1000 Acres and King Lear

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Every book adaptation of an existing work has its own set of problems. Not only was Jane Smiley's 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 Smiley's text with Shakespeare but the way in which this …

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…a serpent-toothed child who betrays her father, here Caroline's betrayal is against her stand-in “mothers” Ginny and Rose. It is her love for Larry that marks her as the thankless child. We never actually see Larry's most terrible sins; we only have Ginny and Rose's accounts of them. The option exists that we are deliberately being shown not a revised view of Lear but an equally one-sided perspective, exactly as unfinished and unreliable as Shakespeare's.