September 09, 1996 12:00 PM

by Elizabeth McCracken

This thoughtful and well-wrought first novel joins the most unlikely of romantic protagonists: a sedate New England librarian and an 11-year-old pituitary giant. Outwardly plain, Peggy Cort sees her loneliness as part of her personality; her only conversation is with library patrons. At 25, she has no family, no beau until James Carlson Sweatt comes to her desk with questions, and she begins to fall in love. For Peggy Cort, “Knowledge is Love.”

James and his family become the center of her life, and her devotion grows as steadily as James, who reaches the astounding height of 8’6″ by the age of 19. Handsome, talented, bright, James is “doomed to be mostly enormous,” sought out by a Boston shoe company, curious Cape Cod tourists and Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

The driving force of this work is Peggy’s enormous emotional growth, which parallels James’s own relentless physical development. The wonder of The Giant’s House is its characters, powerfully and sensitively evoked, and its plot, which shifts into high gear and wraps up with a quirky yet romantic finish. (Dial, $19.95)

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