Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Some Luck
Cover of Some Luck
Some Luck
Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga Series, Book 1
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: a powerful, engrossing new novel--the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father's heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you'd seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy--a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.

From the Hardcover edition.
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: a powerful, engrossing new novel--the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father's heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you'd seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy--a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.

From the Hardcover edition.
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    1920

    Walter Langdon hadn't walked out to check the fence along the creek for a couple of months--now that the cows were up by the barn for easier milking in the winter, he'd been putting off fence-mending--so he hadn't seen the pair of owls nesting in the big elm. The tree was half dead; every so often Walter thought of cutting it for firewood, but he would have to get help taking it down, because it must be eighty feet tall or more and four feet in diameter. And it wouldn't be the best firewood, hardly worth the trouble. Right then, he saw one of the owls fly out of a big cavity maybe ten to twelve feet up, either a big female or a very big male--at any rate, the biggest horned owl Walter had ever seen--and he paused and stood for a minute, still in the afternoon breeze, listening, but there was nothing. He saw why in a moment. The owl floated out for maybe twenty yards, dropped toward the snowy pasture. Then came a high screaming, and the owl rose again, this time with a full-grown rabbit in its talons, writhing, going limp, probably deadened by fear. Walter shook himself.

    His gaze followed the owl upward, along the southern horizon, beyond the fence line and the tiny creek, past the road. Other than the big elm and two smaller ones, nothing broke the view--vast snow faded into vast cloud cover. He could just see the weather vane and the tip of the cupola on Harold Gruber's barn, more than half a mile to the south. The enormous owl gave the whole scene focus, and woke him up. A rabbit, even a screaming rabbit? That was one less rabbit after his oat plants this spring. The world was full of rabbits, not so full of owls, especially owls like this one, huge and silent. After a minute or two, the owl wheeled around and headed back to the tree. Although it wasn't yet dusk, the light was not very strong, so Walter couldn't be sure he saw the feathery horns of another owl peeking out of the cavity in the trunk of the elm, but maybe he did. He would think that he did. He had forgotten why he came out here.

    Twenty-five, he was. Twenty-five tomorrow. Some years the snow had melted for his birthday, but not this year, and so it had been a long winter full of cows. For the last two years, he'd had five milkers, but this year he was up to ten. He hadn't understood how much extra work that would be, even with Ragnar to help, and Ragnar didn't have any affinity for cows. Ragnar was the reason he had more cows--he needed some source of income to pay Ragnar--but the cows avoided Ragnar, and he had to do all the extra milking himself. And, of course, the price of milk would be down. His father said it would be: it was two years since the war, and the Europeans were back on their feet--or at least back on their feet enough so that the price of milk was down.

    Walter walked away from this depressing thought. The funny thing was that when he told his father that he broke even this year, expecting his father to shake his head again and tell him he was crazy to buy the farm when land prices were so high, his father had patted him on the back and congratulated him. Did breaking even include paying interest on the debt? Walter nodded. "Good year, then," said his father. His father had 320 acres, all paid for, a four-bedroom house, a big barn with hay stacked to the roof, and Walter could have gone on living there, even with Rosanna, even with the baby, especially now, with Howard taken by the influenza and the house so empty, but his father would have walked into his room day and night without knocking, bursting with another thing that Walter had to know or do or remember or finish. His father was strict, and liked things just so--he even oversaw Walter's mother's cooking,...

About the Author-
  • Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, as well as five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2006 she received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 7, 2014
    In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Smiley returns to the Iowa of her Pulitzer Prize–winning A Thousand Acres, but in a very different vein. The warring sisters and abusive father of that book have given way to the Langdons, a loving family whose members, like most people, are exceptional only in their human particularities. The story covers the 1920s through the early ’50s, years during which the family farm survives the Depression and drought, and the five Langdon children grow up and have to decide whether to stay or leave. Smiley is particularly good at depicting the world from the viewpoint of young children—all five of the Langdons are distinct individuals from their earliest days. The standout is oldest son Frank, born stubborn and with an eye for opportunity, but as Smiley shifts her attention from one character to another, they all come to feel like real and relatable people. The saga of an Iowa farm family might not seem like an exciting premise, but Smiley makes it just that, conjuring a world—time, place, people—and an engaging story that makes readers eager to know what happens next. Smiley plans to extend the tale of the Langdon family well into the 21st century; she’s off to a very strong start.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 15, 2014
    Smiley (Private Life, 2010, etc.) follows an Iowa farm family through the thick of the 20th century. We first meet Walter Langdon in 1920 as he anxiously surveys his fields. Milk prices are down, and anyway "worry-shading-into-alarm [is] Walter's ever-present state," thinks wife Rosanna. The freakish accidental death of a toddler daughter is the only incident here that really justifies Walter's apprehensions (it wouldn't be a Smiley novel without at least one cruel twist of fate), but underpinning the comparatively placid unfolding of three decades is farm folks' knowledge that disaster is always one bad crop away, and luck is never to be relied on. (The sardonic folk tale "Lucky Hans" is retold several times.) The Langdons raise five children to varied destinies. Smart, charismatic Frank leaves home for college and the Army. Steady, sensitive Joe stays home on the farm, its perennial round of backbreaking labor somewhat alleviated by such innovations as tractors and commercial fertilizer. Golden girl Lillian marries a government employee who gets Frank involved in spying on suspected communist agents after the war-ironic, since Rosanna's sister Eloise is a Trotskyist. Times are changing: Henry, the family intellectual, will clearly end up in academia; Lillian and Frank are both living in Eastern suburbs. Youngest daughter Claire is less vivid than her siblings, and the names begin to blur a bit as the postwar baby boom creates a burgeoning new generation, but for the most part Smiley juggles characters and events with her customary aplomb and storytelling craft. The novel doesn't so much end as stop, adding to the sense that we've simply dropped in on a continuing saga. Smiley is the least sentimental of writers, but when Rosanna and Walter look at the 23 people gathered at Thanksgiving in 1948 and "agreed in an instant: something had created itself from nothing," it's a moment of honest sentiment, honestly earned. An expansive, episodic tale showing this generally flinty author in a mellow mood: surprising, but engaging.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2014
    As Smiley demonstrated in her Pulitzer Prize winner, "A Thousand Acres", she can write powerfully about American farm life while illuminating deeper truths. Here, moving from the 1920s to the 1950s, she shows how Iowa farmers Rosanna and Walter Langdon try to pass on their values to their five children. As the children grow up, with some departing for America's coasts, we get a wide-angle view of midcentury America. A featured author at "LJ"'s Day of Dialog.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New Yorker "This sweeping, carefully plotted novel traces the history, from 1920 to the Cold War era, of a single Iowa farming family. Each chapter focuses on one year, setting the minor catastrophes and victories of the family's life against a backdrop of historical change, particularly the Great Depression. As the children branch out from their tiny town, so, too, does the story, eventually encompassing several generations, cities, and cultural movements. Smiley, like one of her characters contemplating the guests at the Thanksgiving table, begins with an empty house and fills it 'with twenty-three different worlds, each one of them rich and mysterious.'"
  • Christine Pivovar, Kansas City Star "What's unusual about Some Luck is how closely it's meant to mimic real life, and yet how important Smiley's gifts as a novelist are to achieving that effect. The way the story unfolds makes it feel not so much like reading a novel as catching up with relatives every couple of months, finding out who's been up to what and comparing stories. Characters reminisce about scenes from earlier in the book that start to feel like our memories, too. Smiley's ability to sketch a scene, to bring to life the quiet incidents as well as the big ones--the moment when something finally makes sense, or a decision is reached, or someone lets slip something they shouldn't--are what transform the family stories into literature . . . Some Luck draws the reader in with easy charm."
  • Amy Goodfellow Wagner, Examiner.com "A magnificent achievement . . . Pulitzer Prize-winning Smiley has embarked on an audacious project: the first volume of an epic family chronicle that spans the past century. She pulls it off handily; her touch is light and assured. With each passing year, the Langdons respond to the events that shaped America itself . . . While written with humor and affection, Some Luck is a constant reminder of how fleeting life really is. Babies arrive with little warning. Children die in freak accidents. Families care for their aging and failing elders. Walter and Rosanna both worry constantly--about their farm and their family. In the end, it all comes down to luck."
  • Sandra Levis, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "The fertile first installment of Smiley's century-spanning trilogy of fatalism, farm life and family--a big story of a big family in a big country. [But] the focus is up-close and intimate: Smiley cultivates her characters in scenes that are sometimes lightly comical, touchingly sad, sweet, or slightly strange, and they are always perfectly, beautifully true to life. She gives every Langdon careful consideration--endowing each of them with discrete likes, dislikes, private thoughts, and secret hopes and fears--but it is Frank, the baby born on New Year's Day, 1920, who breaks the mold . . . The reader longs for the Golden Age of the early chapters and the way of life we know will not survive, even as we eagerly await the sequel. And all we can do is wait, patiently."
  • Ellen Emry Heltzel, The Seattle Times "Engaging. . . . Smiley is a self-assured writer, a skillful stylist who launches her story from a baby's-eye view. She plumbs the drama in ordinary life, hitting all our nostalgia buttons on the way, from the one-room schoolhouse and horse-drawn plow to the TV set. As the landscape changes, from a vista of corn fields and self-sufficiency to green lawns and consumerism, Smiley is a master of the telling detail . . . Populated by sympathetic characters who take what life brings, [this] is a look back at what feels like simpler times. Family is Smiley's turf, and she plays it well."
  • Natalie Serber, The Oregonian "The wonderful first installment of Smiley's The Last Hundred Years Trilogy, which tells the story of an Iowa farm family from 1920 to 2019. As far as I'm concerned, the next two cannot follow soon enough . . . Over the years, the Langdons will have six children, each with their own interesting life, messy desires and flaws that will compel them out into the world, some far from the farm that the family both loathes and loves. There are deaths, blizzards, droughts, and accidents, as well as births, celebrations and
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Kindle Book
    Release date:
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 5 titles every 30 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Some Luck
Some Luck
Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga Series, Book 1
Jane Smiley
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel