Messin’ with Texas

Giant by Edna Ferber
Here’s a true confession. Readers, prepare to be appalled.
On page 1 of this book, I thought, “Oh, crap. This thing ain’t skimmable. And it’s 400 pages long!”
And I had less than 2 weeks before our book club* met to discuss it, and I had other things I was more in the mood to read. Yes, sometimes I’m that kind of reader.
This shocking tale has a happy ending, though, folks.
I liked the book.
Here’s what you need to know: The first 4 chapters are a flash-forward, and the rest of the book is a flashback that makes Chapters 1 through 4 actually make sense. Take heart, gentle reader!
When I reached Chapter 5, I think I actually sighed with relief. That’s where the good stuff kicked in.
While it’s true that this book is not skimmable (the language is fairly flowery, which normally I detest), the strength of the story is what rescues this thing.
Leslie was a young Virginia debutante who fell head over heels in love with Bick Benedict, a Texas rancher who bought a horse from her father. And she married him right then and there, and then they hopped on a train and headed back to the ranch.
Where he promptly neglected her (ever so benignly) and allowed his Mrs. Danvers of a sister to terrorize her.
But she overcomes. And she strives to remain true to her ideals, but one of the big questions is: How successful is she at actually doing so?
This is a big old story, fitting for Texas. (Though I guess Texans have hated it since its publication.)
It reminded me, as I mentioned, of Rebecca, but also of Main Street (new wife goes to live among her husband’s people).
Good story. Like Dallas (TV show of the ’80s, oh yes), only way better. * After reading Revolutionary Road, our book club decided to stay in the ’50s a while, so we selected Giant because it was published in ’52… and because we’d heard of the movie. But now we’re headed into the ’40s (The End of the Affair) ’cause we’re crazy like that.

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