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Jean Clocker is conceived by her mother Wisteria only as a means to entrap a damaged First World War veteran into marriage. Having achieved wedlock but failed in her plan to rid herself of the now-redundant snare, Wisteria visits maternal tyranny on Jean with enthusiasm and diabolical skill.

Born of rage and envy, into a body as epic as the life she will live, Jean spends her early years avoiding her mother's blows and striving to make herself just a little less extraordinary. She is finally released from servitude in the opening days of the Second World War. Orphaned, she thrives in wartime, all the while fearing the return of normality and its accompanying and impossible condition of conformity.

It is Denny, a tiny and impossibly charistmatic GI with a reverence for size, who facilitates her second liberation, as he takes her across the ocean as his bride. But in California, he disappears without warning, and Jean is required once more to negotiate the world on her own.

Little Gods is dark, comic and deeply romantic. At times reminiscent of the work of John Irving and Michael Chabon, it is one of the most original, moving and inventive novels of recent years.

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