Big Cherry Holler

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Overview

Big Cherry Holler, the extraordinary sequel to Big Stone Gap, takes us back to the mountain life that enchanted us in Adriana Trigiani’s best selling debut novel. It’s been eight years since the town pharmacist and long time spinster Ave Maria Mulligan married coal miner Jack MacChesney. With her new found belief in love and its possibilities, Ave Maria makes a life for herself and her growing family, hoping that her fearless leap into commitment will make happiness stay. What she didn’t count on was that fate, ...
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Overview

Big Cherry Holler, the extraordinary sequel to Big Stone Gap, takes us back to the mountain life that enchanted us in Adriana Trigiani’s best selling debut novel. It’s been eight years since the town pharmacist and long time spinster Ave Maria Mulligan married coal miner Jack MacChesney. With her new found belief in love and its possibilities, Ave Maria makes a life for herself and her growing family, hoping that her fearless leap into commitment will make happiness stay. What she didn’t count on was that fate, life, and the ghosts of the past would come to haunt her and, eventually, test the love she has for her husband. The mountain walls that have protected her all of her life can not spare Ave Maria the life lessons she must learn.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Fans of Adriana Trigiani’s charmingly quirky novel Big Stone Gap should be delighted with the sequel, Big Cherry Holler, where readers once again hook up with Ave Maria, now entering her eighth year of marriage to Jack. Ave and Jack have weathered some rough times together, including the death of their three-year-old son, Joe. But tougher times are ahead, beginning with the loss of Jack's job and his launching of a new business in which an attractive woman ends up as his adviser and supplier. Ave fears the woman is after far more, and given the strain she’s felt in her marriage lately, she fears Jack might be willing to provide it. Her fears increase when Jack backs out of their planned vacation to Italy and asks for a trial separation. Ave makes the trip without him and, after some serious soul searching, devises a plan to save her floundering marriage -- if only it’s not too late.
Publishers Weekly
"Something is wrong. Something has shifted and the change was so subtle and so quiet that we hardly noticed it. We pull against each other now." Ave Mari is describing her marriage to miner Jack MacChesney after eight years. During that period they had two children: a daughter, Etta, who is now an energetic preteen, and a son, Joe, who died suddenly of leukemia. Joe's death and the sorrow and pain beneath a tranquil surface is the focus of this tale. When the mine closes, Jack loses his job and Ave suspects that he is involved with another woman. She visits her family in Italy for the summer and finds time to gather her thoughts, to question her behavior as well as Jack's. There she meets the handsome Pete Rutledge, and her own fidelity is tested. Trigiani (Big Stone Gap) reads this story convincingly, with the rural Virginia accent of the friendly and earnest Ave. Well-paced and engaging, this deeply felt story invites the listener to reflect on the nature of love. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover (Forecasts, May 14). (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this sequel to Big Stone Gap (LJ 4/1/00), it's now the late 1980s, and Ave Maria and Jack MacChesney have been married 11 years. They have a ten-year-old daughter, Etta, but lost their younger child, Joe, a few years earlier. This loss and other marital stresses have tested their relationship, but the summer brings on the biggest trial yet. As Jack tries to launch a new construction business in Big Stone Gap, VA, Ave Maria and Etta take off for Italy. While many of the same humorous characters of the first novel reappear here, the tragedy of the death of a child and the chill it can cast on any marriage make this work more somber than its predecessor. Nonetheless, this novel of love and forgiveness delivers its story in a believable manner. Ave Maria remains someone readers would like to know, and Iva Lou, her librarian friend, still has her finger on the pulse of Mars/Venus relationships in this neck of the woods. Recommended for popular fiction collections. Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
Praise for BIG STONE GAP
"Charming . . . Readers would do well to fall into the nearest easy chair and savor the story."
USA Today

"Delightfully quirky . . . chock-full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists, this Gap is meant to be crossed."
People (Book of the Week)

"As comforting as a mug of chamomile tea on a rainy Sunday."
The New York Times Book Review

"A touching tale of a sleepy Southern town and a young woman on the brink of self-discovery and acceptance."
Southern Living

"Ave Maria's spunky attitude, sardonic wit, and extravagant generosity compel you into her fan club . . . . Delightfully entertaining."
Tampa Tribune

"A delightful tale of intimate community life [where] the characters are as real as the ones who live next door."
Sunday Oklahoman

"In a sassy Southern voice, [Trigiani] creates honest, endearingly original characters."
— Glamour

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449007495
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Series: Big Stone Gap Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani
ADRIANA TRIGIANI grew up in Virginia and now lives in New York City with her husband. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. BIG CHERRY HOLLER is her second novel. She is currently at work on the film version of her first novel BIG STONE GAP, for which she wrote the screenplay and which she will also direct.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

As her squadrons of fans already know, Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, a coal-mining town in southwest Virginia that became the setting for her first three novels. The Big Stone Gap books feature Southern storytelling with a twist: a heroine of Italian descent, like Trigiani, who attended St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, like Trigiani. But the series isn't autobiographical -- the narrator, Ave Maria Mulligan, is a generation older than Trigiani and, as the first book opens, has settled into small-town spinsterhood as the local pharmacist.

The author, by contrast, has lived most of her adult life in New York City. After graduating from college with a theater degree, she moved to the city and began writing and directing plays (her day jobs included cook, nanny, house cleaner and office temp). In 1988, she was tapped to write for the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and spent the following decade working in television and film. When she presented her friend and agent Suzanne Gluck with a screenplay about Big Stone Gap, Gluck suggested she turn it into a novel.

The result was an instant bestseller that won praise from fellow writers along with kudos from celebrities (Whoopi Goldberg is a fan). It was followed by Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon, which chronicle the further adventures of Ave Maria through marriage and motherhood. People magazine called them "Delightfully quirky... chock full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists."

Critics sometimes reach for food imagery to describe Trigiani's books, which have been called "mouthwatering as fried chicken and biscuits" (USA Today) and "comforting as a mug of tea on a rainy Sunday" (The New York Times Book Review). Food and cooking play a big role in the lives of Trigiani's heroines and their families: Lucia, Lucia, about a seamstress in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and The Queen of the Big Time, set in an Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, both feature recipes from Trigiani's grandmothers. She and her sisters have even co-written a cookbook called, appropriately enough, Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap. It's peppered with anecdotes, photos and family history. What it doesn't have: low-carb recipes. "An Italian girl can only go so long without pasta," Trigiani quipped in an interview on GoTriCities.com.

Her heroines are also ardent readers, so it comes as no surprise that book groups love Adriana Trigiani. And she loves them right back. She's chatted with scores of them on the phone, and her Web site includes photos of women gathered together in living rooms and restaurants across the country, waving Italian flags and copies of Lucia, Lucia.

Trigiani, a disciplined writer whose schedule for writing her first novel included stints from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning, is determined not to disappoint her fans. So far, she's produced a new novel each year since the publication of Big Stone Gap.

"I don't take any of it for granted, not for one second, because I know how hard this is to catch with your public," she said in an interview with The Independent. "I don't look at my public as a group; I look at them like individuals, so if a reader writes and says, 'I don't like this,' or, 'This bit stinks,' I take it to heart."

Good To Know

Some fascinating, funny outtakes from our interview with Trigiani:

"I appeared on the game show Kiddie Kollege on WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia, when I was in the third grade. I missed every question. It was humiliating."

"I have held the following jobs: office temp, ticket seller in movie theatre, cook in restaurant, nanny, and phone installer at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. In the writing world, I have been a playwright, television writer/producer, documentary writer/director, and now novelist."

"I love rhinestones, faux jewelry. I bought a pair of pearl studded clip on earrings from a blanket on the street when I first moved to New York for a dollar. They turned out to be a pair designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. Now, they are costume, but they are still Schiaps! Always shop in the street -- treasures aplenty."

"Dear readers, I like you. I am so grateful that you read and enjoy my books. I never forget that -- or you -- when I am working. I am also indebted to the booksellers who read the advanced reader's editions and write to me and say, "I'm gonna hand-sell this one." That always makes me jump for joy. I love the people at my publishing house. Smart. Funny, and I like it when they're slightly nervous because that means they care. The people I have met since I started writing books have been amazing on every level -- and why not? You're readers. And for someone to take reading seriously means that you are seeking knowledge. Yes, reading is fun, but it is also an indication of a serious-minded person who values imagination and ideas and, dare I say it, art. I never thought in a million years when I was growing up in Big Stone Gap that I would be writing this to you today. Books have always been sacred to me -- important, critical, fundamental -- and a celebration of language and words. And authors! When I was little, I didn't play Old Maid, I played authors. They had cards with the famous authors on them. Now, granted, they didn't look like movie stars, but I loved what they wrote and had to say. I can boil this all down to one thing: I love to tell stories -- and I love to hear them. I didn't think there was a job in the world where I would get to do both, and now thank God, I've found it."

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The rain is coming down on this old stone house so hard, it seems there are a hundred tap dancers on the roof. When Etta left for school this morning, it was drizzling, and now, at two o'clock, it's a storm. I can barely see Powell Mountain out my kitchen window; just yesterday it was a shimmering gold pyramid of autumn leaves at their peak. I hope the downpour won't beat the color off the trees too soon. We have all winter for Cracker's Neck Holler to wear gray. How I love these mountains in October: the leaves are turning — layers of burgundy and yellow crinolines that change color in the light — the apples are in, the air smells like sweet smoke, and I get to build big fires in Mrs. Mac's deep hearths. As I kneel and slip a log into the stove, I think of my mother-in-law, who had fires going after the first chill in the air. "I love me a farr," she'd say.

There's a note on the blackboard over the sink in Jack Mac's handwriting: Red pepper sandwiches? The message is at least three months old; no one should have to wait that long for their favorite sandwich, least of all my husband. Why does it takes me so long to fulfill a simple request? There was a time when he came first, when I would drop everything and invent ways to make my husband happy. I wonder if he notices that life has put him in second place. If he doesn't, my magazine subscriptions sure do. Redbook came with a cover exploding in hot pink letters: put the sizzle back in your marriage! we show you how! Step #4 is Make His Favorite Food. (Don’t ask about the other nine steps.) So, with equal measures of guilt and determination to do better, I'mroasting peppers in the oven, turning them while they char as dark as the sky.

I baked the bread for the sandwiches this morning. I pull the cookie sheet off the deep windowsill, brush the squares of puffy dough with olive oil, and put them aside. Then I take the tray out of the oven and commence peeling the peppers. (This is a sit-down job.) My mother used to lift off the charred part in one piece; I've yet to master her technique. The vivid red pepper underneath is smooth as the velvet lining of an old jewelry box. I lay the thin red strips on the soft bread. The mix of olive oil and sweet hot bread smells fresh and buttery. I sprinkle coarse salt on the open sandwiches; the faceted crystals glisten on the red peppers. I'm glad I made a huge batch. There will be lots of us in the van tonight.

There's big news around here. Etta is going to be on television. She and two of her classmates are going on Kiddie Kollege, the WCYB quiz show for third-graders. Etta, who loves to read, has been chosen for her general knowledge. Her fellow teammates are Jane Herd and Billy Skeens. Jane, a math whiz who has the round cheeks of a monarch, has been selected for her keen ability to divide in her head. Billy, a small but mighty Melungeon boy, was chosen for his bravery. He recently helped evacuate the Big Stone Gap Elementary School cafeteria when one of the steam tables caught fire. No one could come up with a prize big enough to honor him (an assembly and a medal seemed silly), so the school decided to put him on the show. I guess the teachers feel that fame is its own reward.

Jack Mac borrowed the van from Sacred Heart Church because we’re transporting the team and I've promised rides to our friends. The television studio is about an hour and a half from the Gap, right past Kingsport over in Bristol, Tennessee. The show is live at six p.m. sharp, so we'll leave right after school. Etta planned her outfit carefully: a navy blue skirt and pink sweater (her grandfather Mario sent it to her from Italy, so Etta thinks it’s the best sweater she owns, if not the luckiest). She is wearing her black patent-leather Mary Janes, though I pointed out that you rarely see anyone's shoes on TV.

I make one final pass through the downstairs, locking up as I go. With its simple, square rooms and lots of floor space, this old house is perfect for raising kids. Of course, when Mrs. Mac was alive, I never dreamed I'd live here. For a few years, this was just another delivery stop for me in the Medicine Dropper. I remember how I loved to drive up the bumpy dirt road and see this stone house sitting in a clearing against the mountain like a painting. If I had known that Mrs. Mac would one day be my mother-in-law, I might have tried to impress her. But I didn't. I'd drop off her pills, have a cup of coffee, and go. I never thought I would fall in love with her only son. And I never thought I would be looking at my face in these mottled antique mirrors, or building fires for heat, or raising her granddaughter in these rooms. If you had told me that I would make my home in this holler on this mountain, I would have laughed. I grew up down in town; no one ever moves out of Big Stone Gap and up into the hills. How strange life is.

I check myself in the mirror. Etta is forever begging me to wear more makeup. She wants me to be a young mom, like her friends have; in these parts, the women my age are grandmothers! So I stop in the hallway for a moment and dig for the lipstick in the bottom of my purse. My youthful appeal will have to come from a tube. You would think that someone who has worked in a pharmacy all her life would have one of those snazzy makeup bags. We have a whole spin rack of them at the Mutual's. Maybe Etta's right, I should pay more attention to the way I look. (Covering up my undereye circles is just not a priority.) Folks tell me that I haven't changed since I was a girl. Is that a good thing? I lean into the tea-stained glass and take a closer look. Eight years with Jack MacChesney have come and gone. It seems once I fell in love with him, time began flying.

Someone is banging on the front door. The thunder is so loud, I didn't hear a car come up the road. With one hand, Doris Bentrup from the flower shop juggles an umbrella in the wind and with the other, a stack of white boxes festooned with lavender ribbons. Two pairs of reading glasses dangle from her neck. Beads of rain cover the clear plastic cap she wears on her head.

"Come on in!"

"Can't. Got a wagon full of flowers. Got a funeral over in Pound. I'm gonna kill myself if this rain done ruined my hair."

"It looks good." I'm about a foot taller than Doris, so I look down on her tiny curls, each one a perfect rosette of blue icing under a saran-wrap tent.

"It'd better. I suffered for this look. I sat under that dryer over to Ethel's for two hours on Saturdee 'cause of the humidity. She sprayed my head so bad these curls is like tee-niney rocks. Feel."

"They're perfect," I tell Doris without touching her head.

"Etta all ready for the big show?"

"Yes ma'am."

"We hope they win this year, on account of no one from Big Stone ever wins."

"Didn't the Dogwood Garden Club win on Club Quiz?"

"Yes'm. But that was a good ten year' ago. And they was grown-ups, so I don't think you can count 'at. Wait till you see who these is from. I nearly done dropped my teeth, and you know that ain't easy, 'cause I glue 'em in good."

I pull the tiny white card bordered in crisp pink daisies out of the envelope. It reads: Knock 'em dead, Etta. And remember, the cardinal is the state bird of Virginia. Love, Uncle Theodore.

"That there Tipton is a class act. He ain't never gonna be replaced in these parts," Doris announces as she tips her head back to let the rain drain off her cap. "Sometimes we git a ferriner in here that makes us set up and take notice. How’s he doin' at U.T.?"

"He says he's got the best marching band in the nation."

"Now if they'd only start winning them some ball games."

As Doris makes a break for her station wagon, I open a box. There, crisp and perfect, is a wrist corsage of white carnations. Nestled in the cold petals are three small gold-foil letters: win. I inhale the fresh, cold flowers. The letters tickle my nose and remind me of the homecoming mums that Theodore bought me every year during football season. For nearly ten years, Theodore was band director and Junior Class Sponsor at Powell Valley High School. He chaperoned every dance, and I was always his date. (Parents appreciated that an experienced member of the Rescue Squad chaperoned school dances.) Theodore always made a big deal of slipping the corsage onto my wrist before the game. Win or lose, the dance was a celebration because Theodore’s halftime shows were always spectacular. Besides his unforgettable salute to Elizabeth Taylor prior to her choking on the chicken bone, my favorite was his salute to the Great American Musical, honoring the creations of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Each of the majorettes was dressed as a different lead character, including Maria from The Sound of Music and Julie Jordan from Carousel. Romalinda Miranda, daughter of the Filipino Doctor Who Was on the Team That Saved Liz Taylor, was the ingenue from Flower Drum Song. Theodore pulled her from the Flag Girls; there was a bit of a drama around that, as folks didn’t think that a majorette should be drafted out of thin air for one show just because she looked like she was from the original cast. Once the controversy died down, the Miranda family basked in the glory of the celebration of their Asian heritage. (Extra points for my fellow ferriners.)

I gently place the boxes on top of my tote bag full of things we might need for the television appearance. Extra kneesocks. Chap Stick. Comb. Ribbons. My life is all about collecting things for my family and then putting them back. Lists. Hauling. And I'd better never forget anything. Even Jack relies on me for tissues when he sneezes and quarters for the paper. Sometimes I wonder if all these small details add up to anything.

Big Stone Gap Elementary is a regal collection of four beautifully appointed beige sandstone buildings, built in 1908. In mining towns, the first place the boom money goes is to the schools; Big Stone Gap was no different. There is at least an extra acre of field for the kids to play in, a glorious old auditorium (with footlights), and a newly refurbished cafeteria (since Billy the Hero). I wait at the entry fence as my own mother did for so many years.

As the bell sounds and the green double doors swing open, the kids pour out onto the wet playground like beads from a sack. Etta stands at the top of the stairs, surveying the fence line. When she sees me, she hops down the steps two at a time and runs toward me. She has a hard time holding on to her red plaid umbrella in the fierce wind. Her rain slicker flaps about. I give her a quick kiss as she jumps into the Jeep.


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Foreword

1. Big Cherry Holler is a sequel to the bestselling Big Stone
Gap.
Does it help to read Big Stone Gap before delving
into Big Cherry Holler? How did the author structure this
book as a stand-alone novel, and how does it function as
a continuation of the first book?

2. What is the significance of the title Big Cherry Holler,
both literally and figuratively?

3. When the book opens, Ave Maria and Jack Mac have been
married for eight years. How have her attitudes about herself
and about relationships changed during that time?
How has she remained a "spinster" in spirit?

4. Early in the book, it's disclosed that Jack and Ave's son,
Joe, died after a sudden illness. In what ways do Jack and
Ave deal with his death, both separately and together?
How does their marriage bear the scars of their son's untimely
death?

5. What role does small-town life—both in Italy and in Big
Stone Gap—play in Ave's life? How do the mammoth
physical attributes of the outside world play against her
life?

6. Ave Maria sees Jack Mac chatting with a tanned, blond
woman named Karen Bell, and immediately feels anxious.
What evidence of marital estrangement accumulates after
that incident? What aspects of Karen's personality do you
think would appeal to Jack Mac?

7. How does Ave Maria see Karen Bell as a rival, and in
which ways does she feel superior to her? Which feeling
ultimately proves more accurate?

8. Were you surprised by the revelation of Theodore's homosexuality?
Which clues—both in this book and in Big
Stone Gap
—areprovided before his confession? How do
you think this will affect his relationship with Ave?

9. When Ave's protege, Pearl, pleads with Ave to become a
partner in the pharmacy, she signs on without consulting
Jack Mac (much to his chagrin). What other decisions in
her life does Ave keep to herself? Is Jack justified in his
anger, or does he, too, keep some aspects of his life private?
Which ones?

10. Ave's daughter, Etta, is a main character in the book. Ave
describes her as "wide open, and yet very private." What
parallels can you draw between Ave and Etta, and how
are the two characters different? How is Etta a product
of Jack Mac's influence? How does she cope with her
brother's death?

11. How do the women of Big Stone Gap—Fleeta, Pearl, Iva
Lou—function as a sort of Greek chorus for Ave? How
does Ave affect each of their lives, and how do they,
in turn, influence hers? How has each woman evolved
throughout the two books?

12. The reader sees Ave Maria in a brand-new environment
when she travels to Italy. Which facets of her personality
come to the forefront? To what factors do you attribute
this change in attitude and appearance?

13. While in Italy, Ave imagines what her life would have been
like had her mother not married Fred Mulligan. How do
you envision Ave's life if she had grown up in Italy? Would
it have been more or less fulfilling?

14. Ave's haircut spurs an absolute transformation. In which
other ways does her appearance play a role throughout
the book? Of which other novels is this reminiscent?

15. What does Pete represent to Ave, both literally and figuratively?
How does he reawaken passion in her?

16. Theodore dismisses Ave's assertion that she didn't really
have an affair with Pete. How is this juxtaposition of
"word vs. deed" a recurrent motif in the book? What examples
can you find in the behavior of Ave, Jack Mac, and
their friends?

17. When Jack Mac and Ave have their confrontation about
Karen Bell, Ave admits that she wanted him to "take her
pain away." Besides Joe's death, what other issues has Ave
Maria grappled with throughout her life? How has she
usually dealt with any pain she has suffered?

18. Do you believe that Jack Mac consummated his affair
with Karen Bell? What evidence do you have for that
conclusion?

19. Jack Mac tells Ave, "I truly believed in us, and you never
did." What actions echo Jack Mac's assertion? How does
Jack Mac demonstrate his love for Ave?

20. At the end of Aunt Alice's life, Ave makes an effort to reconcile
with her. To what do you attribute this change of
heart? How does Ave's relationship with Alice compare to
the one she enjoys with her "Eye-talian" relatives?

21. What significance do you derive from the fact that Jack
Mac and Pete get along immediately? What does Pete's appearance
in Big Stone Gap, as promised, indicate about his
character? How is he similar to Jack Mac, and how is he
different?

22. Do you feel that this book is a lead-up to Etta's stand-alone
story? How do you envision Etta's adolescence and
adulthood?

23. Adriana Trigiani, the book's author, also is an accomplished
playwright. How does this novel have the feel of a
play—whether through Trigiani's use of dialogue, setting,
conflict, or any other literary device?

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Reading Group Guide

1. Big Cherry Holler is a sequel to the bestselling Big Stone
Gap.
Does it help to read Big Stone Gap before delving
into Big Cherry Holler? How did the author structure this
book as a stand-alone novel, and how does it function as
a continuation of the first book?

2. What is the significance of the title Big Cherry Holler,
both literally and figuratively?

3. When the book opens, Ave Maria and Jack Mac have been
married for eight years. How have her attitudes about herself
and about relationships changed during that time?
How has she remained a "spinster" in spirit?

4. Early in the book, it's disclosed that Jack and Ave's son,
Joe, died after a sudden illness. In what ways do Jack and
Ave deal with his death, both separately and together?
How does their marriage bear the scars of their son's untimely
death?

5. What role does small-town life--both in Italy and in Big
Stone Gap--play in Ave's life? How do the mammoth
physical attributes of the outside world play against her
life?

6. Ave Maria sees Jack Mac chatting with a tanned, blond
woman named Karen Bell, and immediately feels anxious.
What evidence of marital estrangement accumulates after
that incident? What aspects of Karen's personality do you
think would appeal to Jack Mac?

7. How does Ave Maria see Karen Bell as a rival, and in
which ways does she feel superior to her? Which feeling
ultimately proves more accurate?

8. Were you surprised by the revelation of Theodore's homosexuality?
Which clues--both in this book and in Big
Stone Gap
--are provided beforehis confession? How do
you think this will affect his relationship with Ave?

9. When Ave's protege, Pearl, pleads with Ave to become a
partner in the pharmacy, she signs on without consulting
Jack Mac (much to his chagrin). What other decisions in
her life does Ave keep to herself? Is Jack justified in his
anger, or does he, too, keep some aspects of his life private?
Which ones?

10. Ave's daughter, Etta, is a main character in the book. Ave
describes her as "wide open, and yet very private." What
parallels can you draw between Ave and Etta, and how
are the two characters different? How is Etta a product
of Jack Mac's influence? How does she cope with her
brother's death?

11. How do the women of Big Stone Gap--Fleeta, Pearl, Iva
Lou--function as a sort of Greek chorus for Ave? How
does Ave affect each of their lives, and how do they,
in turn, influence hers? How has each woman evolved
throughout the two books?

12. The reader sees Ave Maria in a brand-new environment
when she travels to Italy. Which facets of her personality
come to the forefront? To what factors do you attribute
this change in attitude and appearance?

13. While in Italy, Ave imagines what her life would have been
like had her mother not married Fred Mulligan. How do
you envision Ave's life if she had grown up in Italy? Would
it have been more or less fulfilling?

14. Ave's haircut spurs an absolute transformation. In which
other ways does her appearance play a role throughout
the book? Of which other novels is this reminiscent?

15. What does Pete represent to Ave, both literally and figuratively?
How does he reawaken passion in her?

16. Theodore dismisses Ave's assertion that she didn't really
have an affair with Pete. How is this juxtaposition of
"word vs. deed" a recurrent motif in the book? What examples
can you find in the behavior of Ave, Jack Mac, and
their friends?

17. When Jack Mac and Ave have their confrontation about
Karen Bell, Ave admits that she wanted him to "take her
pain away." Besides Joe's death, what other issues has Ave
Maria grappled with throughout her life? How has she
usually dealt with any pain she has suffered?

18. Do you believe that Jack Mac consummated his affair
with Karen Bell? What evidence do you have for that
conclusion?

19. Jack Mac tells Ave, "I truly believed in us, and you never
did." What actions echo Jack Mac's assertion? How does
Jack Mac demonstrate his love for Ave?

20. At the end of Aunt Alice's life, Ave makes an effort to reconcile
with her. To what do you attribute this change of
heart? How does Ave's relationship with Alice compare to
the one she enjoys with her "Eye-talian" relatives?

21. What significance do you derive from the fact that Jack
Mac and Pete get along immediately? What does Pete's appearance
in Big Stone Gap, as promised, indicate about his
character? How is he similar to Jack Mac, and how is he
different?

22. Do you feel that this book is a lead-up to Etta's stand-alone
story? How do you envision Etta's adolescence and
adulthood?

23. Adriana Trigiani, the book's author, also is an accomplished
playwright. How does this novel have the feel of a
play--whether through Trigiani's use of dialogue, setting,
conflict, or any other literary device?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    Another hit for Adriana Trigiani!

    I love the characters and the story of Ave Maria. This book was so touching and it enjoyed it very much.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2005

    What happened?

    I wasn't upset, but what happened to this second book in the trilogy? I can only hope we return to the amazing writing of Big Stone Gap in book three. This one was ok, maybe because I loved returning to a beautiful place and time. I loved the characters returning to make me laugh. These things we're all here in round two but without the heart. The story was ok, I loved visiting Italy and watching Etta grow up. But missed the amazement of Big Stone Gap that kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't find this had any 'POW' in it. Just a story of a married couple trying to cope with life. Don't worry...I'm on to book three with hopes of loving it as much as the first!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Would recommend this series.

    Adriana Trigiani did a great job with this series. It has a little bit of everything ... relationships between mother and daughter, wife and husband, family and friends. She blends the environment of Appalachia with Italy and Scotland. If you are looking for a wonderful series, you are in for a treat.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2009

    I was surprised, but not in a bad way.

    I wasn't expecting this to be what it was, and it took me off guard. After Big Stone Gap, I had anticipated something humorous, and certainly less intense. But, once I switched gears and put all my previous notions away, I read this book with the interest and enjoyment that I had hoped for.

    Trigiani's pacing is excellent, and the emotions she asks us to share are believable and at times thought-provoking. Though I did find the trip to Italy and the man who becomes her almost-lover to be somewhat far fetched, I still liked the book and would recommend it to others.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great follow-up in the Big Stone Gap Series

    The characters are alive and kicking in this great follow-up to the first book in this series, Big Stone Gap.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2006

    can't put it down

    I have read the whole trilogy in a week ,it is so good I couldnt put it down and read at least 50 pages at one time. I have read most of her other books too ,just going to start 'Roccocco'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    Andrea

    Im a virg. My gf only ever used toys and we masturbd in the shower together...she did the work lol

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Great follow up to first book

    I enjoyed the first novel, so I was excited about having a the chance to follow up with all the characters from Big Stone Gap. Easy to get involved once again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2013

    4 1/2 Stars!!! I loved this book even more than the first one. S

    4 1/2 Stars!!! I loved this book even more than the first one. Such a great story of marriage and discovery. Adriana Trigiani has such an amazing way of developing the characters so that you feel as if you truly know them. I cannot wait to read the third book in this series, "Milk Glass Moon". 

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Continuing the Story

    I really enjoyed the first book, and I mostly enjoyed this one. I just found it to be overly sad without the quirkiness I loved in the first one. It was nice to know how things turned out for everyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    lookee hear

    gud boke
    iinjoid it

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    an avid reader

    I loved this book. To me, it was much better than Big Stone Gap. It is a very realistic story about mid-life. Can't wait to see what happens in Milk Glass Moon.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2004

    Appealing book ...

    Very enjoyable read, recommended but not unforgettable. The soul searching drags on a little too long and makes the reader a little unsympathetic towards Ave Maria. However, the characters are all likeable and it is certainly an identifiable book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2003

    A bit morose, but a decent follow up to Big Stone Gap

    Ave Maria does quite a bit of soul searching in this novel, which is fine, but I felt it slowed down the pace of the book. A pretty good read, however, I enjoyed Big Stone Gap more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    good, but not great...

    Honestly, I was disappointed in BCH compared to BSG. I was caught off-guard by the seriousness of the subject matter. Although it's certainly realistic in today's society I was hoping for more humor. Overall the book was good, but not what I'd call great. I would still recommend it though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2003

    Loved Big Cherry Holler

    I enjoyed the Big Stone Gap - the first book in this series, but....I loved Big Cherry Holler even more! The characters returned, and the relationships grew!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2002

    A Great Sequel!

    Adriana Trigiani has done it again! She took us back to the Blue Ridge Mountains to share life with Ave Maria. Loved Big Stone Gap, loved Big Cherry Holler!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2002

    Awesome!!!

    I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book after I read 'Big Stone Gap'. It was just as good!! I laughed out loud and a few pages later there were tears in my eyes. I didn't want the book to end. I'm hoping the next book isn't too long away! Enjoy.. I certainly did.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2001

    Absolutely loved this book!!

    I have just finished Big Cherry Holler. I had to read it immediately after reading Big Stone Gap because I couldn't get enough of Ave Maria, Jack, Iva Lou and all of the other colorful characters that filled these two books from cover to cover. Adriana, please won't you take us back to Big Stone Gap again in more sequels?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2001

    People and places so real you feel they ought to ask you in for coffee!

    I loved Big Stone Gap, so I bought Big Cherry Holler. I'm not disappointed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews

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