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Giant

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,607 ratings  ·  263 reviews
The basis for the classic film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson, Giant is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna Ferber's sweeping generational tale of power, love, cattle barons, and oil tycoons, set in Texas during the first half of the twentieth century.

When larger-than-life cattle rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict arrives at the family home of sharp-witt
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1952)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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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

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Corinne Edwards
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
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Lauren Stoolfire
After finishing this novel I can definitely say that I prefer the movie adaptation more in comparison. I don't say that often at all, but honestly I think a lot of that relies on the charisma of the talented actors, particularly James Dean as Jett Rink. Once you make it through the first few chapters of the novel which hits you over the head with the magnitude of the state of Texas and everything in it, it certainly gets a little easier as we get to see the Leslie and Bick's relationship from th ...more
Robert
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
4.75 Stars

I remember watching Giant with my mother some twenty or thirty years ago, and I loved, loved the movie. Rock Hudson as Jordan "Bick" Benedict, Elizabeth Taylor as Leslie Lynnton Benedict, and James Dean as Jett Rink; what an incredible cast. And despite Edna Ferber's descriptions of these characters, I could only see the actor's images as I read Giant.

The novel does deviate somewhat from the movie: the beginning is the movie's ending and there is more to the Jett/Leslie angle, ra
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Anna
Jun 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Suzanne
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Bookslut
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first half of this book, maybe even the first 5/6, was so strong and sweeping and lovely. The characters and setting are so very interesting, and I felt such strong identification with the main character. I don't think it was even intended to be a main theme in the book, but it gives the reader an excellent look at how time and marriage change a person across their lifespan. Edna Ferber has been dinged, despite being a Pulitzer winner, for not being a very highbrow author, that she was more ...more
Scott
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is good, but honestly the movie was better.
Big, vast Texas seen in the eyes of a Mid Atlantic doctor’s daughter married to a larger than life Texan rancher.
The story would have been better if broken into separate parts. But it was too much story spread too thin to appear mostly like a vignette.
Jayne
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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Adam Nelson
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Quirkyreader
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a rip roaring all American novel worthy of its five star rating. It starts off with a big Texas party and then goes into the past when the main characters Jordan and Leslie meet.

Granted that it was written in the early 1950's it still has men and women in their stereotypical roles. There was no gender equality in this story and in certain parts it definately screams out. But aside from that, it is mostly a novel of Texas. And in Texas people do things bigger. At times Ferber's writing
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Martyna
"Giant" is an epic story of the Benedict family, wealthy Texas ranchers. Through the prism of their lives we observe the socio-economic changes that took place in the southern United States in the first half of the XXth century, alongside the great fortunes born of oil, racism and the increasingly conflicting generational conflict. In this 400 pages book, the old goes away, giving way to the younger, more liberal generation, who will soon pick up the baton.

The action takes place in Texas in the
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Robyn Markow
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I saw the movie version of this book many years ago on TCM & was drawn in by the story so I decided to give the book a try & I'm glad I did .Mostly centered around Texas Rancher Jordan "Bick"Benedict his wife, highly intelligent Virginian transplant Leslie & Jett Rink(portrayed by James Dean in his last film role)
a loutish cowhand who strikes oil & is obsessed w/Leslie. This novel really captured the feel of the wide-open spaces of this enormous state that is bigger than many countries. I also
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Lee Anne
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Betsy
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Richard Palmer
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Rebecca
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
***Reasons Giant was an exercise in frustration:

1) Racism. I really can't quite grasp how anyone can be stupid enough to be a racist, and there's nothing so infuriating as stupidity.

2) Sexism. Again with the stupidity! Seriously, how can you be stupid enough to think that women don't have brains? Or that if a particular woman clearly does and you can't get around it because it's an obvious glaring fact, she's an anomaly and needs to be kept in her place? Just...?

3) N.o.t.h.i.n.g is resolved. Pro
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Scott
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In preparation for a recent trip to Marfa, Texas I decided it was time to pick up this novel. Marfa is the location where the movie Giant was filmed. If you care to read about the filming, there are great stories about the cast such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.

The story begins in the 1920's and concerns the marriage of Jordan "Bick" Benedict and his transplanted Virginia wife Leslie Benedict. Bick is the all-powerful Texas cattle baron who owns a two million-acre ranch named
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Christina Dudley
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amer-exp-pt-2
I first read this tale of Texas when I was a teenager, but I came back to it after reading Philip Meyer's THE SON, where one character meets with Edna Ferber while she's writing GIANT and finds the book "one long exaggeration" that "made everyone look like clowns." Yes, it is exaggerated, but I don't think the clown comment is warranted.

You can tell that the character of Leslie Lynnton is meant to represent the outsider perspective that Ferber shared, and maybe that's why I sometimes felt Lesli
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Vicki
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s rare that a book is both deeply educational and immensely entertaining. This book by (for some reason now little-known) Edna Ferber hits on the money for both counts. Come for the hijinks of Texas cattle ranching society, stay for the astute (but never preachy) descriptions of Texan/Mexican history, the Texas landscape, and a portrait of a family tied to their land and a woman smart beyond her years who tests those bonds. Lush, beautiful page turner of a book. I learned a TON about Texas in ...more
David Allen White
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I suppose this is a look at a certain type of Texan, whom I have never met, despite more than 20 years in San Antonio. But I've always lived in a city, never on a ranch. Never even been to a ranch. Don't know anybody who owns a ranch. The movie developed somewhat differently from the novel, and I'm not so sure that I didn't like the movie better. But the novel is very readable.
Alyssa Yoder
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This book pushed me out of my comfort zone--Westerns aren't really my thing, and the writing style annoyed me sometimes. But the marriage, the themes, the subtle symbolism, and the complex characters drew me in and made me think. 3.5 stars.
Jo Marie
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great story with a wonderful sense of time and place. A lot in here to think about; wish I could have been at the book discussion.
Philip
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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Ashley Houser
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
So, how did I happen to read a book published in 1952? Let me tell you. While reading Where the Crawdads Sing, I could not stop thinking about how it reminded me of my Grandma Tocco. I felt compelled to send her a copy to read. In our conversation about Where the Crawdads Sing, my grandma said to me, "Have you read anything by Edna Ferber? She's one of my favorite authors!" As I hadn't, she recommended that I read Giant so I added it to the list.

I'm not going to lie, I almost did not get past t
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Lesley
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
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:

“‘Get this, If you can understand anything that isn't Virgina and pink coats and hunt dinners and Washington tea parties. Just g
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Mariah
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Giant 1 5 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).

Ferber was born August 15, 1885, in
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