From the author of the Pulitzer-winning A Thousand Acres, two novellas which showcase Jane Smiley's unique gift for capturing the nuances of American domestic life. `I have given my children the two cruellest gifts I had to give... the experience of perfect family happiness and the certain knowledge that it could not last.' So says the narrator of Ordinary Love, the first of two thematically linked novellas, each investigating the dream of the perfect family. Ordinary Love gives voice to a mother, loving but unsure of her love's value. In forfeiting her powerful husband she fears that she has done her children - insecure Joe; restless Michael; cynical Ellen - irrevocable harm. Good Will, by contrast, is the story of a father, a relentlessly self-sufficient man determined to live apart from a coarsely materialistic world. In his singlemindedness, he does not see the damage he is causing until it is too late: his domestic idyll explodes in a frenzy of discontent. Together, the novellas raise a multitude of questions - about being a parent and being a child; about the desire to control other people and the need to compromise.