Pulitzers: The Awakening Land TrilogyDecember 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).