Pulitzers: The Awakening Land Trilogy

December 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Fiction | 4 Comments

Trying to read through all the Pulitzer winners in fiction turns out to be more than a one-year project.  I’m 78% through but it looks like the 1960s, 70s, and a couple of stragglers from the 80s and 90s will have to wait until 2011.  The vast majority of these books, though, have been great reads, and it’s well worth the time commitment.

When possible, I like to read the entire series if one book wins the prize, for continuity’s sake and to appreciate the story in the context intended by the author.  Conrad Richter’s Awakening Land trilogy, beginning with The Trees and The Fields and culminating in the prize-winning The Town (1951), is more rewarding when read in full.

The heroine of the story is a tough-as-nails pioneer girl whose family clears land in the Ohio wilderness circa 1800.  The saga continues throughout her life up until the dawn of the industrial age.  It’s a bit like Little House on the Prairie, only smarter and less syrupy.  (Not that I’m not a fan!)

These books are chock full of humor – not terribly common in Pulitzer books – but there are tragic moments as well.  I was just going to say it would make a good TV series, but on checking it turns out The Awakening Land was made into a mini-series in 1978.  (And that makes me wonder if it helped pave the way for LHOTP‘s TV debut).



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  1. If I remember correctly, it was the other way around. Litttle House on the Prairie was a smash hit, so viewers were definitely up for another pioneering saga. The casting is a little funny — I had some trouble with Jane Seymour as Sayward’s sister, Genny (sp?) but that probably helped her get the part of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. As for the trilogy of books, I liked The Trees and The Fields much better than The Town.

  2. I am working on all of the Pulitzers too, though at a slower pace than you. I’ll look forward to getting to this one. I’m slogging through The Stone Diaries at the moment, which has yet to really arrest my interest.

    I also wanted to thank you for your recommendations, they have definitely influenced my reading this year.

    • Thank you! I’ve been working on recommending fewer books – only those that really stand out – so hopefully my recommendations will be of higher quality.

  3. I’m so glad I found this blog. I admire your Pulitzer project.

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