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The Giant's House: A Romance
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The Giant's House: A Romance

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  4,319 ratings  ·  565 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eve
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Kyli
**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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Rachel
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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Diana
"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
Cheryl
Reads better as a fantasy or an allegory, as at times the implausibility becomes a bit too much to take. I mean, James is no Kafka-esque beetle, but we don't really get to know what he is beyond his challenge. And the surname Sweatt - huh? And the beginning, in which we learn that Peggy is not a stereotypical librarian, contradicts the rest of the book, in which we learn that if she weren't this story could not have happened at all. Maybe that's a bit of 'unreliable narrator.' I dunno. It's just ...more
Stephanie Gross
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
Jeanette
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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David Abrams
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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Ginny
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
Peggy
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
Lisa
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
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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Liz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annette
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
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
Ben
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
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  Hay
Mar 17, 2008 Jenna Hay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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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Notcathy J
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."
Ayelet Waldman
I hadn’t read this in years and really loved it.
Martha
I never read romances - but I’d heard about this one years ago. quirky story of a librarian who falls in love with a youth half her age, and twice as tall. Really nice writing and imagery - "She had the voice of a dancer, I mean like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, someone who has such grae at another art that the grace suffuses their voice, which does not quite match the tune but instead strolls up to a note and stands right next to it, the slight difference so beautiful and heartbreaking that you ...more
Taryn Pierson
My local public library is doing a great promotion right now that encourages participants to read books either published or set in different decades within the last 100 years. Normally that's the kind of challenge I might shy away from—I gravitate strongly toward contemporary books, and my to-read list is mostly full of books written within the past few years. What can I say, I'm a creature of the moment.

Then I found out the finisher's prize is a tote bag, and I immediately started hunting for
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Adriane Devries
I’m not usually one for romance, but Elizabeth McCracken’s gently lyric and humorous writing won me over in The Giant’s House. Set in beautiful Cape Cod in the 1950’s, her protagonist, a spinsterish librarian in her twenties, falls in love with a boy, James, who he is no mere boy. He is seven feet tall (and still growing), handsome and shy, and loves to read. They bond over Dewey’s decimal system as she learns to cull only the best books from her collection to suit his interests, but the exact n ...more
M
I debated between three and four stars for several days. I've tried to use the GoodReads rating system "per book" and not have on a rating for one book relate to a rating for another book, since 1-5 is a narrow rating scale. Thus, not all threes are equal. For certain, not all fives are equal.

This book is very well written and I underlined many phrases and sentences that I want to revisit. I usually note the page numbers of passages I want to note; when I finish reading the book I transcribe tho
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Dennis Fischman
I resisted reading this book for a long time, because a love affair between a thirty-ish librarian and a teenage boy seemed creepy, even if he was twice her height. I should have trusted Elizabeth McCracken. This former Somerville, MA librarian-turned-author loves odd people, and relationships that seem offbeat to other people but completely normal to themselves. (This is ironic for the author of a book that begins with the words, "I do not love mankind.") She bring her characters into your hear ...more
Stacy
This was an all-around weird reading experience for me. I heard it was a good read, so I overlooked the odd plot description of a crusty librarian who lives in Cape Cod and falls in love with a teenage giant.

Looking back now that I have finished the book, I have pinpointed two facts that made the bizarre story less original in my eyes. First, the detached, unemotional and cool tone/writing style struck me as very similar to "The Shipping News" (published 3 years prior to this novel). Second, the
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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...
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination Thunderstruck & Other Stories Niagara Falls All Over Again Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry Something Amazing - short story in Zoetrope: All-Story, Spring 2008

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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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