Where Written: California
- When Published: October 23, 1991
- Literary Period: 90s realism
- Genre: Domestic realism, American novel
- Setting: Zebulon Country (Midwestern United States)
- Climax: The hearing
- Antagonist: There are many: Larry Cook, Ginny Cook, Rose Cook, and Jess Clark could each be considered the true villain of the book.
- Point of View: First person (Ginny)
Extra Credit for A Thousand Acres
Hollywood does it again: A Thousand Acres was both one of the most critically claimed novels of the early 1990s, and a sweeping family epic. In other words, the movie adaptation was inevitable. It came in 1997, starring Jason Robards, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jessica Lange. Despite the all-star cast and excellent story, the film bombed critically and commercially, making back less than a third of its budget. The famous critic Roger Ebert wrote, “The screenplay is based on a novel by Jane Smiley, unread by me, which won the Pulitzer Prize, which means that either the novel or the prize has been done a great injustice." (Spoiler: it’s the novel.)
A woman of many interests: Jane Smiley’s most famous novels are rich and beautifully written, and often revolve around a family in the American Midwest. But some of her most interesting books haven’t been novels at all. In 2010, she published The Man Who Invented the Computer, a biography of John Vincent Atanasoff, the man often credited with inventing the digital computer. She’s also published four other works of nonfiction, including a widely praised biography of Charles Dickens.