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The Giant's House: A Romance

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  5,387 Ratings  ·  710 Reviews
Named one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists by Granta magazine, Elizabeth McCracken is a writer of fabulous gifts. "The Giant's House," her first novel, is an unforgettably tender and quirky novel about the strength of choosing to love in a world that offers no promises, and no guarantees.

The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian

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Paperback, 290 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Avon Books (first published June 1st 1996)
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Beverly Jean It is not not creepy, it is about a relationship that forms of necessity for each of them and grows. The woman is stunted emotionally and the boy is…moreIt is not not creepy, it is about a relationship that forms of necessity for each of them and grows. The woman is stunted emotionally and the boy is growing too tall too fast and knows he will not live beyond a young age. They both learn to live outside of the restrictions of their lives through each other. They develop a love relationship yes but you soon realize age is just a number in their unique relationship. I hope you have read the book by now and loved it as much as I did.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Eve
May 15, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, read-2014
This is one of the strangest, loveliest books I've read thus far. Staring at my hardcover edition lying on my coffee table, I realize why it I purchased it in the first place. It has a simple bright orange dustjacket, and it stands taller and narrower than its shelf counterparts–no doubt a tribute to the larger than life protagonist of this novel.

Peggy Cort is a twenty-six-year-old librarian in a small Cape Cod town in 1950. When she meets James Sweatt, a "tall" eleven-year-old boy (and still gr
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Alison
Oct 31, 2008 Alison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the book is undeniably well-written, I couldn't like the main character much. A lonely woman who falls in love with the young giant James Sweatt when he is eleven (!) failed to capture my sympathy. The book just seemed to be missing some spark of life, its passion seeming narrow and melancholy. It didn't help that Peggy makes it clear early on that James isn't going to survive. And the ending seemed purely unnecessary and improbable.
Sarah
Apr 18, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting to like this book. I'm into dreamy romanticism, not "wry humor," not stark, unadorned realism. But, I love this book.

I love the cynical, obviously (but not stereotypically) autistic narrator. I love the metaphors and archetypes. I love the astute commentary on prejudice, on relationships, on the rigidity of social norms. I even love the photograph of Elizabeth McCracken, looking nervous and awkward, with frizzy hair and red, sullen lips. (Not like the prim, pastel authoress yo
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Von
Oct 06, 2008 Von rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Peole who love love. People who love giants. Librarians ...
This is still one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. Elizabeth McCracken's style of writing is really beautiful. She has an unapologetic way of presenting a person's deepest innermost flaws, while simultaneously giving you every opportunity to fall in love with them. I fell in love with the main characters in this book, over and over again. I gave this book to a friend and bought myself another copy, which I've referred repeatedly. I don't know that I plan to read it again, but I can't imag ...more
Rachel
Sep 07, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: depressing, unique
Dear Peggy, I did not have fun in your head. Let's not do this again. Sincerely, Rachel.

If you have been searching high and low for a book that tells the unfulfilling love story between a morose librarian and a boy with gigantism half her age who she's known since he was 12, then LOOK NO FURTHER. And, as you can see from my rating, the librarian is not the only person who left this book unfulfilled.

I don't want to hate on this book too much, though, because it's really unique and the author is
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Kyli
Jul 01, 2012 Kyli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
**spoiler alert

Before I say anything else, I have to say that Elizabeth McCracken is a literary ballerina - she is in love with words and her use of them could not be more graceful or defined. The Giant's House is written in first person and I get the feeling that many of the thoughts & opinions are her own. Her intellect and wisdom had me reading and rereading sentences because many of them were so deep, so meaningful that they deserved a minute or more of reflection a piece.

Other reviewer
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Diana
May 20, 2008 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Space is the chief problem. Books are a bad family-there are those you love, and those you are indifferent o; idiots and mad cousins who you would banish except others enjoy their company; wrongheaded but fascinating eccentrics and dreamy geniuses; orphaned grandchildren; and endless brothers-in-law simply taking up space who you wish you could send straight to hell. Except you can't, for the the most part. You must house them and make them comfortable and worry about them when they go on trips ...more
Stephanie
I am addicted. From the moment I began reading (I'm only on page 35), I was hooked. Lock, stock and barrel. Wow! Perhaps it's the time of year. Perhaps it's the stunning freshness of style, compassion for her topic, perception of life, dexterous use of metaphor, imagery, irony and humor. I underline, annotate, circle on and on her aphorism, truths about single women, truths about librarians, truths about favorite patrons and the need to be needed. The need to impart, share, and advise patrons in ...more
Peggy
Mar 14, 2014 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
All it took was someone else to mention this book for me to have to take it from my shelf to re-read. I tend to buy books when I know they are 5 star as GoodReads would have it. Librarian who doesn't like people, a description of someone's buttocks as wide as an open dictionary. My opinion of Elizabeth McCracken's genius here is well-known to all my non-virtual friends. James and Peggy are both remarkable characters. I could continue but why waste time reading this when you could be having your ...more
David Abrams
May 06, 2012 David Abrams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of the novel The Giant’s House reads like it was ripped from the headlines of a supermarket tabloid: LIBRARIAN WEDS GIANT! It’s No TALL TALE! See page 13 for the Big Shocking Details!

While it’s true that Elizabeth McCracken’s novel is built around sensationalism and while it’s also true that the spinster librarian weds the world’s tallest man, it’s also true that this is one of the oddest, sweetest romances you’ll ever read.

Nominated for the National Book Award in 1996, The Giant’s H
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Jeanette
Jan 10, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow this highly unlikely bond between the two main characters is clearly drawn by this author. It was a story I would seldom choose or connect to (feel) if given the basic plot beforehand. I just knew it was about a librarian and a library patron. And to be truthful, I didn't like Peggy much at any point in the first half. But she did come off as honest in her bleakness and levels of disinterest.

But somehow the tale melded to an extraordinary degree. By Part 3, I did not find the progress o
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Liz
Jun 06, 2012 Liz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristie
I read this book because Ann Patchett mentioned it as one of her favorite books. Having liked Bel Canto by Ann Patchett a great deal, l was intrigued by what book had an influence on her. The Giant's House is a very odd story - written with a strange dispassion. I was slightly put off with the voice of the narrator which was more like a newspaper than a raconteur - as though the events were being reported rather than "told". However, the story does build and it is impossible not to be curious ab ...more
Ginny
Aug 06, 2010 Ginny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I picked this book to read because I read somewhere that an author I liked (can’t remember which one) recommended it as a great love story - a favorite of theirs. It was also a National Book Award finalist. How bad could it be? Well, after forcing myself to finish this book, I can honestly say it was one of the strangest stories I’ve read. In my opinion, it is definitely not a romance story. The love was one sided and oddly inappropriate. The main character is a thirty something librarian who fa ...more
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
This is a romance between a young librarian and a giant 14 years her junior. It is a character-driven story, but also well plotted and riveting. McCracken is, at least in this book, a gifted storyteller. There are so many places that her creativity almost startles you - a gem of insight into a character or relationship, a plot element that is unexpected but just the right thing. Its wry humor contrasts with the tragedies of the librarian's discomfort with herself and the effect of the genetic di ...more
Kirsty
Aug 03, 2016 Kirsty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
The Giant’s House is told in retrospect from the first person perspective of librarian Peggy Cort. Thirty-five years after her story begins, Peggy is looking back on her life. From the outset, Peggy’s narrative voice is original and startling in places. She is such a charismatic, likeable narrator. Her narrative voice certainly has a distinctive style and is simultaneously chatty and eloquent, allowing the reader to be absorbed into her world from the outset. The novel addresses the audience as ...more
Lisa
Aug 03, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was entertaining, and I really liked the author's writing style (use of words). But I didn't like the main character. And while the author says it's a romance, it certainly didn't feel like a romance to me.

While the main character says she's in love with "the giant", it seems to me more like motherly love than romantic love. I know there is a huge age difference, but it still seemed like a very odd sort of love. If she truly had a romantic love, it seems
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Carly Svamvour
Jan 15, 2010 Carly Svamvour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an engaging story. As the pages turned, there were no times when I had to stop and think - oh! What does that mean, anyway? The author laid the story out in a chronological manner, with no reason for the reader to have special knowledge of any particular part of the world, its people, its cultures, politics or social mores.

It was refreshing to read something with straight-forward, ordinary characters everyone could identify with.

There was a young giant, his relationship with a
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Bookslut
Nov 17, 2016 Bookslut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oddball
McCracken is a brilliant writer, though sometimes over-careful in this book. If every sentence is exquisitely, meticulously crafted, the mind has nowhere to rest. I think you need some boring old regular sentences mixed in to let a book breathe. That's a small critique though. The pace, which lagged a little in the first half (so careful) was much improved in the second half, and I read compulsively through the second part of the book. I loved the notion of it; the giant, the librarian, Cape Cod ...more
Annette
Apr 22, 2013 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken is about a librarian who forms a friendship with an overly tall boy. She calls it love, and it is a love story. But a different kind of love. It’s not the sordid sort that makes you cringe. It’s not about an older teacher-type woman taking advantage of a younger student. This is a touching tale about Peggy Cort and James Sweatt. Peggy is a single woman others would call a spinster. But that word conjures up images of a bitter, lonely woman, which she defi ...more
Linda Lipko
Because Anne Hoffman is one of my favorite aughors, this book worked for me because the author's writing is akin to Hoffman's style.

To enjoy the book, I think you need to dispel pragmatic realism and let go of some practicality. This is a story of a young mid twenty year old librarian in a small Cape Cod town. A loner and introvert, books are her friends. She lives alone and loves the library so much that it seems to be her second home. When twelve year old James enters the library, her life is
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Ben
Apr 24, 2009 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth McCracken has a sincere love of sentences, and one need only read the first paragraph of The Giant's House to understand how the romance of this book is grammatically based. Admittedly, something out of the ordinary would have to be going on to keep most readers engrossed in a budding romance between a young boy with gigantism and a pseudo-spinster librarian; at first, I had dreams I was in for a gender/height-bending redux on Lolita... Nevertheless, the narrative turned far more chick ...more
Virginia
Apr 23, 2009 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often times it seems like the writers who can create the best sentences don't create the best stories, and that writers who have extraordinary stories, don't necessarily have the craft down. McCracken manages both, though it is her writing, more than her characters, that stays with me.

That said, the writing does make me whole-heartedly believe in McCracken's characters, specifically Peggy, the narrator. Her voice never strays and I never found myself questioning her actions. I may not have under
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Jenna  Wolfstone
Mar 12, 2008 Jenna Wolfstone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a good cry
What I like about this book: untraditional love story; love and loss; tragedy; loneliness; social outcasts.

A young librarian's sympathy for an 11-year-old boy with giantism turns into an earnest love. At the heart of the story is the concept that we each have our afflictions---some more obvious than others (giantism vs shyness)---but all impact lives equally.

For me, I am especially touched by this; I suppose this is a result of working with people with both mental and physical disabilities. Lo
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Shanda
Dec 09, 2008 Shanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book get three stars because it was such a different kind of romance that I am used to reading. A spinster librarian falls in love with a boy about 15 years younger than her who is a giant - over 8 feet tall and growing.

The book was pretty slow for the first half - almost 100 pages of Peggy dwelling on her lonely life and hopeless love for a boy so young. When James is finally old enough, the few pages of them expressing their love in such awkward ways is very sweet.

The Giant's House is a
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Ursa
Honestly, all the stars go to the story-crafting. If I was to rate it based on my enjoyment, there would be none. The book is absolutely well-written, but too disturbing for me to claim that I've enjoyed it; it's brought the theme of "obsession" to a new height.
Joseph
Jul 04, 2010 Joseph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A short book that is strangely arbitrary and repetitive, with a main character whose voice is grating and a style that wanders from lyrical to strangely dull and mundane. I'm mystified by the praise this has received; it's just not very good.
Jennifer Daniel
Oct 29, 2008 Jennifer Daniel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: book club selection
Creepy, and not in a good way. The librarian seemed more borderline pedophile than love interest with the giant. And there is one passage about his rotten nasty feet that caused me to dry heave.
Ayelet Waldman
Mar 23, 2014 Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn’t read this in years and really loved it.
Notcathy J
Jun 14, 2007 Notcathy J rated it did not like it
Cathy has written, "sad in a corny, self-pitying way, and limited. Not for nothing is she compared to Tyler and Irving on the back cover."
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Elizabeth McCracken (born 1966) is an American author. She is married to the novelist Edward Carey, with whom she has two children - August George Carey Harvey and Matilda Libby Mary Harvey. An earlier child died before birth, an experience which formed the basis for McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.

McCracken, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was born in
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More about Elizabeth McCracken...

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“I had never wanted to be one of those girls in love with boys who would not have me. Unrequited love - plain desperate aboveboard boy-chasing - turned you into a salesperson, and what you were selling was something he didn't want, couldn't use, would never miss. Unrequited love was deciding to be useless, and I could never abide uselessness.

Neither could James. He understood. In such situations, you do one of two things - you either walk away and deny yourself, or you do sneaky things to get what you need. You attend weddings, you go for walks. You say, yes. Yes, you're my best friend, too.”
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“Books remember all the things you cannot contain.” 29 likes
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