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Golden Age

Cover of Golden Age

Golden Age

Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga Series, Book 3
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From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: the much-anticipated final volume, following Some Luck and Early Warning, of her acclaimed American trilogya richly absorbing new novel that brings the remarkable Langdon family into our present times and beyond

A lot can happen in one hundred years, as Jane Smiley shows to dazzling effect in her Last Hundred Years trilogy. But as Golden Age, its final installment, opens in 1987, the next generation of Langdons face economic, social, political—and personal—challenges unlike anything their ancestors have encountered before.
Michael and Richie, the rivalrous twin sons of World War II hero Frank, work in the high-stakes world of government and finance in Washington and New York, but they soon realize that one's fiercest enemies can be closest to home; Charlie, the charming, recently found scion, struggles with whether he wishes to make a mark on the world; and Guthrie, once poised to take over the Langdons' Iowa farm, is instead deployed to Iraq, leaving the land—ever the heart of this compelling saga—in the capable hands of his younger sister.
Determined to evade disaster, for the planet and her family, Felicity worries that the farm's once-bountiful soil may be permanently imperiled, by more than the extremes of climate change. And as they enter deeper into the twenty-first century, all the Langdon women—wives, mothers, daughters—find themselves charged with carrying their storied past into an uncertain future.
Combining intimate drama, emotional suspense, and a full command of history, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-spanning portrait of this unforgettable family—and the dynamic times in which they've loved, lived, and died: a crowning literary achievement from a beloved master of American storytelling.


From the Hardcover edition.

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: the much-anticipated final volume, following Some Luck and Early Warning, of her acclaimed American trilogya richly absorbing new novel that brings the remarkable Langdon family into our present times and beyond

A lot can happen in one hundred years, as Jane Smiley shows to dazzling effect in her Last Hundred Years trilogy. But as Golden Age, its final installment, opens in 1987, the next generation of Langdons face economic, social, political—and personal—challenges unlike anything their ancestors have encountered before.
Michael and Richie, the rivalrous twin sons of World War II hero Frank, work in the high-stakes world of government and finance in Washington and New York, but they soon realize that one's fiercest enemies can be closest to home; Charlie, the charming, recently found scion, struggles with whether he wishes to make a mark on the world; and Guthrie, once poised to take over the Langdons' Iowa farm, is instead deployed to Iraq, leaving the land—ever the heart of this compelling saga—in the capable hands of his younger sister.
Determined to evade disaster, for the planet and her family, Felicity worries that the farm's once-bountiful soil may be permanently imperiled, by more than the extremes of climate change. And as they enter deeper into the twenty-first century, all the Langdon women—wives, mothers, daughters—find themselves charged with carrying their storied past into an uncertain future.
Combining intimate drama, emotional suspense, and a full command of history, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-spanning portrait of this unforgettable family—and the dynamic times in which they've loved, lived, and died: a crowning literary achievement from a beloved master of American storytelling.


From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the cover 1987


    It was friday. Everyone was somewhere else, doing last-­minute chores. The tall young man got out of his little green station wagon, stretched, looked around, took off his sunglasses, and started up the walk. Minnie Frederick, who saw him through her bedroom window, dropped the stack of sheets she was carrying and ran down the stairs. But he was not at the door, and when she went out onto the porch, he was nowhere to be seen. Back in the house, through the kitchen, out onto the stoop. Still nothing, apart from Jesse, her nephew, a noisy dot, cultivating the bean field east of the Osage-­orange hedge. She walked around the house to the front porch. The car was still there. She crossed to it and looked in the window. A pair of fancy boots in the foot well of the passenger's seat, two wadded-­up pieces of waxed paper, a soda can. She stood beside the green car for a long moment, then touched the hood. It was warm. It was real. She was not imagining things, sixty-­seven years old, she who came from a long line of crazy people on all sides, who was both happy and relieved to have chosen long ago not to reproduce. What, she thought, was the not-­crazy thing to do? It was to make a glass of iced tea and see if her sister, Lois, had left any shortbread in the cookie jar.

    When had Lois first mentioned him—­Charlie Wickett—­sometime in January? But Minnie hadn't paid attention, because she was planning her summer trip to Rome. He was Tim's son, Lillian and Arthur's grandson, produced by means of one of those irresponsible high-­school romances that every principal was only too familiar with. The baby had ended up in St. Louis. Tim had ended up in Vietnam, killed by a grenade fragment. Charlie now lived in Aspen, said he would be happy to meet everyone, to drive to Denby, and within a week, a reunion had exploded around his coming. They were all heading to the farm—­Frank and Andy, Michael and Richie with their wives and kids, Janet, alone (Minnie remembered that Janet had always had a thing about Tim), Arthur and Debbie and her kids (Hugh, her husband, couldn't come because of exams, though). There hadn't been a family gathering of this size since Claire's wedding—­1962, that was. Minnie hoped everyone would mind their manners. She knew plenty of farm families who did not get along, but they kept their conflicts to themselves and behaved, at least in public. Families that had scattered, like the Langdons, could end up looking and acting like alien species of a single genus. Frank had nothing in common with Joe (never had), except that, thanks to Frank, the farm was paid off. Frank let Jesse and Joe work the land however they wished. Lillian, whom everyone had loved, had passed three and a half years before, and there was plenty of family gossip about what a mess Arthur and Debbie were. Dean kept to himself, and Tina, the youngest, had taken off to the mountains of Idaho. She wasn't coming (but she had driven down to Aspen, met Charlie, liked him, and issued a bulletin in the form of a drawing that depicted a handsome, laughing kid. How she had gotten the twinkle into his eye, Minnie didn't understand). For once, Henry was coming from Chicago (Minnie suspected that no one in Chicago knew that Henry was a farm kid). Only Claire, who was driving up from Des Moines, was a regular visitor. A big party. Lois was in charge of the cooking, Jen in charge of shopping, Joe in charge of the generous welcome. Minnie had done a lot of cleaning.

    Now Charlie appeared on the other side of the screen door, loose-­limbed and fit. He saw her, he smiled, and Minnie said, "I thought you were a...
About the Author-
  • JANE SMILEY is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, Some Luck and Early Warning, the first volumes of The Last Hundred Years trilogy. She is also the author of five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The third installment of Smiley's Last Hundred Years trilogy is beautifully performed by Lorelei King, whose pleasant voice and easy cadence make for a delightful listen. Her vocals dance across the final volume of this family saga with a lively pace and clear tone. The broad cast of characters is nimbly presented, thanks to her skill with varied personalities. An interesting thing to note is the value of hearing the first two volumes before this final one; understandably, there's quite a lot of history to the Langdon family's story, and trying to catch up via audio performance, no matter how fine, can be daunting. This audiobook is another Smiley classic--listen to the first two to truly embrace this third. L.B.F. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Golden Age
Golden Age
Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga Series, Book 3
Jane Smiley
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