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Giant

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,197 ratings  ·  129 reviews
This sweeping tale captures the essence of Texas on a staggering scale as it chronicles the life and times of cattleman Jordan "Bick" Benedict, his naive young society wife, Leslie, and three generations of land-rich sons. A sensational story of power, love, cattle barons, and oil tycoons, Giant was the basis of the classic film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and R...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 22nd 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1952)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,285)
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Corinne
I finished this sweeping novel of Texas while on an airplane, bound for my first visit to that great state. I had earlier sent a call out to my friends, asking what one should read before one's first trip to Texas, and when I saw that this suggestion was written by the author of So Big, a novel I loved, I knew I'd found a winner.

I was right.

Giant is absolutely a tale of Texas in the earlier part of this century, shortly after the Great War. It's a tale of ranches and cattle, dust and mesquite, M...more
Anna
This story is about TEXAS. Everything is big in TEXAS. In TEXAS we do things differently, and it's like a whole other country. TEXANS are like no other people. People not from TEXAS couldn't possibly understand what it means to be from TEXAS. Did I mention TEXAS? Okay, I'm done now. I did feel like I was being beaten over the head with it, though. I would actually give this two and a half stars. I enjoyed the book more than I would have thought possible at the beginning. The first four chapters...more
Ann Herrick
I've seen the movie several times on TV and read Cimarron years ago and liked it, so decided it was time to read Giant.

For me, this is one case where the movie is better than the book.

While it deals with some serious issues, racism being one, mostly it reads like a cross between an encyclopedia and a tour-guide book about Texas. There are pages and pages going on about the history of Texas, breeding cattle, Texas, Mexican workers, Texas, etc., then a few paragraphs where something actually happe...more
Christopher MacMillan
I've want to read this for years, so I'm happy I finally got around to it. Edna Ferber's sprawling epic concerns 25 years of married life between liberal-minded Leslie and conservative Jordan Benedict, and how as they watch the world changing around them, they find themselves changing too. And it all takes place on the overwhelming landscape of Texas, to which this book is both a condemnation and a love letter.



The novel explores the relationships of many things over the quarter-century time peri...more
Lee Anne
Outstanding. I have a feeling there will be a few packages from www.abebooks.com heading to my house, with Edna Ferber books inside.

The film version of Giant has been one of my favorite movies since high school, when I was in my James Dean phase/TBS frequently showed it of a Sunday afternoon. I think I even read the book back then, but reading a book in high school and reading it as an adult are two very different experiences.

Edna Ferber's writing is so different from what I've been reading late...more
Jayne
This classic is slow starting read. Part of that is the thought of Texas itself, and part is the character development, which develops only through actions of the characters throughout the book.

The story is told by the actions and curious run on sentences of the characters. The main character, Leslie, is a strong minded woman brought up by her Doctor father to think for herself and do the right thing. When she meets her future Texas big money husband, the sparks fly, and oddly they both seem to...more
Halley
I really liked this book! I have a habit of randomly selecting books from the library and hoping they aren't duds. This one appealed to me because it was a female author of the 50's. The beginning is a little slow, but it picks up quite a bit and the last 100 pages are incredible.

I am a Yankee and I have never stepped foot in Texas, but I thought this book was way ahead of its time. Throughout I was thinking, "How did Texans react to this?". It must have caused a stir when it came out. I loved...more
Mariah
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Ferber's Pulitzer prize-winning "So Big," I was excited to begin this one. The book "Giant" was a quick and very enjoyable read and did not disappoint this eager reader. The story takes place in Texas around the time of the Depression and World War II. I found the story to be very captivating and the imagery wonderfully vivid. Just hearing about the scalding heat that the characters experienced made me feel hot! :)
It was easy to get lost in this story and as I...more
Philip
Edna Ferber isn't particularly well-known today, although she enjoyed a long run as a popular novelist: SO BIG (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), SHOW BOAT (which became the basis of the famous and beloved musical, CIMARRON, upon which was based the 1931 Academy Award-winning Best Picture, SARATOGA TRUNK, GIANT, and ICE PALACE. She was also a successful playwright who collaborated on THE ROYAL FAMILY, DINNER AT EIGHT, and STAGE DOOR.

If Ferber's name means anything today, its probably due to the suc...more
Suzanne
Blows the movie out of the water. It's a much more cogent, penetrating, and pessimistic critique of Texas, and American, society and culture. One might almost call it cynical. The characters are much more sharply drawn, without the Hollywood softening to make them more acceptable to Peoria. The women aren't quite as beautiful and the men are not nearly as heroic.
The social critique of the founding of Texas is presented in greater detail and depth than in the film, and the treatment of the Mexica...more
Jana
Giant is a book that ages well. (This is my second time to read it and it's better now than then.) I don't doubt the outrage that Texans felt when it was published in 1952. The racism was (and in many places still is) an accepted institution and we didn't want to have anyone, much less a Yankee, point that out. Oh well... times change. Or not. I know that the culture of Giant didn't really exist, but there's enough truth in the details to make it valuable for anyone who is curious about the coun...more
Jeanne
Jan 07, 2008 Jeanne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
This is a good classic. It has drama, humor, romance, kept my interest. I read it when I was in high school. I learned some about prejudice, and overcoming of that; how money can hurt as well as help. The young woman falls for the sexy bad boy rich man, (who I wanted, too), but sees in the end that he doesn't have true strength of character and is not good for her. She also found that her parents were wiser than she thought.
Lindsay Loughlin
I recently went to the opening of the musical production of Giant and received a free a copy of the book. I had never heard of the author and later read that she was considered one of the best female writers of her generation. Compared to the dark novels I normally read, this was breath of fresh air. A little Texas history mixed with love, life, wealth and ranching.
Allie
Truly amazing and exactly the kind of book that I love -- sprawling and epic. I did have some trouble with getting a frame of reference for the time period though. I couldn't get my head around the fact that things were taking place during the 50's and 60's. But then again, maybe that was the point.
Elderberrywine
Apparently I am now a total Edna Ferber fangirl. And I am starting to see a general trend. Female protagonist, thrown into a new and unexpected mileau, which she hates and loves to an equal extent.

I must admit to not having seen the movie, but I suspect the Jett Rink/James Dean character had a far greater role in the movie than the book. Let's just say he fulfilled a different function in the book than I thought he would, and I am perfectly OK with that, because he was by no means the most inter...more
Joe
I think this book is a good explanation of why nobody outside of Texas likes Texans much.
Emiliann
WOW. I mean WOW.

I read this for school, and hands down its the best school book I've ever read, and possibly one of the best books, period.

This sweeping tale captures twenty five years in the life of Leslie Benedict (née Lynnton), a naive Virginian who marries Jordan "Bick" Benedict, a Texas cattle rancher. The two are madly in love, but are at odds throughout the story, due to differences such as treatment of Mexicans and women, to name a few.

I'm terrible at summarizing, so just take my word...more
David
To capture the immense span of Texas, Ferber wants to strip the commas from her prose, so that her arms may spread all the wider. It's a risky stylistic choice that I like:


Downstairs and upstairs, inside and out, on awnings carpets couches chairs desks rugs; towels linen; metal cloth wood china glass, the brand JR was stamped etched emroidered embossed woven painted inlaid. (ch. 4)


The structure of this big novel of social themes, gently satiric about lifestyles of the Texas rich and baldly indig...more
Cheryl
Oct 08, 2014 Cheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cheryl by: Suzanne
Shelves: classics, adultlit
I enjoyed this book a lot. The main characters were well-rounded and interesting, and their interactions, especially those between Leslie and Bick, were very believable--a deeply thought-through portrait of a longtime marriage. I also liked the structure of the plot, which circles back to the first chapter, essentially asking you to reread it knowing the characters' backstory. Having Leslie as the newcomer to Texas allows the reader who knows zip about Texas history (such as myself), get up to s...more
Casey
Giant is a long, close look at the state of Texas between the 1930’s and 1950’s, when the book was written. In it, Virginian socialite Leslie Lynnton, outgoing, pretty, and intelligent, falls in love with Jordan Benedict, a rich Texas rancher, when he comes to visit her family on business. The book chronicles the beginning of their marriage, as Leslie observes and attempts to adjust to life in Texas, and Texas high-society attempts to adjust to her. The novel begins and closes with scenes taking...more
Adam K.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly
I had no idea what to expect when I started this book, but I really didn't think it would be the kind of book that I would leave work and refuse to do anything, not even sleep, until I finished it (which is exactly what happened last night). So needless to say, this book was a pleasant surprise.

I think I spent so much of my college career lost in the Victorian period and European literature in general that I forgot how amazing American literature is too. Ferber's writing is certainly different....more
Monica
It was a good book if you think about the era in which it was written. This novel tells the story of the history of Texas through the eyes of an outsider who marries into a wealthy Texas cattle ranching family. I expected the story would have events happen to the main characters, but instead, events and customs were discussed more than events actually happening. I thought this was supposed to be more of a sweeping family saga. Instead, the bulk of the story happens over a few weeks' time. It see...more
Suzanne Moore
In “Giant”, Leslie moves to the BIG state of Texas as a new bride. She is a Virginian, raised proper on an old plantation. The rancher’s lifestyle is certainly different than what she is used to. Leslie’s husband, Bick, is on a power trip and lives for hard work. His dream is to produce the finest stock of beef cattle ever. Although Leslie has periods of homesickness she never tires of learning about the history of Texas, and the people who live there. She sees many things wrong with the way Bic...more
Susan
I first read Giant when I was in high school. I took it from my mother's bookshelf one day when I was bored, and I didn't close the book until I was finished. Was it real Texas? Probably not? It was loosely based on the opening of the Shamrock Hotel in Houston in the Fifties when movies stars and all kinds of dignitaries flew in for the gala of all galas, but that was only part of this huge book. Most of it is focused on the fictional Reata Ranch that probably was located somewhere west/southwes...more
Richard Palmer
Giant is full of conflicts and contrasting influences.

There is the eastern woman dropped into the radically different culture of
Texas. There is the contrast between rich white landowners and poor hispanic
laborers. There is the confrontation between oil and cattle, between Benedict
and Rink, between sister in law and wife.

With all these dramatic contrasts, I was somewhat disappointed in the lack
of resolution. It seems that Ferber, rather than laying out a plot with
conflicts, build-up, and resolut...more
Dian Hansen
Even though I had seen the movie years ago, I had never read the book. I was intrigued when my book club chose it and was thoroughly surprised when I actually read it. I don't remember much about he movie except that it was "Big Hollywood." To me, the book was the complete opposite. Ferber's social commentary and philosophizing through the character of Leslie made this a much deeper and more meaningful story than the movie portrayed. I really can't imagine the Leslie of the book being portrayed...more
Heather Mize
Giant is a great book about the hard life of a Texas Cattle rancher. Leslie marries Bic and leaves behind Virginia to come to his native Texas only to find mesquite trees, and miles of sand. There are hard times for Leslie, and for Bic and his family. Out of the dust comes oil and Reata Ranch is booming, but controversy follows. Ferber wrote this book after spending time in Texas, and while I believe it is a true depiction of eccentric Texans (I'm a native Texan) it infuriated Texans at the time...more
Heather
Giant by Edna Ferber is a fabulous story about Texas that shows characters with firm resistance to change, who ignore big issues, and who restrict those they love from being who they really are. This book also shows the effects of going into marriage with unrealistic expectations for the other person, and the destructive consequences of totalitarian control of others.
Snogged
I'll admit this classic had a slow start to it, but I didn't think it took too long for the story to pick up. This is most definitely a tale about Texas and the sprawling empire of a couple of cowhands with millions of acres of lands. One cowhand in particular is "Bick" Benedict, the man who came to Virginia to see a horse, and came back to Texas with a horse and a liberal-minded wife named Leslie.

I really loved Leslie's character and the strength that she brought to her ideals. I could picture...more
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Edna Ferber was an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her novels were popular in her lifetime and included the Pulitzer Prize-winning So Big (1924), Show Boat (1926; made into the celebrated 1927 musical), Cimarron (1929; made into the 1931 film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), and Giant (1952; made into the 1956 Hollywood movie).
More about Edna Ferber...
So Big Show Boat Saratoga Trunk Cimarron Fanny Herself

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“Whoever said love conquers all was a fool. Because almost everything conquers love - or tries to.” 10 likes
“I never go to weddings. Waste of time. Person can get married a dozen times. Lots of folks do. Family like ours, know everybody in the state of Texas and around outside, why, you could spend your life going to weddings. But a funeral, that's different. You only die once.” 6 likes
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