This is the first book in The Last Hundred Years trilogy. Book two, Early Warning, is already out and book three, Golden Age, is being published in October and I am going to resist as much as I possible can not to jump straight into book two, even though I absolutely want to.
The book begins in 1920 in Iowa and tells the story of The Langdons. Walter has recently returned home from the First World War. He and his new wife, Rosanna, have settled on a remote farm to start their life and their family. We get to know The Langdons through their ups and downs on the farm and the birth of their children. We follow each new Langdon as they make their way in the world and witness how each member of the family deal with history’s big moments; The Depression, World War Two and the beginnings of The Cold War in the 1950s. There are triumphs, there are tragedies, lives are changed and lives stay the same.
Jane Smiley’s writing is fantastic. She eases you into the family she has created and before you know it you are completely sucked into the story. You will fall in love with each character in a different way and share in the highs and lows of their lives. The big historical events, that are so familiar to us, effect each character in a different way, some small and some big. In telling the story from different perspectives she subtly fleshes out the context of each event showing both its importance and significance as well as its unimportance and insignificance. A rare thing to be able to pull off and pull off well.
I had not read Jane Smiley before and I cannot wait to get into the rest of this magnificent trilogy.