Jane Smiley

Novelist & Essayist

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her latest novel, Private Life, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.

She has contributed to a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, Elle, Outside, The New York Times, Harper's, The American Prospect, Practical Horseman, The Guardian, The Nation, Real Simple, and Playboy, and she regularly blogged for The Huffington Post between 2005 and 2008.

In addition to novels for adults, she has written several works of nonfiction, including Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, a history and anatomy of the novel as a form, and The Man Who Invented the Computer, an account of the complex and sometimes amazing circumstances that led to one of  the most important inventions of the 20th century. She has also published four volumes of her horse series for young adults.

Recently Published

Don't be fooled by the "middle-school" (grades 5 to 8 and up) marketing.
 "Miss them and be sorry."  Enjoy the read before gifting! 


Pie in the Sky

Fourth in the Abby Lovitt series: Pie in the Sky is the most expensive horse Abby Lovitt has ever ridden. 
But he is proud and irritable, and takes away attention from her beloved horse, True Blue. And then there's high school --- Abby finds new friends, but also new challenges. She begins to wonder  if there is another way to look at people, horses and life itself.    

A mother's comments:

"Just finished reading Pie in the Sky and enjoyed it enormously.  The best yet, in my opinion, of the Abby Lovitt series.  Especially interesting to me was the last part of the book which focused on the Carmichaels' unorthodox way of teaching horses to jump and enjoy it!  If Jane's horse trainer uses the training techniques Jane describes, her horses are 'blessed beasties,' indeed." 
NB - Skokie, IL

A middle-schooler writes about the first book in this series:

"I am reading one of your books at this time and it is called The Georges and the Jewels.  The book makes me feel excited and interested all at the same time!!!!!!  I can't wait to see what
happens next."  
N - Vancouver, B.C.

This from a grandmother on True Blue, third book in this series:

"I have just finished reading True Blue, which I found intriguing, relaxing, and delightful. Abby Lovitt is growing into a wonderful young woman whose values are admirable as they evolve towards maturity... Each book in this series seems to be better than the last, perhaps because each new one feels like reuniting with a long-range friendship."
VM - Pompton Plains, NJ


                                        For a brief description of each of these books please go to the Library's 3rd page.

Private Life

Booklist: A Private Life "offers a cold-eyed view of the compromises required by marriage while also providing an intimate portrait of life in the Midwest and West during the years 1883-1942" and it is heralded as "a subtle and thoughtful portrayal of a woman’s inner strength" by Library Journal. 

Margaret Mayfield is nearly an old maid at twenty-seven in post–Civil War Missouri when she marries Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early. He’s the most famous man their small town has ever produced: a naval officer and a brilliant astronomer—a genius who, according to the local paper, has changed the universe. Margaret’s mother calls the match “a piece of luck.”

A riveting new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winner that traverses the intimate landscape of one woman’s life, from the 1880s to World War II.

Margaret is a good girl who has been raised to marry, yet Andrew confounds her expectations from the moment their train leaves for his naval base in faraway California. Soon she comes to understand that his devotion to science leaves precious little room for anything, or anyone, else. When personal tragedies strike and when national crises envelop the country, Margaret stands by her husband. But as World War II approaches, Andrew’s obsessions take a different, darker turn, and Margaret is forced to reconsider the life she has so carefully constructed.

Private Life is a beautiful evocation of a woman’s inner world: of the little girl within the hopeful bride, of the young woman filled with yearning, and of the faithful wife who comes to harbor a dangerous secret. But it is also a heartbreaking portrait of marriage and the mysteries that endure even in lives lived side by side; a wondrously evocative historical panorama; and, above all, a masterly, unforgettable novel from one of our finest storytellers.

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