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Every book adaptation of an existing work has its own set of problems Not only was Jane Smileys 1991 novel a Pulitzer Prize-winning best seller with a large number of devoted fans but the book A Thousand Acres was in turn self-conscious reworking of King Lear which is a play with a larger number of more devoted fans It might not be fair to directly compare Smileys text with Shakespeare but the way in which this modernization invokes Lear invites such comparisons Smiley isnt just reusing the idea of a father who gives his land to his three daughters she is retaining so many specifics of Lear that the reader has to view the book as not merely a borrowing of elements but as a direct rewrite of the original text For instance the names are coded equivalents of Shakespeares Lear has been changed to Larry while Goneril Regan and Cordelia have become Ginny Rose and Caroline The political alliances of the play have been reproduced as financial alliances The storm at least is still a storm The nature of Smileys divergences from Shakespeare suggests a feminist re-evaluation of the tale She seems to be interested in reclaiming it from the male-controlled cultural tradition or at least in suggesting an alternative reading which is a different side of the same story from the standpoint of daughters rebelling against a grotesque patriarchy rather than through the eyes of the spurned patriarch Larry Cook a hard-working well-to-do Iowa farmer who has built up the thousand-acre spread he inherited from his father and grandfather has three daughters Ginny the oldest lives with her husband Ty down the road from Larry Rose also lives on the grounds with husband Pete and two daughters and Caroline is a lawyer in Des Moines One day Larry announces that hes retiring and splitting the farm among the three girls Ginny is agreeable and Rose downright enthusiastic but Caroline who
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