Monday, November 7, 2011

So Big by Edna Ferber

This is another Pulitzer Pize winng book. The back of the book touts this as “A rollicking panorama of Chicago's high and low life, this stunning novel follows te travails of gambler's daughter Selina Peake DeJong as she struggles to maintain her dignity, her family, and her sanity in the face of monumental challenges."  I found this rather misleading as after the first 50 pages or so, Selina's father passes away and she leaves Chicago to live in the country as a school teacher.  Selina sees the beauty in everything she sees. Her observation on first seeing a field of cabbages, "Cabbages are beautiful" becomes a source of mocking from the country folk and is repeated throughout the novel as a means of separating Selina from the people with whom she lives among.

She quickly marries a ‘truck farmer’ and has a child…a son, Dirk or “So Big”.  Her husband dies after only a few years of marriage and then the story really begins. Selina is forced to work hard to give her son all the things she longed for and was never able to attain. 

I really enjoyed the first part about Selina, but when the story switches focus to Dirk, it falls kind of flat to me, but maybe that was intentional...hmmm.  I keep going back and forth about the ending.  I can’t decide if it was a ‘cop-out’ or a brilliant way to end the book.  I am looking forward to discussing it with the women of my book club to see if they felt the same way.  It definitely has a message to deliver and it does that well, whether you like the ending or not.

3 stars (Rated G – for young audiences as well)

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