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Summary

Tolkien's acclaimed modern classic 'fairie' tale, read by Derek Jacobi.

'Leaf by Niggle' recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle, who sets out to paint the perfect tree. But he senses that he will be snatched away from his work long before it is finished - if indeed it could ever be finished in this world. For it is in another and brighter place that Niggle finds his tree is finished and learns that it is indeed a real tree, a true part of creation.

Created in the early 1940s, at the same time as The Lord of the Rings was taking shape, 'Leaf by Niggle' is a passionate adult fairy tale about a man who has 'a long journey to make', thought to be an allegory of Tolkien's own life.

©2016 J. R. R. Tolkien (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"As with all good short stories, this one expands in the imagination. Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, indeed." ( The Times)
"Brings a wistful charm to complex issues of truth, beauty, duty and creative aspiration." ( The Herald)
"A haunting and successful demonstration of the qualities of faerie." ( New York Times)

What members say

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  • Overall
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  • M. J. Palmer
  • 16-05-17

My Favourite Tolkien

I have read LOTR almost constantly for the past ten years- it fascinates and inspites me endlessly. But this little flibbet of a jibbet book is the one I would take to the ends of the Earth. It is buoyant and innocent as a nursery room tale, yet profoundly revealing of Tolkien himself in a way LOTR could never be. A treasure that I fear few will recognize...and a lively, characterful reading by Mr. Jacobi.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • David S. Mathew
  • 12-05-17

Gazing through the Leaves

This is of Tolkien's non-Middle Earth stories, but it is a very memorable tale nonetheless. This is story tells of Niggle, a painter living in a dystopian dictatorship that places little to no value on art. I won't spoil anything, but this really is a wonderful story. Very highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Becke
  • 17-02-17

Sublime

"Leaf by Niggle" is one of my favorite of Tolkien's short stories. It is a glimpse at what gives life meaning, the idea of purgatory and the High Places that come afterward. For one to be a well-rounded person, ready for their journey, hard work and the arts must go together. A Leaf by Niggle is quite a thing to see...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan C.
  • 13-04-18

A Thought Provoking Short Story

Would you listen to Leaf by Niggle again? Why?

Yes, I've already listened to this 5 or 6 times. It's a wonderful and encouraging story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Leaf by Niggle?

I found to entire of the story to be memorable and very relatable. But when Niggle is able to grow his tree—the tree he had been trying to paint for years was probably my most favorite moment.

What does Derek Jacobi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love his delivery it's a very good performance. I would never have been able to read the book the number of times I have now if it wasn't for this audiobook. Being able to listen While I drive is a blessing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I think the phrase that summarizes this the best is a quote from the story: "Things might have been different, but they could not have been better."

Any additional comments?

I really can't recommend this book enough! It's fantastic! If you like Tolkien you'll love this. But if you don't like Tolkien you should still give this a shot. It's not as dense and detailed as The Lord Of The Rings, but its message is so valuable!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • k
  • 27-11-16

An unusual Tolkien tale

Read it long ago just because it was Tolkien. Wasn't much interested as a kid, not a hobbit in sight. Reread it occasionally and just now audioed it because it kept crossing my mind and has slowly become one of my favorite short stories. Jacobi is the perfect person to do the reading. Can't say that I love the music used for intro or end but whatever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul D. Benedict
  • 26-08-17

Unfortunate treatment of excellent source material

It would appear the producer (and to a lesser extent, the narrator) had no understanding of the significance or themes of this excellent short story. The beginning and end are scored with a ridiculously cheesy soundtrack which robs the ending of its power.

I would recommend waiting to experience this story until you have time to read it for yourself.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • circa24
  • 17-06-18

Loved the Fairy Story!

Tolkien wrote this fairy tale to illustrate his ideas about their construction and structure. Leaf by Niggle has incredible charm. The story is great for adults and older children. Young children may be disturbed or confused by some of the concepts in the story. I related strongly to Niggle. The character evokes feelings of empathy for someone who wants to do something that everyone thinks is crazy and against the social norms. Enjoy this short story!

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  • Jason Hyde
  • 07-04-18

Short story of life

wonderful view on what it means to live. the music is a little strange though

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  • Deborah Overstreet
  • 06-03-18

Made me cry.

Such a sweet and beautiful story! Derek Jacobi does an excellent job reading and bringing this story to life.

I’m getting ready for a funeral and turned on this book. I didn’t really know what it was about, just picked it because it was Tolkien and it was short. It had me crying at the end of the hour. It was really quite perfect for me at this moment in time.

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  • the average consumer
  • 23-02-18

Exquisite

You can truly see the reflection of Tolkein's own creative genious in Niggle's. What a fantastic tale! Disclaimer, this review may be a bit bias seeing as I am a great fan of Tolkein's work...