Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The individual's place in the framework of the larger world and the attendant difficulty of growing up amid complexity and confusion in both family and society are at the heart of Crowley's Little, Big. The novel, a family history spanning five generations, traces the lives and struggles of the descendants of John Drinkwater and Violet Bramble and the parts family members play in a complex century long Tale which involves both the Drinkwaters and the fairy world. The novel's title suggests both of the author's themes. Little, Big describes the relationship between small individual lives and the complicated structure of the large world, the Tale made up of many millions of lives. It describes the process of growth, not just in size, but in maturity as well, the often painful movement from innocence to experience.

Crowley presents these themes through a remarkably complex plot that involves generations of Drinkwaters, their friends, and neighbors. It is the Drinkwater family that holds a special relationship with the fairy world, an illusive other-world that intersects the human one in and about the curiously designed Drinkwater house at Edgewood. Most of the Drinkwaters know they have been chosen to play a part in the slowly unfolding fairy Tale, yet each character is unaware of the significance of his or her life in the larger scheme of the Tale. Crowley moves back and forth through the generations of Drinkwaters, tracing their individual...

(The entire section is 407 words.)