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So Big (Perennial Classics) Paperback – August 22, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (August 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060956690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060956691
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A masterpiece...It has the completeness, [the] finality, that grips and exalts and convinces." -- --Literary Review

"A novel to read and to remember." -- --New York Times

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7 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Popular Discussion Topics

beta: what do you think?
  • "Story" 33
  • "Engaging" 12
  • "Characters" 10
  • "Depth" 4
  • "Influential" 3
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Pamela on August 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Without a doubt, _So Big_ is the best of all Edna Ferber's novels, and it was awarded the 1924 Pulitzer prize. It contains a strong portrayal of early 20th century midwestern agricultural life, which Ferber borrowed from her observations as a young women in Appleton, Wisconsin.
_So Big_ is the story of Dirk DeJong, and his mother Selina. After a colorful and tragic girlhood, she arrived as a schoolteacher in a Dutch farming community south of Chicago. She didn't quite fit in with the narrow-minded farmers and their overworked wives, yet she married a handsome farmer with notoriously unproductive land.
After his early death, she spends the next decades finding a market and coaxing a crop to grow in soggy land. By the time Dirk grows up, the "DeJong asparagus" is a success, and it enables his banking career. Yet he loses a sense of empathy and beauty, which Selina retains, despite her difficult path in life.
Ferber is the author who wrote _Show Boat_ and _Giant_. She could grind out popular dramatic fiction with loads of stock characters in a sentimentalized historic setting. But her later work loses the art found in _So Big_, which is peopled with multi-dimensional characters and a story which touches the reader's heart.
I highly recommend this book.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I am currently reading through the Pulitzer Prize winning novels and this is one of my favorites to date! The story reminds one of who you want to be - one who is strong, principaled and loving. The main charachter is a woman who faces virtually every challange that life has to offer and who still remains an individual of hope and direction. I thought that the novel was inspiring. The prose and the themes were engaging and very readable. The book reminds us to push on an be the people that we know that we can be.
A great inspiring book - read it.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful By John Stamper VINE VOICE on December 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
An interesting story of a woman's life and her struggle to raise her only son and teach him what is valuable in life. The Story is set in the late 1800 and early 1900's in rural and urban Chicago. The author called it "a book about cabbages..." but really, it's a story about Selina DeJong, orphaned as a young, wealthy child, who struggles to make a life for herself and her only child Dirk whom she has nicknamed "sobig". She marries a dolt for a husband and begins to work on a farm. Her husband is a small man with a small brain and is afraid of his own shadow which limits and frustrates Selina and keeps her from accomplishing anything for many years. Fortunately, her husband suffers an accidental death and she is fianlly able to make some necessary improvements which allow her son (who otherwise would have been a cabbage farmer his whole life) to attend college in the city. He succeeds in college, but when he gets out he sacrifices his dream profession(architecture) to make a lot of money doing something boring in finance, and in doing so, he misses the point his mother tried to teach him about success. (i.e. that money doesn't equal it.) This is a really good book with a wonderful and inspiring ending. If the whole book had been as good as the last couple chapters, I would have given it five stars easily. Although "So Big" isn't a famous book, Edna Ferber made it big with most of her others... You may have heard of a couple of them... "Giant" from which the Rock Hudson, James Dean film was made, and "Showboat", which was made into a sprawling musical. (My head aches just to think about it).
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By tzefirah on January 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read So Big literally decades ago, and the story has stuck with me through all that time.
Selina DeJong's positive and hard working attitude is inspirational. Ferber does her justice in the end, when Selina achieves "gravitas," the state of being satisfied with her life and wise in old age.
Typically, her son doesn't appreciate what his mother has given him until his is older and can see her through his girlfriend's eyes. Suddenly she becomes clear to him as a heroine.
This story even inspired me to each vegetables more! I can only hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on October 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the early pages of So Big we learn that So Big is the nickname of Dirk DeJong, a young man who has long outgrown the childhood name from his mother, Selina. At this point I figure that the novel would be about the title character, but So Big is really about his mother Selina. Selina takes a job as smalltown schoolteacher in Illinois knowing that in two years she will be eligible to work in a city school and be better paid (the novel is set in the late 1800's). In High Prairie Selina finds out that she is nothing like the hardworking and hard lives of the farmers and farming families of the town. High Prairie is an education for her and when she surprisingly marries one of the farmers her life is ultimately linked to the town and the farming life, one which she never would have anticipated. She hopes, of course, for a better life for her son and struggles to do the best she can for him.

So Big won the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and is a fine novel of argrarian literature. Edna Ferber does well in capturing the hard lives of the farmers without either idealizing their struggle nor demeaning their lives. Literature of this sort (such as A Thousand Acres, which also won the Pulitzer) is strangely appealing to me since I have no real ties to the farming life and have never worked on a farm, but when written well it comes across with great passion and compassion in a novel.

-Joe Sherry
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