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Giant

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,583 Ratings  ·  163 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
Hardcover, First Edition, First Printing, 447 pages
Published 1952 by Garden City: Doubleday
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carol
When cattleman Jordan "Bick" Benedict travels to Virginia to purchase a horse, he returns home to Texas with a naive tart-tongued young bride as well. With sweltering heat, a husband that works like a cowhand, and an evil old-maid sister-in-law to contend with, Leslie enters a nightmare of a new lifestyle finding some shameful abuses to Mexican humanity, and a BBQ menu from hell (calf brains served in the head.....ewwwww!) and that's just the start.

This old western classic is a Giant of a good r

...more
Robert
This supposedly Sweeping Texas Family Saga would actually be more accurately described as an anthropological look at the Lone Star State in the first half of the 20th century and the large changes wrought there by the gradual shift from an agriculturally based economy to that of an oil-based one. (Yeah, I know - "Sweeping Family Saga" is much more bite-sized and digestible, isn't it.) The heroine is a free-thinking liberal from Virginia while her Texas born-and-raised rancher husband is at heart ...more
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
Jan 09, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Betsy
Feb 14, 2016 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ferber is incredibly adept at observing relationships. In Giant, the marriage of larger-than-life Texas rancher Bick Benedict and Virginia socialite Leslie Lynnton is the central relationship, with their friends, families, children, and ranch workers spinning around them and intertwining. The novel begins building up to an incident when Bick and Leslie are middle-aged, then goes back to recount their meeting, whirlwind courtship and marriage, and disorienting first days in Texas. Bick and Leslie ...more
Lee Anne
Jun 14, 2010 Lee Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-author
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
Mar 03, 2008 Jayne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Moira Downey
I'm struggling with Giant and So Big. Giant immediately feels like an author who has really expanded her craft; it's more formally experimental and takes greater liberty with language than its predecessor. And she's tackling some thorny philosophical issues surrounding class, race and citizenship in America that resonant especially loudly in the present political climate. Unfortunately, it becomes a rather pedantic mediation on TEXAS and WHAT TEXAS IS and WHAT TEXAS MEANS that is quickly weariso ...more
Lesley
Oct 14, 2015 Lesley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to the ACCC. I bought this novel expecting an "epic inter-generational family saga, sweeping across the vast Texan plains" as advertised. Instead I got a primer on the great state of Texas. The reader, personified by our delicate naïve Eastern bride Leslie asks the questions and her big bold Texian husband Bick, lord of the immense Reata ranch acreage answers:

"'Oh Jordan, I wish we could live up here in the mountains. I wish we could stay up here and Uncle Bawley could run Reata. Could
...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
Adam K.
Aug 08, 2010 Adam K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Halley
Aug 19, 2012 Halley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2012 Mariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Philip
Apr 21, 2011 Philip rated it liked it
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
Sandi Banks
Jan 31, 2015 Sandi Banks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edna Ferber was a favorite author when I was a high school and college student. I had never read Giant and still feel that Ferber tells a great story. The book was somewhat hard to capture my interest when I began. Once chapter five began and Leslie and Bick first met and fell in love, I was hooked! The setting of Texas during the first half of the twentieth century was fascinating. I watched the movie after I read the book. The movie was well acted, but the book made the characters more multidi ...more
Terrie Dehaan
Jul 17, 2015 Terrie Dehaan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've reread this book several times and it always makes me cry. Texas, West, Texas, will always be my home. Ferber's words immortalized the true mortality of what it means to be blessed enough to be a part of the Lone Star State. I've always wanted to be a part of a group that breaks down the text into a book study. It would be interesting to see which character everyone connects with the most.
Bonnie
Mar 25, 2016 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read this classic and it came to my attention when watching a BBC series, A Place to call home, where one of the main characters is engrossed in this novel while on her honeymoon. I had heard of it, of course and had seen the movie many years ago. The book is quite interesting and a page turner with great characters and it holds up well. I can only imagine the sensation it caused when it came out. Texans had to be livid. I do wish the ending was more finished but then when would a stor ...more
Suzanne
Jul 11, 2011 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
LobsterQuadrille
Mar 25, 2016 LobsterQuadrille rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only to a diehard Edna Ferber fan
Having recently read and enjoyed So Big, one of Edna Ferber's earlier novels, I was really hoping to like Giant. Unfortunately, though it has its good points, this later book was very disappointing. I had a lot of different observations and thoughts about Giant, so perhaps it will be easiest to list them for this review:

Good Things about Giant:

- The first three chapters were good; the writing was excellent and the characters as they were introduced seemed interesting.
- I do appreciate the them
...more
Cheryl
Feb 14, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a used book sale several years ago and it has been sitting in a case since then. Why did I wait so long?? I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Edna Ferber's style required a bit of adjustment, but once I got past that I found myself enjoying her methods and slowing down to savor the language. As one reviewer noted the lack of commas just takes some getting used to.

The novel starts with a few chapters in a current time period, then jumps back 20+ years to the story leading up to tha
...more
Charlie
Feb 15, 2015 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literazzi
3.5 stars. The last half I couldn't put it down, although the beginning feels disjointed, starting at the end then going back to the beginning. I wonder why the author decided to structure it that way. Maybe if you started with Bick's trip to "ole Virginny" it reads flat? It reminds me of that Elton John song that was so boring, then they added the live audience track in the background and it was a hit. One little switcharoo changes the whole feel of it.
Jeanne
Jan 07, 2008 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2012 Lindsay Loughlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dr.J.G.
Kaleidoscopic in its juxtaposition of various factors - the delicate and yet strong woman from Virginia and her shocks at meeting Texas ranchers and their society, the social stratifications in the two places out of step with rules of behaviour, the state of natives of the land and the migrants from across a border in a state acquired by force and more as the young woman in Virginia informs the Texan rancher before he is enchanted with her, the poor foreman who strikes oil and is wealthier than ...more
Sandra Cappello
I loved this story! Being a Native Texan may have influenced my enjoyment--What Texan can't relate when they talk about shopping at Neiman Marcus, visiting the Alamo, or marrying a good looking rich cowboy. It is an epic love story--love at first sight. A girl must learn to love Texas if she is going to keep loving her rancher husband.

There are valuable life lessons to be learned from this novel. The reader is forced to confront social injustice, acceptance, and change and reflect upon these in
...more
Priscilla
Jul 07, 2015 Priscilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being from Texas and having seen the movie several times over the years, I finally got around to reading the book. Giant is an epic novel spanning about 25 years during roughly the first half of the 20th century. Perhaps a bit exaggerated at times, Ferber nonetheless paints a colorful picture of the Lone Star State and the challenges faced by the protagonists and by Texans alike. The treatment of the Mexican-Americans as depicted in the book and movie is hard to swallow, but it seems to be a fai ...more
Allie
Aug 19, 2010 Allie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Graceann
Nov 30, 2007 Graceann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I didn't enjoy this as much as I did So Big - I guess I just couldn't get into the mystical life of cattle rearing and oil drills in the heart of Texas. I found it hard to care about the characters and I was ready for the novel to end long before it actually did.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Giant 1 4 Jul 08, 2012 04:29PM  
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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...

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“Whoever said love conquers all was a fool. Because almost everything conquers love - or tries to.” 12 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.” 8 likes
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