Not Logged in.
Book Jacket
Some Luck
"Tremendous...It will be on the top of countless to-read lists." - Booklist
Summary and Reviews
Excerpt
Reading Guide
Author Biography

How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Created: 10/13/14

Replies: 19

Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1303

Expert

How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Each chapter takes place over the course of one year. How does Smiley use this structure to propel her story?


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Each chapter is a year in the lives of the Langdon family, and each year there are changes in their lives - births, deaths, weather disasters, farm production problems, the maturing of each character. It is an interesting framework in which to view the lives of the characters and the joys, as well as the trials and tribulations, they experience.


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mainlinebooker

Join Date: 09/28/14

Posts: 7

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

As this is going to span over 100 years in her three books, the yearly snapshot gives us a glimpse of each character's evolution as if we were looking at them through a microscope.


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mystinamarie

Join Date: 12/19/12

Posts: 37

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I realized very near the beginning of the book that each chapter was going to represent a year and I found it very comforting and welcome. The structure of this seems well-suited to tell a story of 100 years. As the reader we can count on neat packets of information, propelling the story and the characters forward in organized increments.
I also found it to be more realistic and relate-able to follow as a family's history. Our own lives are measured by birthdays, school grades, anniversaries, and holidays that fall annually. This is a concept that we are used to measuring time with. Even social media wise, our Facebook pages are now organized in a time line of years and apps such as TimeHop will help us revisit posts and photos in yearly increments to the day, looking back.
Organizing a novel in such a familiar jump of story-telling helped move the story along realistically for me. It didn't leave room for decades of unaccounted for time or plots that jump around throughout the years of a character's life and development.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

Posts: 105

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Propel the story, it does. Each chapter is a year in the family's history. It shows, in a nutshell, what transpired during this time frame. What ends up happening is that the story becomes two-dimensional.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

Expert

Some Luck

This chronological order to a book was a breath of fresh air .so many current books use flashbacks and numerous narrators. This is a story of ordinary people and its refreshing to have it told in a simple wayit's as if Jane Smiley is saying that these are people you meet every day, that suffer and survive and no literary tricks will change them.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tswaine

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 37

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I think Smiley does a great job of using each chapter as a year in the life of the Langdon family. I agree with joanp that some books use flashbacks and different narrators and I frequently get confused and have to go back and re-read chapters. This was in chronological order and I found that to be so easy to follow.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
donnac's Gravatar
donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

Posts: 120

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I loved this structure. It felt like a very organic way to tell the story. Almost the way I like to think/recollect my own life. As in, "that was the year thus-and-so happened," Etc..


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

One of the things I found interesting about this one year per chapter (or one chapter per year) was that there were lots of things going on in the wider world--the depression, World War II--over the time period represented. We hear about those things, but only as they directly affect the family.


Posted Oct. 15, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
emfremont

Join Date: 03/12/14

Posts: 14

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I enjoyed the one year one chapter structure. It helped to relate the events of that particular era with what was happening on the farm and in the lives of the characters.


Posted Oct. 15, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyh

Join Date: 06/25/13

Posts: 147

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I love the way her book progresses, year by year. It gives us a very good understanding of what is going on in their lives. I also like the time period the book started in. You can see the changes in history as the years go on.


Posted Oct. 15, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickys

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 28

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I appreciated this structure and the inclusion of personal and family events with larger events in the region, country and the world. The weather, politics, wars etc influenced the choices and lack of choices available to the characters and it was interesting to see how different generations responded to the various circumstances. It generally made it easier to follow both timelines - the family and the greater world.


Posted Oct. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
eileenf

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 11

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

The chapter structure was one of my favorite aspects of this book. It made reading it fun, because I could read a chapter, put the book down, and then come back to it with a new continuing story.


Posted Oct. 17, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ssh

Join Date: 02/04/14

Posts: 9

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

The chapter structure gave me something to look forward to, in the story moving on. This was a difficult story for me to relate to and I needed this pacing in order to feel like I wanted to keep reading.


Posted Oct. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 57

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Celiaarnaud - I could not agree with you more. In fact, after reading several chapters, I found myself thinking - oh, we are at this point in history, or this is happening in the big world. The history is related but as it affects the family and we see history's effects on their lives. Sort of a different kind of historical fiction.


Posted Oct. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

And lots of times those historical events happen at a different time of year than the part Smiley has chosen to include. We end up hearing about things in retrospect.

I like the observation that this is the way we think about our own lives. I often like to know how old a person is because it helps me know whether they lived through the same swath of history as me.


Posted Oct. 23, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alisonf

Join Date: 01/31/13

Posts: 82

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I really liked the chapter structure on this book. By doing this, she did not have to set the stage each time and it felt more natural in following the family enabling at times a look at private quiet and sometimes unimportant moments plot wise that helped with character development. Such a simple structure but well used here.


Posted Oct. 31, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Pepper

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 12

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

Once I got into the cadence of the novel-- a chapter a year-- I looked for the subtle changes they'd reveal. Given that the series would cover a century, I found the rhythm comforting and dependable. As other reviewers have said, it can be challenging to bounce from one time to another. I don't think it's always a bad thing to have a story challenge you to keep up, but as one often wants to take a hike, there are times when a leisurely train ride is in order. I found the format as I do the annual holiday letter; I look forward to see what time has brought.


Posted Nov. 12, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
andreab

Join Date: 07/29/14

Posts: 71

Expert

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

By having each chapter represent a year, the story is propelled forward. Every chapter is a progression of the storyline because of the structure of the book. It makes you feel like you are moving forward in time not only by events but by finishing a chapter.


Posted Nov. 12, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
malindan

Join Date: 05/10/12

Posts: 48

RE: How does Smiley use the chapter structure to propel her story?

I agree with the idea that this was a refreshing way for the author to tell the story. It was easy to follow...simple like many of the characters and their lives. I agree with those who said the chapter structure mirrors the family itself.


Reply

Please login to post a response.