Friday, August 15, 2008

So Big by Edna Ferber

2 of 10 for the Book Awards Challenge II
10 of 11 for the Summer Reaching Challenge
3 of 6 for the Classics Challenge
3 of 3 for the td;lr challenge

Rating: 5/5
genre: adult fiction

I regret that I have waited so long to read this magnificent book.

Selina's unusual upbringing by a roving gambler in the late 19th century imbues her with a love of life and adventure. Her heart's desire to truly live leads her to say farewell to Chicago for the "High Prairie" where she takes a job as a teacher in a school full of farm children. As different as it is from the city, Selina finds beauty and a certain strength in the landscapes and the Dutch farmers she interacts with. Despite her longing to see the world, circumstances dictate that she stay put in that farm country and Selina's story plays out from there.

As much as this is Selina's story - her gritty, wide-eyed determination and her ability to find the beauty underneath the grime and toil - it's also the story of her son. Dirk, nicknamed So Big as a baby, is Selina's delight. Her wishes for him and the life she watches him choose for himself are at the crux of this novel. We, as readers, live through both of them, basking in their successes and mourning their heartache.

Selina is one of the most powerful and memorable characters I've ever read. Her love of what is real, her stubborn nature and fierce loyalty make her story a compelling one. Just as compelling is the backdrop of Chicago at the turn of the century and the lifestyle of both high society and the farmers who make sure they're fed.

Edna Ferber has written a truly American novel, full of pride and real people, whose dreams and realities rarely walk hand in hand. Read this for Selina. Read it for Chicago. Read it for an appreciation of the soil and those who till it. Read it for Ferber's deft hand and careful language, capturing characters and places you won't soon forget.


Thoughts of Joy said...

Hi Corinne! This sounds very good. I put it on my TBR list. Thank you. :)

Melissa said...

Oh, I'm SO glad you enjoyed it, Corinne. :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I want to say that I've heard this title before but I don't know anything about the author or the book. But it sounds really good--glad you liked it!!

Cami said...

Yes, it is seriously awesome. I loved it.

Anna said...

I just added this to my TBR list. Thanks for a great review.

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

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