September 13, 2015

August - Some Luck by Jane Smiley

How do we convince our very busy resident playwright to come back to book club? Let her pick the book! Ellen chose Jane Smiley's Some Luck for our August selection.

Our feelings were mixed on this one, although, through discussion, I think some of us appreciated the book more. As Ellen said, it is a book about the minutiae of life. Interestingly, that word somehow made this very detailed look at one family's life seem more intimate and, therefore, more interesting.

Linda was a big fan of this books, saying she could see why Smiley was award winning. She was especially impressed with Smiley's writing. Others of us had some issues with the writing. We were particularly put off, right from the beginning, by Smiley's choice to write from the point of view of an infant/toddler. In a book so firmly set in reality, it seemed odd to choose the point of view of a character who could not possibly have made such mindful observations.

Even those that liked the book more than others, felt like the focus sometimes slipped from where they wish it would have stayed. Although Ellen understood that Smiley was trying to show the bigger world picture by taking the book into the World War II theater, she agreed that it was a bit jarring given the focus of the rest of the book. Lisa pointed out that there would have been plenty of story to tell for that time period from the perspective of the family at home and how the war affected them.

Some Luck is the first book of a trilogy and we talked about where Smiley might take the story in the next two books. This one ended in the 1950's so there is certainly room to move forward but we also wondered if she might pick up one of the characters and move the focus to that person's immediate family. Only a couple of us indicated that they might read more of the trilogy.

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