Big Stone Gap: A Novel Paperback – Apr 3 2001
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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
A wholesome Cinderella story with a winning blend of '70s nostalgia and Appalachian local color, Trigiani's debut introduces a likable heroine who's smart but obtuse, needy but rejecting, and generous with affection but afraid of love. Ave Maria Mulligan is the daughter of the late pharmacist of Bit Stone Gap, Va., and an immigrant Italian seamstress. She inherited the pharmacy when her father died, but it's only her mother's recent death that made Ave realize that, at 35, she's the town spinster. Not that she lacks for attention. Handsome Theodore Tipton, the high school band and choral director, is her best friend, and sexy bombshell Iva Lou Wade, who drives the book mobile that Ave eagerly awaits, is around to offer romantic advice. Plainspoken, direct and humorous, Ave has an amusing foible: having discovered a book on the Chinese art of face reading, she describes everyone in terms of the personality traits their facial features ostensibly demonstrate. In her self-deprecating assessment, Ave has "a mountain girl's body, strong legs, and a flat behind." So when Theodore proposes, and then takes it back, and mountain-man Jack MacChesney then also offers matrimony--out of pity, Ave assumes, so she rejects him--she's near despair. Moreover, a letter left by her mother informs Ave that her real father is a man who lives in Italy. Ave's emotional turmoil takes place against a colorfully detailed tour of Big Stone Gap's history and attractions, including its summer drama festival and its designation as the home of Appalachian bluegrass. Even the actual 1978 visit of senatorial candidate John Warner and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, plays a part in the story. In the tradition of romantic heroines, Ave is unable to recognize true love until it's almost too late, and meanwhile, there are some fairy tale touches, such as the arrival of her entire newly discovered Italian family. What saves the narrative from sentimentality and invests it with charm is Trigiani's witty voice, her tart-tongued but appealing heroine and her ability to recall the cultural details that immerse the reader in the atmosphere of her little mining town. Agent, Suzanne Gluck at ICM. 150,000 first printing; 9-city author tour; rights sold in the U.K, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain. (Apr.) writer for the Bill Cosby show and other TV series, and a documentary filmmaker.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
For those who read "Big Stone Gap", you will enjoy this book immeasurably and for those who haven't, it can be read as a stand-alone, however it would be best to read the first part so you'll have an idea who is who and what the changes in this novel really mean.
Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney and her beloved husband, Jack live in the lush Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Ave Maria has quite the string of quirky and absolutely adorable friends. Her family means more to her than anything, especially her daughter, Etta and the son she lost through leukemia at age four.
In this sequel, Ave Maria agrees to head up the town musical and as she's busy and in deep concentration with collecting actors, assigning parts, talking about costumes she receives an unexpected visit from a total stranger who reveals a very long held secret to her. Bad enough Ave Maria must find a way to deal with this secret but her husband, Jack becomes ill, her daughter moved away to another country and one of her old `heartthrobs' returns for a visit.
How is Ave Maria going to deal with this long held secret, worry over Jack and finding a way to reinvent her life?
This is a fabulous story as is every novel from Adriana. DON'T MISS it!!
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!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Aug. 4 2004
Loved this book. Everything rings true, from the quirky names, oddball characters that populate the little town, to the hilarious/sad/bittersweet occurances. Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by carmenmiranda
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 morePublished on March 21 2004 by Tonya Speelman
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 morePublished on March 12 2004 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on Feb. 26 2004 by Mercedes J.
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 morePublished on Dec 11 2003 by D. Blankenship
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... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2003 by rebelmomof2
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 morePublished on Aug. 23 2003 by Arty Kat