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Big as Life: Three Tales for Spring Hardcover – May 21, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (May 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067089978X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670899784
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,495,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a sharpshooter's eye and brilliantly attuned sensibility, Howard considers the implications of the spring season in the second in a projected series of works (after A Lover's Almanac) inspired by the natural world. In tensile, beautifully articulated prose, she reveals the souls of people who reflect on renewal and redemption in three richly conveyed settings. In the "April" section, a young woman inherits the house where she lived for a while as a child with two eccentric maiden aunts and brooded in a secluded turret. Ruminating on her ancestors and the play of nature in their lives, the adult Marie Claude also muses on her own life and the future of a new relationship. A rich, elegiac tone pervades "May." Nell Boyle, an 18-year-old Irish beauty with secret shames and hidden sins, is sent to live with her wealthy cousins in America and becomes a wary observer of their dysfunctional family. Watching as her innocent young cousin Mae's burgeoning religious fervor is squelched by the reserved, upper-crust Boyles, Nell contrasts the adult Mae's conventional but heartbreakingly empty existence with her own unhappy past. In the tripartite "June" section, Howard examines the sacrifices required by passionate commitment. The extraordinary life of nature artist John James Audubon is seen through the eyes of his long-suffering wife, Lucy. "Salvino" revisits Artie and Louise, from A Lover's Almanac, again reflecting the interplay of nature against a background of academia in its most political incarnation. The final panel, "Myself," is a crisp quasi-memoir, revealing Howard's own "landscape of memory" of the flora and fauna that had a significant impact on her imagination. Howard's language is fresh and energetic, her metaphors luminous. Her narrative method filtered vignettes, shadowy implications, layers of complexities, delayed explanations results in challenging, adventurous literary fiction. Agent, Gloria Loomis.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The second installment in Howard's cycle of fictions based on the four seasons, this work revolves around awakening and the urge to go forward. The first story in this challenging if beautifully written collection is "Children with Matches," in which Marie Claude, recounts her strange childhood. Complete with eccentric aunts and a housewith a mysterious and sometimes scary tower, it is the stuff of magic, but Howard's frequent, mercurial flights between time frames and characters sometimes leave the reader confused. In the second story, the beautiful but besmirched Nell is sent from Ireland to live with relatives who have little patience with her, but Nell takes charge and goes forward. Again, Howard's use of language is incredible, but the seemingly excessive entanglement of so many plotlines disrupts the narrative's flow. The third story is about John James Audubon, who suffered no obstacles in his quest for success. This is followed by the author's thoughts on her relationship to nature and a modern couple's search for spiritual balance; the connections to Audubon are tenuous. Though Howard's language is often enjoyable, the stories themselves lack cohesion. For larger collections. Patricia Gulian, South Portland, ME
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Mccall on May 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A new book by Maureen Howard is always a treat. To those of us who have read her earlier works, her newest book "Big As Life" seems to reach an even higher level of perception and vivid explication. Few contemporary novelists write with her artistic beauty and sureness of touch. She sees deeply into individuals without losing sight of the big picture- sin and redemption, pain and exhaltation,innocence and experience. You will love and learn from Marie Claude, feel with and for Nell, admire Audubon's artistic pursuit and marvel at his wife Lucy's perseverance. New readers of Howard will be in for a startling treat. Her scenes, characters and plot have long shelf life.
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