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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical in Every Sense
Little, Big is no easy read, but is well worth the time. To summarize the plot briefly just to give an idea of the backdrop, Little, Big tells the Tale of Smokey Barnable, an ordinary man who leaves the City to visit with the family of one of his coworkers at their country house, Edgewood. There he meets (and marries) Daily Alice Drinkwater and her family, who all are...
Published on June 30 2004 by Amazon Customer

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but over-rated masterpiece
Well, yes, this is a good book. It's been hailed as a literary masterpiece and it probably is. However, the book has no plot. There is no real sense of "conflict" that drives the characters. There is no real "resolution" to what passes for plot in LITTLE, BIG. No real character growth or epiphanies in the end.
What is exceptional about this book...
Published on Sept. 18 2003


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical in Every Sense, June 30 2004
This review is from: Little, Big (Hardcover)
Little, Big is no easy read, but is well worth the time. To summarize the plot briefly just to give an idea of the backdrop, Little, Big tells the Tale of Smokey Barnable, an ordinary man who leaves the City to visit with the family of one of his coworkers at their country house, Edgewood. There he meets (and marries) Daily Alice Drinkwater and her family, who all are Somehow part of a larger tapestry bridging the world as Smokey knows it and the world of the faerie. Be forewarned, though -- for a book about Faerie, don't expect little people with pointy ears on each page a la Lord of the Rings (which I love, btw, that is not meant disparagingly). On first read, there won't seem to be a lot of Faerie in it at all. But, the Faerie are mostly hidden on each page of Little, Big just as they are in Edgewood, and thoughout the read the sense of magic is everywhere.
Little, Big is at once epic in scope and deeply personal, magical and commonplace. That is part of the wonder of the book, the sense of magic that Crowley works into the quotidian, the feeling that something so unplausible really could be. Crowley's prose is incredibly rich, atmospheric and moving -- I often found myself wondering how he could write so many rich and beautiful lines in one book without ever feeling artificial.
There is not a lot of action, although so many things happen. There is not a lot of dialogue, although there are at least 8 major characters and scores of supporting players. And, as mentioned, there's not a lot of faeries, although they are everywhere (read it and you'll understand!). But, Little, Big is easily one of the best books I've read in the past ten years, the kind of work that is as magical as its subject matter and makes you long for more works this grand. It is a crime that Crowley has not found a wider audience, he is truly one of the most talented writers I've read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Huge & Gorgeous (& a bit too long), April 5 2004
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Silas Traitor (The South, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Little Big (Paperback)
The anonymous young Smoky Barnable leaves the City to marry into a very strange family occupying the very strange manor at Edgewood, where a war, or a merging of worlds, or something like it, may or may not be happening.
Little, Big is a huge, gorgeous piece of work populated with some of the most endearing characters and touching episodes I've read in a long while. Each of Crowley's characters is affected - sometimes quietly, but always deeply - by the mysterious Something happening at Edgewood. There is a definite force at work, but whether it's good, evil, or indifferent is all part of the mystery. Crowley does have a tendency to be verbose; with a bit of snipping the book could have been 100 pages more to the point. Though the ending wasn't as illuminating as I would have liked, the tale itself was highly satisfying, with many smaller beginnings and endings along the way, and enough triumph and sorrow for all four generations of Edgewood.
I didn't think of it until just now, but Little, Big is similar to Mervyn Peak's Titus Groan. Think of Edgewood as a contemporary Gormenghast driven by otherworldly forces rather than ancient tradition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Dream Come True, Oct. 15 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Little, Big (Paperback)
You don't have to like science fiction or fantasy to love Little, Big. Anyone who appreciates beautifully crafted writing and books that touch the deepest part of soul should find what their looking for here. John Crowley is one of the most wonderful writers in existence and Little, Big is certainly his best effort to date. His wonderful (and wondrous) books do unfold without a lot of John Grisham action, so if that's your idea of great literature, Little, Big probably wouldn't be for you.
About half of this gorgeous story takes place in New York City, although Crowley never actually calls it that, he just writes, "the City," while the other half takes place at Edgewood (you will find as you read that none of the names in this book are chosen at random, each has a special significance that eventually becomes crystal clear). Edgewood is an unsurpassingly complicated house, built around the turn of the century, by an architect whose wife could see...faeries.
Although we never meet the faeries directly in this novel, their presence is felt through almost all of the book. They are the faeries of A Midsummer Night's Dream, embodying the qualities of mischievousness, whimsy, capriciousness and untrustworthiness. The faeries are also an odd mix of power and vulnerability, but their spirit is in decline. Much of what happens in Little, Big happens because the faeries must rejuvenate the old with the new. Far from being a simple tale of magic or fantasy, this a highly complex one; Little, Big is a mammoth work of more than 600 pages in length.
The story begins with Smoky Barnable, an ordinary man who marries into an extraordinary family (the architect's great-granddaughter). It is Smoky who introduces us to Edgewood and to the subtle, but fantastic presence that his wife's family seems to take for granted. Smoky has a difficult time adjusting and sometimes he feels as though he's the only sane person in an otherwise insane world. The other residents of Edgewood see it differently; they somehow realize that a grand scheme is being played out and that once it is, their lives, as well as the lives of the faeries, will take on a luminous new meaning.
As we near the end of the century, Smoky's son Auberon leaves Edgewood for the City. It is, however, not quite the magical city that Smoky knew. There is a depression, nothing runs quite like it should and a feeling of dread looms over all. Against this background of dread, Auberon meets and falls in love with Sylvie. It is her disappearance that provides the catalyst for the final act of the faeries' scheme.
Despite Little, Big's length, not a word in the book is wasted. Everything is essential, everything is perfect and everything is perfectly placed. There are digressions and detours, but they all have their purpose. And, even if they didn't, they are a joy to read, in and of themselves.
This is a book that unfolds slowly, like new Spring leaves or roses on a perfect summer's day, but slowly is just right for Little, Big. Crowley conveys so many emotions in this book: joy, sorrow, loss, lust but most of all, love. By the time you reach the end, you come to a slow but perfect understanding of why the faeries' rejuvenation is so crucial. This is a beautiful and beautifully-told tale and one that lingers...like a lover's kiss or the end of that perfect summer's day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Big is a big hit!!!, Jan. 22 2004
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This review is from: Little Big (Paperback)
I really thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was totally lost in the whole story. The fairies, the talking fish, the many-sided house....
I am not a big fantasy book fan, but when I read this book I was fascinated. Just the thought of all that was happening and all the pictures in my head....I was lost in Crowley's world from page 1. My dad gave me this book to read and I loved it so much that he ended up giving it to me. I will treasure this book always and forever.
I recommend this book to all fantasy fans. This is a must read book. May you read it and get lost as I did!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More like a drug than a book..., Jan. 26 2000
This review is from: Little, Big (Paperback)
...reminds me in some ways of when MYST first came out, spending 3 days getting lost in it and figuring my way out -- when I resurfaced, the world was a different place for awhile. LITTLE, BIG is so intense, in so many directions at once, with such easy-natured reverence for the disparate literary and metaphysical traditions it weaves together... Only the end lets down. I felt like I'd been with a lover who was too selfish to finish me off. Raw deal and blueballs. Still, well worth the ride. Crowley's best book so far.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At Last: A TRUE Masterpiece of Late 20th century Fiction, Nov. 7 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Little Big (Paperback)
I first read 'Little,Big' in the late 1980s because I noticed the following fascinating pattern: amongst the most rigorous reviewers in places such as The Washington Post, NY Times, NY Review of Books, etc., every single review of certain books concluded with remarkably similar words, very much along the lines of: "[Such-&-such] is a fine book, but it just isn't 'Little,Big'." And one could almost hear the critic sighing palpably. And this happened again & again.
When combined with each critic also reminding us each time that 'Little,Big' has won ALL the significant awards - well, how could I not hie forth & read on?
READER BEWARE: 'Little,Big" is indeed a masterpiece, but many find they must give it at least 100 pages or so before they are firmly netted within the author's grasp & vision. Do yourself the favor therefore of giving it that 100-150 pp. of suspended judgement. It is more than worth the wait. By & by you will be thoroughly wrapped up in a world of masterful literary allusion & allegory. Crowley not only shape shifts through time & space: his Voice changes so deftly & attentively that - for instance - even mere handfuls of paragraphs refering to Mrs. Drinkwater's first vision of fairies is redolent with the inexplicable "sound" of Keats' 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'; the adventures of Sylvie & Bruno are similarly full of Carrollian allusion & texture; the observations of one non-specific (fairy or not?) key being, 'Mrs. Underwood", are worthy of a scout working overtime for Bollingen & Joseph Campbell.
More awe-inspiring yet, Crowley pulls you through mind-bogglingly deft changes in past/present, reality/"un"reality, et cetera; & so rapidly that your breath is, yes, truly taken gasping from your body. How often are masterpieces page-turners? How often are page-turners masterpieces? 'Little,Big: Or, The Fairies' Parliament" is just that. I can think of no other book deserving of this accolade in late 20th century fiction. "Let him follow love," counsels Grandfather Trout midway through this great good book. Let you, too, find love - & astonishing writing, vision & grasp - by snatching up a copy ASAP, and hanging in there until you are happily ensnared for life. You will not only not be sorry; you will be moved beyond words. I love all of Crowley's work, but on the astonishing strength of 'Little,Big" alone, John Crowley is my hero. I can say that of no other living novelist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It gets better every time you read it., Oct. 5 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: LITTLE, BIG (Mass Market Paperback)
By the time a friend lost my first copy of Little, Big it had gone out of print. I spent the next several years annoying my friends and family with my efforts to locate another copy. Eventually, another friend managed to find one for me. A year later, when the book was back in print, she gave me another copy, this one to lend out. This is a good system, although if you love this book as much as I do, you will simply want to buy copies for all your loved ones (at least the ones who read books).
The story of an (somewhat) ordinary man who marries into an extraordinary family, Little, Big is such an incredibly allusive work that every year when I go back to it I find new things to understand. And until I finish the complete works of Lewis Carroll, not to mention Shakespeare and god only knows what else, I can never truly finish this book. It is a rare book that can keep surprising you after ten years' worth of re-reading, but Little, Big manages to do just that, like a comfortingly familiar old friend who shows up every year or so with some delightful and surprising little gifts for you. It is beautifully, delicately written, and wholly captivating. You'll read it and wish you too could live at Edgewood with Smoky, Daily Alice and the rest of the Drinkwater family.
Read this book. And prepare to spend the rest of your life with it...happily ever after.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An achingly beautiful moebius strip of a fantasy novel, May 29 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Little, Big (Paperback)
I've read a lot of books in my life, and nothing I have ever read has affected me nearly as much as Little, Big. It was like reading a biography of all the things that had ever truly mattered to me. As I read it, I found myself crying at times because John Crowley had touched some intimate, secret part of me that I had never realized anyone else felt or believed. It's a modern fairy tale that so skillfully mixes fantasy and reality that you're never sure which is which, (just like real life). As you are swept along by the wonderful storyline, you are astonished when, like a moebius strip, it turns and meets itself going the other way; and like the mailmen delivering Smokey and Alice's letters that cross in the mail, you wave to yourself as you sail past. The discriptions of things are achingly detailed, so that the experience of reading it is truly like watching a movie, (or pehaps a dream). If this book affects you half as much as it did me, you're in for a ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait Of Our Lost Spiritual Legacy, July 28 2000
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This review is from: Little, Big (Paperback)
Forget the usual trappings of fantasy, this is a modern masterpiece centering on two of the greatest themes in world literature: faith and remembrance. It is a story of one family's messy struggle to retain wonder, fidelity and a type of ancient, earthy consciousness as the shadow of a cold, sterile modernity creeps over their world. The Drinkwaters' resistance is both resoundingly heroic and deeply tragic. The passage of time eventually disorients the younger generations of the family, whose members must find a way to believe in something they each knew instinctively as children but that becomes less vivid and more difficult to remember as they (and the family's history) grow. In a very real sense, it is the story of all our lives and Crowley is a master Sorcerer to have conjured up a Tale that serves us so well. This book is a wonder.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait Of Our Lost Spiritual Legacy, July 10 2000
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This review is from: Little, Big (Paperback)
Forget the usual trappings of fantasy, this is a modern masterpiece centering on two of the greatest themes in world literature: faith and remembrance. It is the story of one family's messy struggle to retain wonder, fidelity and a type of ancient, earthy consciousness as the shadow of a cold, sterile modernity creeps over their world. The Drinkwaters' resistance is both resoundingly heroic and deeply tragic. The passage of time eventually disorients the younger generations of the family, whose members must find a way to believe in something they each knew instinctively as children but that becomes less vivid and more difficult to remember as they (and the family's history) grow. In a very real sense, it is the story of all our lives and Crowley is a master Sorcerer to have conjured up a Tale that serves us so well. An amazing book.
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LITTLE, BIG
LITTLE, BIG by John Crowley (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 1 1983)
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