Forget the Novels, Check Out Jane Smiley’s Novellas

Forget the Novels, Check Out Jane Smiley’s Novellas

Jane Smiley may be a Pulitzer Prize winner for her unforgettable novel A Thousand Acres, and she may be able to pump out longer works of fiction like it’s nobody’s business (as her latest trilogy, beginning with Some Luck, testifies), but hidden behind all the classics and soon-to-be classics is a pairing of novellas that are stand-out works of literature, though they come in at only 208 pages combined. I’m talking about Smiley’s novellas, Ordinary Love and Good Will, each of which holds its own as piece of writing that truly captures the complexities of love, life, family, and everything that falls in-between.

Ordinary Love focuses in on the reunion of a broken family in their adulthood years, with a powerful and reminiscent matriarch narrator that carries readers through the events that led to the current day sense of detachment between family members. Good Will switches gears a bit, telling the story of a small family of three that lives off the land in isolation. Smiley’s ability to write about the complex relationships between those who are blood related is like no other, and this pairing of novellas in particular showcases both the inevitably wonderful and inevitably sorrowful emotions that run haywire in family life. A perfect pairing and a book that cannot be missed—get yourself a copy, stat.

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