BookBrowse Reviews Private Life by Jane Smiley

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Private Life

By Jane Smiley

Private Life
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2010,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2011,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

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

George EliotJane Smiley's characters are what make Private Life a novel to read more than once. Her style is not showy – you might call her a "good plain American prose stylist" the way you would call someone a "good plain cook." Her plotting is not full of confusing turns or big reveals or romantic yielding. But her characters are masterful constructions, as intelligent and surprising as real people can be.

Although Private Life isn't being marketed as a "retelling" of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the way A Thousand Acres was billed as a modern King Lear, Smiley is clearly drawing on the legacy of George Eliot here. (Eliot hasn’t come up in the publicity surrounding Private Life yet, but Smiley has said in the past that Middlemarch is her favorite novel, and she writes extensively about it in Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, published in 2005.) ...

Members Only

BookBrowse's reviews and backstories are a members-only benefit. Full information is available on books for a limited time when they are featured as "Editor's Choices" - but that time has now elapsed for this book.

Find Out More
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  90Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.