In her Pulitzer Prize winner, Jane Smiley tells about an Iowa farm family broken apart by death, time, and their dysfunctional relationships with one another. Zebulon County has been home to Larry Cook all his life as he toils on his farm and raises his family, eventually amassing a large parcel of land of more than a thousand acres. Cook is hardened to the world around him by this rough farming lifestyle and the difficult seasonal routine of harvesting the land for a living. For more than twenty years he has been forced to raise his three daughters by himself after the death of his wife.
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One day Cook announces he will divide the farm and go into retirement. It is a decision that shatters the solidarity of the family as daughters Rose and Ginny are left in the will while youngest daughter Caroline is cut out. Rose is recovering from a bout with breast cancer. She is married to Pete and has two daughters but has sent them to boarding school. Ginny, married to Ty, but is broken hearten for her inability to carry her pregnancies to full term. Neighbor Jess Clark has reappeared into their lives after dodging the draft many years earlier, spending the Vietnam War living in Vancouver and Washington. The lives of this extended family move at the slow pace of the plains; watching each season change. Tragically, they continue to live without bringing resolution to their problems and communicating to one another how they feel.
The review of this Book prepared by David Fletcher