Some Luck by Jane Smiley (Knopf, October 7, 2014)
In the first book of a trilogy, Jane Smiley takes the Langdon family from their Iowa farm in 1920 through the mid-1950s, following the lives of Walter and Rosanna's children and extended family. Each chapter in the book is a year in the life of the Langdons and takes on the rhythm of the seasons, echoed in the farming and later the school years of the children. While Walter worries about the choice he has made to be a farmer, worries about drought and the stock market crash, Rosanna runs the household, raising their children, worrying that the children will grow up to be good people who can care for themselves and others. Each of their children is different, strong-willed, fearless Frankie, animal-lover Joe, dreamy Lillian, book smart Henry and finally Claire, who is just Claire and never any trouble at all. Together the family faces the stock market crash, the death of a child, the death of older family members, neighbors losing their farms, World War II, the Cold War and the romances and lives of the children as they venture out into the world and start their own families and their own futures. Pulitzer prize winner Smiley writes with grace and assurance, giving each character, even as a toddler, a distinctive voice and leaving the reader with a picture of the whole rather than individual characters, and anxious for the second installment to the trilogy.