Jane Smiley brings her extraordinary gifts—comic timing, empathy, emotional wisdom, an ability to deliver slyly on big themes and capture the American spirit—to the seductive, wishful, wistful world of real estate, in which the sport of choice is the mind game. Her funny and moving new novel is about what happens when the American Dream morphs into a seven-figure American Fantasy.
Joe Stratford is someone you like at once. He makes an honest living helping nice people buy and sell nice houses. His not-very-amicable divorce is finally settled, and he’s ready to begin again. It’s 1982. He is pretty happy, pretty satisfied. But a different era has dawned; Joe’s new friend, Marcus Burns from New York, seems to be suggesting that the old rules are ready to be repealed, that now is the time you can get rich quick. Really rich. And Marcus not only knows that everyone is going to get rich, he knows how. Because Marcus just quit a job with the IRS.
Good Faith captures the seductions and illusions that can seize America during our periodic golden ages (every Main Street an El Dorado). To follow Joe as he does deals and is dealt with in this newly liberated world of anything goes is a roller-coaster ride through the fun park of the 1980s. It is Jane Smiley in top form.
"It is hard to imagine how Smiley could have made Good Faith better. Like a sturdy, well-planned house, it makes room for everybody, and it ought to last a long, long time.” —Margaria Fichtner, Miami Herald
“Stolen intimacies, greed, corruption: There’ s much in Good Faith that strikes a chord today…Smiley’s new novel is at heart a meditation on community and the way money can warp the social contract.” —John Freeman, Time Out New York
“Jane Smiley has produced an irresistible novel of bad manners, a meditation on love and money that Jane Austen might have enjoyed, if she could have handled the sex.” ”Richard Lacayo, Time
“This is a typical Jane Smiley novel, not, of course, in its subject matter, but in its power to beguile and enthrall.” —Paul Gray, New York Times Book Review
“A cautionary prequel just right for our times. And great fun, to boot.” —Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times
“[Smiley] is one of our most Dickensian novelists, her imagination is prodigious, her observations exact, and the wealth of fascinating people inside her head a national treasure.” —Donald E. Westlake, Washington Post Book World
“[A] lusty, testosterone-pumped tale, which both revisits Smiley’s obsession with infidelity and underlines her remarkable ability to humanize an industry.” —Daniel Jones, Elle
“Smiley has invested her best talent in this work, and you can buy it in good faith.” —Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor
“She captures exactly the ‘80s zest for moneymaking, the sense that anything, fortuitously touched, can be made to glisten… In doing so, she reveals herself as one of the most traditional of novelists, one not afraid of making a point, or of ending a story with a well-found moral.” —Paul Evans, Book
“Pulitzer Prize-winner Smiley once again opens a convincing fictional window on an American subculture; this time around it’s financial speculation in the early 1980s…Schemes play out in a tragicomedy featuring a Dickensian mix of quirky characters chasing their versions of the American dream. Smiley’s amusing plot is charged with energy, her sense of time and place is on target, and her research into the ways and means of real estate development is seamlessly integrated…This absorbing book will appeal to a wide variety of readers.” —Starr E. Smith, Library Journal
“Smiley’s range as a writer is always surprising. Eschewing both the tragic dimension of A Thousand Acres and the satiric glee of Moo, her 12th book is a clever and entertaining cautionary tale about America’ s greedy decade of the 1980s…What makes the story beguiling is Smiley’s appreciation of the varieties and frailties of human nature. Every character here is fresh and fully dimensional, and anybody who lived through the ’80s will recognize them—and maybe themselves.” —Publishers Weekly
“Brilliant and versatile…Smiley has never been more seductive than in this acutely entertaining novel of big-time greed coming to a small East Coast town in the high-rolling 1980s…Smiley is fascinated by obsession and all the jargon and arcane knowledge associated with risky pursuits, and she expertly reanimates the mad and venal, not to mention illegal and disastrous, financial finagling that drove the money-mad, coked-up eighties, providing a thrilling rear-view mirror look at that notoriously covetous time.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist
“Smiley nails the Greed Decade with her trademark precision and philosophical bite. In 1982, narrator Joe Stratford is a divorced 40-year-old realtor in a part of New Jersey just beginning the transition from provincial backwater to upscale suburb…Marcus [Burns] is a con man, but Smiley expertly conveys his appeal to people quietly bored with their constricted lives…As Joe is drawn into [Marcus’ s] scams, the author unsparingly but with considerable empathy depicts the complicity of a decent guy doing questionable things that give him an alluring sense of freedom and power….A novel that, like A Thousand Acres, acknowledges both the seductiveness of excess and the necessity of limits. Blunt and bold: the work of one of America’ s best writers.” —Kirkus (starred review)
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Jane Smiley is the author of many novels, including A Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Horse Heaven. She lives in Northern California. In 2001, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.