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Little, Big

Little, Big - John Crowley This is one of those books that is hard to talk about. Maybe best to describe by analogy.

So imagine a tangled ball of wool with which you are following a strand as it winds its way in around the other strands, in and out of the tangle until eventually you find the other end of the thread, somewhere not too far from where you started.

The narrative flows a bit like that. It nips back and forwards in time, hops from one character to another, spanning several generations of a sprawling family as we gradually find out about their tale, the purpose to which the seemingly random and insignificant events, both happy and tragic, turn out to be all part of some grand plan for the future.

An ambitious and often confusing work that requires the reader to take the hints and fill in the gaps in order to make more sense of the story. The lazy, meandering narrative requires a strong prose style to carry it off, to engage the reader whilst the tension slackens and, for the most part, Crowley is up to the job. But only just; he's not quite one of the prose greats in who's writing you can lose yourself no matter what the subject matter.

At times I found it slightly hard work, could only read short sections in one sitting, which is why it took me so long to finish. But my respect for the novel grew as it became apparent what the author was trying to do and how cleverly the themes recurred throughout the story as well as in the narrative structure itself. If you read this, in the right frame of mind, with patience and are willing to submerge yourself in Crowley's world, you will likely enjoy this book very much.