This is Smiley’s most important work since A Thousand Acres, a brilliant book that won the Pulitzer Prize
The words “family saga” could invite comparisons to the worst of pulpy novels, but there is nothing trashy in the strong, clear-eyed and unsentimental way the Pulitzer Prize-winner tells the story of this vast, forceful and growing family.
The story started, just as America did, with a hard-working, simple family farming in the mid-west, and follows them as they step into the modern world.
Volume 3, which runs from 1987 to 2019, is more political and urban than parts 1 and 2 – dealing with war and PTSD, guns, GMO, food fads, 9/11, banking excesses, greed, climate change and family. But it is still the story of the Langdons – smart and hard-working, some of them ethically challenged – as their influence spreads and they enter their fifth generation.
The helpful family tree at the front of the book has expanded, but is somehow less necessary – Smiley is excellent at keeping the characters clear and separate, and telling the story of the family as a whole through the eyes of the key members of each generation. It’s big, meaty, delicious read by a brilliant writer who seemed destined for just this task.
Book published in October 2015. This review first appeared in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.