I live on a street called Edgewater. It has trees all the way down a gently curving path lying parallel to the river. I’m sure it has tunnels harboring unseen creatures who live hidden in the bramble. But, it doesn’t have quite the same aura which Crowley has created for Edgewood, the first book of Little, Big. I don’t have quite the same home that his characters live in, try as I might to establish one.
Take for example, the domicile of the Junipers:
“It was a white bungalow snuggled within bushy evergreens. Roses just blown grew up trellises beside the green dutch door. White-painted stones marked the path from the door; on the darkling lawn a young deer looked up at him immobile in surprise, and dwarves sat cross-legged on toadstools or snuck away holding treasure. On the gate was a rustic board with the legend burned on it: The Junipers. Smoky unlatched the gate and opened it, and a small bell tinkled in the silence…
The house was tiny and tidy and stuffed with stuff. An old, old dog of the dust-mop kind sniffed at his feet, laughing breathlessly; he bumped into a bamboo telephone table, shouldered a knickknack shelf, stepped on a sliding scatter rug and fell through a narrow archway into a parlor that smelled of roses, bay rum and last winter’s fires. Jeff put down his newspaper and lifted his slippered feet from their hassock. “Edgewood?” he asked around his pipe.
“Edgewood. I was given directions, sort of.” p. 20
I’d practically like to stay there, with Smoky, with the Junipers. But Smoky is on his way to Daily Alice’s house, named Edgewood, being careful to follow her great-aunt Cloud’s directions. He is to arrive on Midsummer Day, walking not riding, with a wedding-suit in his pack old not new, and food made not bought. If he needs a place to spend the night he must beg for it, or find it, but not pay for it. This is what Nora Cloud has read in the cards.
And why might Smoky follow such an odd order? Because he loves Alice, to be sure. But also because he has been invisible and anonymous until he met her. And then he became solid.
It all seems very serious and fulfilling, until we come to the marriage ceremony which I had to read over several times, smiling for the way it turned a typically solemn occasion upside down:
Doctor Word fluttered the pages of his book and began to speak quickly, his words shot through with champagne and tremblings and the harmonium’s unceasing melody; it sounded like “Do you Barble take this Daily Alice to be your awful wedded life for bed or for worse insidious in stealth for which or for poor or to have unto whole until death you do part?”
“I do,” Smokey said.
“I do too,” Daily Alice said.’Wring,” Doctor Word said, “And now you pounce you man on wife.”
Aaaah, said all the wedding guests, who then began to drift away, talking in low voices. (p. 64)
There’s only one nagging question in the back of my mind. When Smoky follows Alice out of the wood, after their marriage, he loses her for a moment. He comes to a house in the Woods, where Mr. Woods welcomes him and Mrs. Underhill takes out a single hot-cross bun on which is drawn a five-pointed star in white icing sugar. Five pointed stars have appeared before, but what is also curious is that Smokey sees the wet woods he had come through with Alice, and far off, Alice herself, within the doors of a tall wardrobe. How strange that a wardrobe should appear here as well as in C. S. Lewis’ works, a magical wardrobe through which one leaves to follow one’s dream. Or, to find one’s Destiny.
Find thoughts on Book Two: Brother North-Wind’s Secret, tomorrow. If you wish to leave links to your posts, or thoughts on any part of Little, Big please feel free to do so. I’m looking forward to seeing the parts you highlight.