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The Little People Paperback – December 1, 2000
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Christopher writes in a poetic, descriptive style, and this story unfolds slowly at first. A lot of time is taken to set up the characters, and the first part of the novel is frustratingly slow in a few places. But the book is not long, begins to pick up speed in the middle, and it practically races to its heart-pounding finale.
Concerning a group of miniature people discovered living in a remote old house in the southern Irish countryside (which has become a hotel run by the woman to whom the estate was willed), this story reveals itself as something different from what it seems at first. One might think of fairy tales and pixie dust, but this yarn is more sinister, and answers fewer questions than are asked. The story is actually plausible, if one does not look at the science too closely.
My one complaint is that the characters are overdrawn for a slight plot such as this, but I think I understand why Mr. Christopher did it this way. Explaining it would give away the ending, so I'll let it suffice to say that I would have liked a lot more action and just a little less psychoanalysis of the numerous characters. There could have been so much more to this work, I feel, but in its favor, it's an atmospheric chiller with some memorable passages that lingered in my mind for years. Expanded some, and handled the right way, THE LITTLE PEOPLE would make for a fascinating movie.
With a Darth Vader step-dad and a loony mother, poor Michael doesn't have a great deal of back bone. But that's ok, beacuse his best friend at the mostly-boys-only school is Cruella, and she has attitude in spades.
It seems that Daddy George (the Darth Vader step-dad) has enslaved a whole lot of elves to work in his shoe factory. Altough it takes a lot to get Michael to the point of seeing himself as their saviour, he eventually (and with a lot of prodding from various plot contrivances, and baleful girls, not to mention saccharine elves) makes an attempt to find out and fix whatever his relatives have been up to.
Being who and what he is (a monumental screw up of the kind only teenage and gormless boys seem to acheive), the operation is doomed to failure, a fact he recognizes from the outset.
Slow in places, and at times a little too carried away with describing the interminable boredom in interminable detail, this book is nontheless very enjoyable.
Through reading, I've been moved to push quotes from the book upon people.
Michael is very reminiscent of Prachett's Rincewind, only done in Holt fashion. The spineless acceptance of fate & realization of his place on the food chain make them very similar.
Holt imbues a waft of romance to the book via Cruella, and it's refreshing (The Portable Door has been his other major excursion into "happily ever afters") only I felt at the end of the book he has somewhat betrayed his characters the ending they deserved.
It's as if Holt was happy writing the middle and just before the ending experienced a disappointment that forced him to conclude the book on bitter note, instead of the humorous twist which he usually leaves the reader with.
A poignant paragraph:
"..difference between romance and real life. I think they probably have tupperware hearts in Elfland, thin and bendy and impossible to break, and thus not worth having. This side, we have the real thing; we have all the real things, good and bad, and it's the fact that they can be lost and bruised and broken that makes them valuable. They have all the looks and the style and the flowering cherry trees, we have grotty streets and lousy weather and love that can't be Araldited back together again if you're cack-handed enough to drop it. They have elves who can edit out the bad and boring bits and live for ever; we've just got little people, living short lives, living every second of them, whether we like it or not."
The little people of the title is multi-layered, and not just the obvious reference to elves /gnomes it seems to be at first.
Enjoyable and humorous although a little meandering.
Kotori December 2004 - firstname.lastname@example.org
This book has some of the best individual lines and a great premise, but the characters aren't as engaging as usual or even likable, and even worse, the ending is flat-out depressing. I found it the least re-readable of his books.
For an introduction to his funner, lighter-escapism with great humor, try Snow White and the Seven Samauri, or Who's Afraid of Beowolf.