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Big Stone Gap: A Novel [Paperback]

Adriana Trigiani
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2001 Big Stone Gap Novels
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she's not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave's fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime—a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. Brimming with humor and wise notions of small-town life, Big Stone Gap is a gem of a book with a giant heart. . . .

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Big Stone Gap: A Novel + Big Cherry Holler: A Novel + Milk Glass Moon: A Novel
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From Amazon

In the town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, not much happens. The highlight of 35-year-old Ave Maria Mulligan's week comes on Friday, with the arrival of the Bookmobile, the sight of which sends her into raptures. Her favorite book concerns the ancient Chinese art of reading faces. Through her face-readings, we come to understand the hostilities simmering within her family: her father whose small eyes are the clear "sign of a deceptive nature." Her aunt who "has a small head and thin lips. (That's a terrible combination.)" Adriana Trigiani's first novel concerns the family scandals that befall Ave Maria in this seemingly uneventful town. Greed, lust, envy--all the ancient emotional elements--manifest themselves even in this hamlet of "ordinary folk." Fans of Fannie Flagg or Rebecca Wells will enjoy this down-home tale, full of small, everyday details and colloquial revelations. The writing is often awkward, but so too are the characters who inhabit this place: the Bookmobile lady who thinks of herself as the sexiest woman alive; the amateur actors in the local Outdoor Drama who bristle with ambition when they hear that Elizabeth Taylor is coming to visit. In Big Stone Gap, her visit is so anticipated, it's like she's an angel sent from heaven. --Ellen Williams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Trigiani's story of a middle-aged spinster finding love and a sense of self in a small Virginia coal town is a lot like a cold soda on a hot summer day: light and refreshing, if just a little too sweet. Trigiani, a playwright, filmmaker and former writer for The Cosby Show, has a Southern voice that perfectly embodies her main character, the embattled Ave Maria Mulligan. Ave Maria, who's satisfied if not exactly happy in her role as the town pharmacist, begins questioning her quiet, country life after a posthumous letter from her mother reveals a jarring secret. Ave Maria soon faces a crisis of identity, the advances of a surprising suitor and the threat of her acerbic, money-grubbing Aunt Alice. From the suitor, who points out his brand-new pickup truck during a marriage proposal, to the town temptress, who dispenses romantic advice from her bookmobile, Trigiani brings the story alive with her flexible vocal inventions. Fans of true love stories and happy endings certainly won't be disappointed. Based on the Random hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 31).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, satisfying, comforting sort of read March 2 2004
Format:Paperback
Ave Maria considers herself the "town spinster" in Big Stone Gap, a tiny town in the mountains of Virginia where she's the town pharmacist and booklover. Her life is peaceful, quiet, and she's seemingly content, until she reads a letter from her recently-deceased mother which changes everything. Ave's life is turned upside-down and she rethinks her personal and family history, what she needs and wants to be happy in life, and her place in the world.
A very nice and pleasing book, I plan to read the sequel. However, my one main complaint was that the characterisation here wasn't actually that impressive, compared to other aspects of the book. The men in this novel aren't discernible from one another at all. The women are written much better, but even some of them seemed more like cut-outs rather than fully-fleshed characters. That being said, Ave Maria, the main character, was written well, and I liked her and want to know her better (although, is this good or bad I wonder?) The plot was, in general, logical and neat. One full extra rating point because for some reason I can't place, I stayed up until 4am reading this book! Must be something!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! June 6 2004
By Kim M
Format:Paperback
Big Stone Gap is about a small Moutain town in Virginia, and the people who live there. You will meet the most wonderful people in Big Stone Gap. Some of the town members we meet include; Ave Maria the local pharmacist, town spinster, who's about to have a breakdown. Jack Mac, a local coal miner, trying to break though the wall Ave has put around her self. Theodore is our loveable feriner, band/choral director at Powell High School. Pearl Grimes is a local teenager who doesn' t have many friends, she goes on to take a job at Mutual Pharmacy working for Ave. Iva Lou is the bookmobie driver, one of Ave's best friends. I can't forget about wise cracking Fleeta who also works at Mutual for Ave.
Ave just lost her mama and soon finds out that she really doesn't know where she comes from. With the help of her friends she learns how to live life to its fullest. She finds long lost family and at last falls in love. She has everything she always wanted, and learned to be happy
So take a trip down to Big Stone Gap, meet it unique residents. I promise its worth the trip!
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5.0 out of 5 stars --Excellent story with memorable characters-- May 5 2004
Format:Paperback
My husband and I listened to the sound recording of this book and were engaged by the story line and the great quirky characters. Big Stone Gap is a small town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southwestern part of Virginia. The story starts quietly with Ave Maria Mulligan telling the story of her life. She's a 35-year old pharmacist who's mourning the death of her mother and dwelling a lot on her past. She thinks of herself as being rather plain and ordinary and also feels that she will probably never marry. Her best friend, Theodore is a handsome and eligible teacher, but romance does not seem to be part of the relationship. The town people see her as a capable woman who can do anything and will always lend a helping hand.
Life is simple in Big Stone Gap and the best part of the week for Ave Maria is when the bookmobile shows up each Friday. In fact, Ave Maria says that everything that's she's learned from life has come from books. Her favorite book teaches the Chinese art of face reading and she practices on everyone's face and the results always seem to ring true. Things change when Ave Maria discovers some family secrets and her entire world is turned upside down. To add even more drama, Jack Mac, another very attractive man begins showing a lot of interest in her which confuses and complicates life even more for Ave Maria.
This is a wonderful story by Adriana Trigiani who is actually from the town of Big Stone Gap. I'm really looking forward to reading BIG CHERRY HOLLER, the sequel to this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very witty novel Sept. 17 2003
Format:Paperback
It is a very fast read ~~ I read this one in a day and a half ~~ and the pace of this book kept me moving right along ~~ just when I think I should put it down, I turn the page again and start another chapter. The story of Ave Maria keeps me wanting more! What a loveable character ~~ and sometimes she can be so irritating when she can't see the truth right in front of her eyes!
Ave Maria is the local pharmacist who is struggling with her life after her beloved mother died of cancer. Then Ave Maria finds out that the man who she thought is her father isn't ~~ and she begins a search for her true identity. Then all of a sudden, after years of no interest from the male population, she gets two proposals and life begins to change for Ave Maria.
It is a funny and witty insight into small town life ~~ the characters are loveable and everyone is like everyone else that the reader knows. You can't but help fall in love with the Stone Gap residents and you find yourself cheering for them. Ave Maria is a real character ~~ one that you can relate to!
This is a fun read and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the triology.
9-17-03
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet Small-Town Story... Aug. 14 2003
Format:Paperback
At first I found this book a bit hard to get into, as the pace is about as speedy as the towns demeanor; that being, small-town and sleepy. However by the end of the story, I was enchanted by the characters and desperate to know how everything ended up.
The tale follows a mid-thirties woman who defines herself as an orderly town spinster, constantly under the glare of her towns gossiping wives. Ave Maria's life changes when she discovers some shocking information about her past, and as a result she resolves to rearrange her life in a way that re-directs her entire person. While some novels are description-driven, others are action-driven, and some others draw you in with the characters. This is definately the latter as the people and the community are very well illustrated; after all, Adriana Trigiani based many of the characters on real ones from her time growing up in Big Stone Gap.
I recommend this book to curl up with and take your time to read as that'll only make you love it more. I did give it only 4 stars because it took some time for me to really appreciate it, and I found the end a bit drawn out, but now that I've finished it, I enjoyed the lessons I learnt from the novel and the story altogether.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearing & Heartwarming!
What can I say? Another F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C book from Adriana Trigiani who never, ever fails to pen a novel that you'll never forget! Read more
Published on Dec 9 2010 by Louise Jolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Warms the heart
The characters were so well drawn in BIG STONE GAP that I felt I knew them. Loved Jack Mac and Iva Lou...and of course Ave Maria...right from the start. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a jewel
Loved this book. Everything rings true, from the quirky names, oddball characters that populate the little town, to the hilarious/sad/bittersweet occurances. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by carmenmiranda
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised!
I was so glad that I stuck with this book because after about 100 pages, I couldn't put it down. Within a few month's our "town spinster's" life changed drastically and... Read more
Published on March 21 2004 by Tonya Speelman
4.0 out of 5 stars True Life in the Gap
If anyone wants a taste of SW VA then I highly suggest this book. Along with Milk Glass Moon and Big Cherry Holler, Big Stone Gap provides an insightful glimpse into life on the... Read more
Published on March 12 2004 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Wellllll.....
Ok, I've gotta say, I'm a little disapointed...almost more in myself then this book. After reading all the wonderful reviews this book received, I was extremely excited to read... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2004 by Mercedes J.
5.0 out of 5 stars WELL WORTH THE READ
The book was well written and just chunked full of good characters. Living here in the Ozark Mountains, it was much like reading about many of my neighbors (and must admit,... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by D. Blankenship
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorites, y'all!
I first bought this book because I was moving from Kansas to the Appalachian mountain region very near Big Stone Gap and I thought I might be able to "learn a thing or two. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2003 by K. van Rooyen
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best ever
Although I never lived in Big Stone Gap, I did live in Johnson City, Tennessee for 10 years and can verifiy that this book is the real deal. Ms. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by Anna M. Allred
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