Little, Big

Little, Big

Book - 2006
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John Crowley's masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood--not found on any map--to marry Daily Alice Drinkawater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.

Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, 2006
Edition: 1st Harper Perennial Modern Classics ed
ISBN: 9780061120053
0061120057
Branch Call Number: FICTION Crowley 2006
Characteristics: 538 p., 16 p. : ill., geneal. table ; 23 cm

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scribby
Apr 30, 2018

This is the chronicle of four generations of a strange family who live isolated in a big house on the edge of unreality. In that way it can be compared to “100 Years of Solitude”, as many critics have done. Like that book, it blends fantasy and realism, and is sometimes a sordid tale. In this case, however, the fantasy is that the Drinkwater family has a curious connection to fairies. There are also several characters who can talk to animals, and others who have become animals, and yet at least one other who seems to exist only in the imagination. (A digression: the fairies – usually simply called “them” – are more akin to Shakespeare’s than to Tolkien’s “Elves”, though the names in the novel contain references to both. In fact, after a series of allusions to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, one sub-plot in this book begins to resemble one of the plotlines in that play, though here it becomes tangled with a Lewis Carroll reference, goes in a completely different direction, and leads, indirectly, to a singular passage of pure bone-chilling horror. End of digression.) I might also compare this book to “Finnegans Wake” – a rambling atlas of (sometimes beautiful, often inscrutable) linguistic experimentation with multiple puns and references and where characters often seem as dreamlike and insubstantial as drops of water (hence the name “Drinkwater”). Incidents wander down garden paths, get lost, reappear later, or become altered dreams or memories. At 538 pages of small type, it’s a long read – though the language at least is worth it. …I will admit that it suffers from a common problem in fantasy, that the “magical” elements are derived from actual occult ideas. To me this often indicates a lack of effort on the part of the author to make up something, and brings up the possibility of drawing the reader into such activities. However, despite that weakness, I enjoyed this book – particularly its hazy, dreamlike atmosphere.

f
feralranger
Dec 15, 2017

I read this book many years ago and haven't read anything like it since. It transports you to a world that at once seems familiar and yet it isn't within most of our reach. This novel of a world within our world and a family of Fairies can make you believe in magic if you don't already. I felt like every time I opened the pages I was walking into a dream. I cannot say I understood it entirely but I can say that I enjoyed it immensely. It's really deeply sad and moving. I am a slow reader and had to start and restart several times because I would lose track of what, where, who and when but every restart i found something else to love about the writing and the magic it wrought.

x___x May 31, 2017

A favourite from my younger years that I reread to capture the magic again. Totally charming.

t
tapestry
Nov 12, 2016

I fell in love with this book years ago and each time I re-read it I find that it has not lost its magic. Give yourself time to sink into - get lost - in this book. Each reader will find in it his/her own gems - I know I have.
Jessie May

Part fantasy, part endearing love story, John Crowley's saga "Little, Big" is not a casual reader. The story unfolds and then folds back onto itself, like a Mobius strip taffy candy. If you enjoyed "100 Years of Solitude" or "The Time Traveler's Wife", this gem might be for you! Recommended by Michele

2
2muchbks
Feb 07, 2016

One of my favorites. Magical in subject and mood, this sprawling novel is thoroughly absorbing and beautifully written.

g
GingerKaren
Sep 10, 2013

Award winners may be interesting books that deserve to be singled out, but truly not something I want to give space to in my head or on my bookshelf.

n
namowkoob
Jun 21, 2011

As you can see from some of the other comments, this book is hard to describe. You will either like it, or not, but don't give up too quickly. It takes a little while to set the hook. Some of Crowley's writing is so beautiful it begs to be read out loud. Smoky and Daily Alice join Henry and Clare (The Time Traveler's Wife)as two of literature's most memorable lovers.

k
kalio
Sep 27, 2010

When anonymous Midwestern city boy Smoky Barnable locks eyes with long tall Daily Alice Drinkwater, it is love at first sight. Following a strange but quaint set of instructions (eat food that is made not bought; pack a suit that is old not new), Smoky walks to Edgewood?not found on any map?to marry Alice, live in the rambling Drinkwater house that is built in every style, and become part of this singular family?s history. The house was designed by great-grandfather John Drinkwater, an eccentric architect and author with a theory about concentric worlds within worlds. Daily Alice and her sister Sophie spent their childhood frolicking with Uncle Auberon, a man who devoted his life to capturing photographic evidence of the elusive ?they? who dwell in the wilderness that surrounds the family home. Two of the Drinkwater children, Alice?s son and Sophie?s daughter, leave the ancestral home to embark on big, strange, wondrous adventures in the big city and in the wild wild wood. And enigmatic Aunt Cloud endlessly consults her much-sought-after deck of cards and traces the Drinkwaters? progress through the unending story of life. The Drinkwaters are without doubt a magical family, and Little, Big is without doubt a fantasy novel of unparalleled beauty and style. Author John Crowley writes a lyrical prose as he tells the fanciful, whimsical saga of this almost mythical family and the various magical boundaries, fairy realms, and other-worlds that its members encounter and inhabit. Full of moments of wonder, clarity, and mystery, Little, Big is a fine, graceful, wandering fantasy story that you?ll want to read again and again and linger over and make last as long as you possibly can.

i
Iowakid
Jul 14, 2010

I really liked this book, but it was written in kind a maze like form, or an onion. Folding in upon itself over and over, kind of like Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a way. But not.
So you felt like you were having deja vu. It was best then, to read it in one read, as you could get lost.

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