four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
39-Mar-Apr-2009
user_rating: 
0

A-The Little Giant of Aberdeen CountryTiffany Baker lives in Tiburon, California; this is her first novel.

The Story: At birth, Truly Plaice is so large that her father blames her for his wife’s death during childbirth. Weighing 400 pounds from a pituitary gland disorder, Truly lives unhappily with her father and beautiful, petite sister, Serena Jane, in upstate New York. After her father dies, Truly is sent to live on a farm at the outskirts of town, while her sister embraces a life of privilege. But when Serena Jane leaves husband Bob Bob Morgan—a powerful doctor and descendant of the town witch, Tabitha Morgan—Truly goes to care for her sister’s husband and son. Living under Bob Bob’s cruel dominance, Truly finds Tabitha’s secrets hidden in an heirloom quilt, which leads her to take control of her life and alter Aberdeen County’s destiny forever.
Grand Central. 352 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 0446194204

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s a wise book, with Baker letting the reader gently ease into discovering its magic, much as Truly patiently reveals Tabitha’s secrets. Baker plays some voodoo with point of view—the book is told entirely first-person, but Truly frequently tells us what someone else thought or did when she wasn’t present." Joy Tipping

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"Baker enters Alice Hoffman territory in this parable about beauty and ugliness, meanness and mercy and magic, and does it with considerable dark humor. … The characters are outsize in many ways, but the spell she casts keeps the reader engaged in this very promising debut." Carole Goldberg

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"That relationship between the unusually beautiful and the unusually ugly becomes a major theme, as both Serena and her sister find their lives determined by their bodies, but not in the way one might expect. … Baker knows how to spin an alluring plot, and she tells this emotional story in a lush voice that’s spiked with just a taste of self-pity." Ron Charles

Charlotte Observer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Tiffany Baker’s captivating debut has all the hallmarks of the Southern Gothic. There are elements of the grotesque, hints of the supernatural, and characters so flawed as to make Tennessee Williams proud." Lee Rhodes

Critical Summary

A gothic, macabre tale involving revenge, redemption, folk medicine, and magic, The Little Giant garnered ample praise from critics, who were perhaps surprised that the story of a gargantuan woman captivated them so thoroughly. Although the first part, which focuses on the relationship between Truly and Serena Jane, contains elements of melodrama, it allows Baker to explore the contrast between all kinds of beauty and ugliness. Baker moves on to explore issues such as family, betrayal, love, and friendship (her attempts to tackle topics such as euthanasia, rape, and sexual orientation fall a little flat). A few critics also faulted Trudy’s unrealistic first-person but omniscient narration, but this was a minor complaint in a compelling, emotional, and intelligent novel from an author to watch.