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The Giant's House

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  6,801 ratings  ·  860 reviews
The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt–the “over-tall” eleven-year-old boy who’s the talk of the town–walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd can ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (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 g…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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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,801 ratings  ·  860 reviews

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Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Poem for a Librarian
Although her love for me is infinitesimal,
Her eyes are as Dewey as any old decimal.

The plot is simple, and wonderfully strange - a librarian, a woman used to being ignored, and taken for granted:

Nevertheless, I was the town librarian - less a woman that a piece of civic furniture, like a polling machine at town hall, or a particularly undistinguished WPA mural . . .

. . . falls hard for a young, book-loving boy who suffers from gigantism.

I did not love him like a b
Oct 31, 2008 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. ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, own
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
Apr 18, 2011 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
Sep 07, 2011 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
Oct 06, 2008 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
Jul 01, 2012 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 reviewers me
Jun 06, 2012 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.
May 20, 2008 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
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 14, 2014 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
Jan 10, 2015 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
Vincent Scarpa
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“But you cannot fly away from people who have flown away from you; you cannot fly into your own arms...Once you have been left you are always left; you cannot leave your leaving.”
David Abrams
May 06, 2012 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
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken is the story of Peggy Cort’s obsession—some might call it love—with James Sweatt, a young boy whose pituitary gland is out of sync, causing him to grow unnaturally until he is over 8 feet tall.

It is the 1950s and Peggy, a very lonely twenty-six-year old librarian with no social life, focuses her attention on maintaining a clean, orderly, and organized library. Every aspect of her life has to be tidy and in its proper place. Her social interactions are li
Celeste Ng
I read this years ago but just came back to re-read it again. It's a quirky, bittersweet love story, and McCracken does such a good job of imagining her way into both the giant's body and the mind, and voice, of the woman who loves him. Lovely, sad, weird, and warm all at once. ...more
Aug 03, 2016 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
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully imagined and totally unconventional tale of love in a small-town Cape Cod setting wherein a young man meets the town librarian. The young man James grows to be the tallest man ever, but his needs are faithfully tended to by the librarian. Bizarre, you may ask? Yes, perhaps a bit.

I do love libraries and have just visited the Provincetown Library as well as the Chatham Library on Cape Cod, so this may have helped me accept this story in a more open way.
Nov 17, 2016 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
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
Aug 06, 2010 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I heard this recommended on a Podcast (I thought it was Recommended, but I am not finding it there) and was delighted when I discovered it at a used book store. However, the uncomfortableness of the Giant and the narrator meeting when he was 11 and her considering, in her telling, that she became enamored of him at that time, to be too uncomfortable to settle in to the love story. ...more
Ronald Lett
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ronald by: Jes
Shelves: dramatic-fiction
This is one of the most unique voices I have ever read. Even if you're not really a romance reader, I'm pretty sure everyone would enjoy this author's work. They have perfect command of metaphor and description, and they have frequent, extremely descriptive insights on love and loneliness. I would pick up more of this author's work without question. ...more
Aug 03, 2009 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
Carly Svamvour
Jan 15, 2010 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
Apr 22, 2013 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
Coleman Ridge
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about what you do when you need to love but are no good at it. Specifically, it is about loving one person in different, incompatible ways, because that person is all you have, and because one person is about as many people as you can stand. More specifically, it is about a grown woman loving a child both romantically and as a child.

This is very hot, volatile material, and anyone writing about it is standing very close to Dosteyevsky and Nabokov, which is likely to make anyone look
Jul 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nope, colour me disappointed. I simply yearned to like this, tried each chapter start to re-gain my hope; I hoped that pre-conceived social ideas of a male-female May-December romance were emotionally addressed; I hoped the supposed glamour of a "famous" condition were smashed to smithereens; I wanted my heart to be all messed up and inspired, but nope. Nope. The heroine, the narrator, started out unlikeable, which is not the problem in itself--look at the power of the folk-tale-like transformat ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

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 Figme

Articles featuring this book

Susan Orlean, the author of The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession and staff writer for The New Yorker, is back on bookshelves...
76 likes · 14 comments
“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.”
“Books remember all the things you cannot contain.” 31 likes
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