Home to Big Stone Gap

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In December 1998, after fifty-six years of marriage, Phyllis Greene went from being part of the lifelong unit of "PhyllisandBob" to being just plain Phyllis. To deal with her feelings, she began keeping a journal. Unable to find books with a personal perspective on widowhood, she realized her own reflections could speak to the thousands of women like her, each one with very different yet very similar day-to-day experiences. It Must Have Been Moonglow chronicles the emotional roller coaster of her first years ...
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Overview

In December 1998, after fifty-six years of marriage, Phyllis Greene went from being part of the lifelong unit of "PhyllisandBob" to being just plain Phyllis. To deal with her feelings, she began keeping a journal. Unable to find books with a personal perspective on widowhood, she realized her own reflections could speak to the thousands of women like her, each one with very different yet very similar day-to-day experiences. It Must Have Been Moonglow chronicles the emotional roller coaster of her first years alone in a collection of brief essays, like diary entries, that capture the sadness, the humor, and the triumphs all widows encounter.

She writes about the challenges presented by a quiet, empty house and how best to fill the hours. "Your heart may feel like stone, but your mind needs to keep going," she says. With wit and insight, she muses about the logistics of an evening out with a group of single, older women, none of whom drive very well; about handling the check when going to dinner with a couple; about marketing for one; and about the miracle of friendships on the Internet and the blessings of family. It Must Have Been Moonglow is an intimate, candid, and engaging memoir, not about grief but about inspiration and strength.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The delightful Blue Ridge Mountain town of Big Stone Gap, Va., once again comes to life through the voice of Ave Maria MacChesney in Trigiani's fourth entry in the series. Ave has just returned from an emotional trip to daughter Etta's wedding in Italy with her husband, Jack. As Ave learns to juggle empty-nest freedoms with the ache of loss, Jack's sudden health problems send Ave into a quiet panic. She struggles to be supportive while imagining the worst. Her fears allayed, she ends up directing the town's annual winter musical, a production of The Sound of Music that would send the Von Trapp family heading for the hills. Adding to the mix, Ave's close buddy, Iva Lou, becomes distant when a long-held secret surfaces, threatening their friendship. Thankfully, Theodore Tipton, the town "rock star," returns from New York City for a holiday visit. Memorable characters and smalltown magic (including recipes) continue to have appeal, but unwanted pregnancies, mountain strip-mining, the rearing up of old griefs and a trip to Scotland (given short shrift) have a kitchen-sink feel. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
(See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Trigiani continues the saga of the folks of Big Stone Gap, with Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney facing a number of life-changing moments while directing a Blue Ridge Mountain stage version of The Sound of Music. Blended into the usual mix of appreciative descriptions and comparisons of Virginia and Italy are the Scottish Highlands, as lifelong dreams are realized. This is a novel that could conclude the series, given its much more reflective tone. Well read by Cassandra Campbell, the book draws on the comfort of old friends, family recipes, and familiar scenarios that offer new challenges and promises. Recommended.
—Joyce Kessel

Kirkus Reviews
Trigiani revisits the sleepy Virginia hamlet of Big Stone Gap. The author of the Big Stone Gap trilogy (Milk Glass Moon, 2002, etc.) rejoins her small-town characters as Ave Marie and her husband, Jack MacChesney, head home after attending the wedding of their daughter Etta in Italy. The story focuses on Ave Marie as she tackles the ennui of being an empty-nester. Upon her return, Ave Maria resumes her work at the pharmacy and catches up with friends, but she feels a void and soon volunteers to direct the local musical production. There's plenty of drama waiting for Ave Maria outside the theater doors. First, Jack is stricken with an illness that threatens to widow Ave Maria, and then, Ave Maria has a falling out with her best pal, Iva Lou, over a mysterious stranger who pops up on Thanksgiving Day. Throughout, this can all be a drag: Ave Maria is self-absorbed. The world seems to revolve around her whims and worries. It's a wonder how she has so many men swooning over her. Her meddling can be a source of amusement, but her stubbornness is grating. When it comes to these characters, Trigiani lets no thought go unmentioned and no inane detail missed. The glorious setting and the disarmingly frank supporting characters save this work from being nothing but mediocre dross. Cloyingly sweet tale about life and loss in a small country town.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400060085
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Series: Big Stone Gap Series , #4
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap trilogy; Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo, and co-author of the cookbook Cooking with My Sisters. Trigiani has written the screenplay for the movie Big Stone Gap, which she will also direct. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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

Home to Big Stone Gap

A Novel
By Adriana Trigiani

Random House

Copyright © 2006 Adriana Trigiani
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400060087

chapter 1

Cracker's Neck Holler

1998

As the wind blows through our bedroom window, it sounds like a whistling teakettle. As I wake, for a split second, I forget where I am. As soon as I see our suitcases piled next to the closet door, in the exact place where we dropped them, I remember. Etta's wedding, though it was just one week ago, already seems like a faraway dream.

When we drove up the road last night, our home in Cracker's Neck Holler looked like a castle in the mist. The first days of autumn always bring the cold fog, which makes every twist and turn on these mountain roads treacherous. Etta used to call the September fog the Murky Murk. She told me, "I don't like it when I can't see the mountains, Mama."

This morning they're in plain view again. Since we've been gone, the mossy field out back has turned to brown velvet, and the woods beyond have a silver patina from the first frost. I take a deep breath.

In a way, it's good to be home, where everything is in its place. The same beam of sunlight that comes over the mountain at dawn splits our house in two, one half drenched in brightness and the other in dark shadow. Shoo the Cat sleeps on the same embroidered pillow on the old rocker, as he has every night since hecame to stay. Small, familiar comforts matter when everything is changing.

I pull on my robe. Before I leave the room, I tuck the quilt around my husband. He's not waking up anytime soon; his breath is rhythmic and deep. I make my way through the stone house, and it feels so empty --as it did before there were children. I don't know if there is a sound lonelier than the silence of everybody gone.

The first thing I do is measure the coffee into the old two-part pot Papa gave me from a shop in Schilpario. I put the pot on the stove, and blue gas flames shoot up when I turn the dial. It's chilly, so I take a long, thin match from the box on the mantel and light the fire in the hearth. One of the things I love best about my husband is that he never leaves a fireplace barren. No matter what time of year, there's a crisscross of dry logs on a bed of kindling and a neat newspaper bundle good to go. The paper crackles, and soon the logs catch and the flames leap up like laughter from a school yard.

There's a note on the fridge from my friend Iva Lou: Welcome home. How was it? Call me. When I look inside, she's stocked us for breakfast: a few of Faye Pobst's rolls (I can tell by the shape of the tinfoil package), a jar of fresh jam, a crock of country butter, and a glass carafe of fresh cream, no doubt from her aunt's farm down in Rose Hill. What would I do without Iva Lou? I really don't like to think about it, but I do; in fact, I've been obsessed with loss lately. The past year brought my happy circus to an abrupt close--Spec died, Pearl moved to Boston, and I lost Etta to her new life in Italy. I don't like change. I said that so much, Jack Mac finally said, "Get used to it." Doesn't make it one bit easier, though, not one bit.

There's a deep stack of mail waiting for me on the table. Bills. Flyers. A letter from Saint Mary's College requesting alumnae donations. An envelope for Jack from the United Mine Workers of America--another cut in benefits, no doubt. A puffy envelope from the home shopping channel containing a pair of earrings I bought for Fleeta's birthday on back-order (took long enough). Underneath is a postcard from Schilpario, Italy, the town we'd just left a day ago. I flip it over quickly and read:

Dear Ave Maria,

By the time you get this, Etta will be married, you'll be home, and I'll be back in New York. This is a reminder. Start living your life for YOU. Got it? Love, Theodore.

I put the postcard from my best pal under a magnet on the door of the fridge. I'll take any free advice I can get. Noticing the clutter on the door--all reminders of my daughter and her senior year of high school--I begin to take things down. Etta's high school graduation schedule from last June is taped to a ribbon of photos she took in a booth at the Fort Henry Mall. She looks like a girl in the pictures. Her coppery hair in long braids makes her seem even younger. She is young, too young to be married, and too young to be so far from home. I close my eyes. Is it ever really possible for a mother to let go?

The coffee churns up into the cap of the pot, signaling it's ready to be poured. I grab an oven mitt off its hook and pour the coffee into the mug. The delicious scent of a hickory fire and fresh-roasted coffee is the perfect welcome home.

I kick the screen door open and go out on the porch to watch the sun take its place in the sky over Big Stone Gap. Autumn is my favorite time of year; it seems to say "Let go" with every leaf that turns and falls to the ground and every dingy cloud that rolls by overhead. Let go. (So hard to do when your nature tells you to hang on.)

At the edge of the woods, a spindly dead branch high in a treetop crackles under the weight of a blackbird, which flies off into the charcoal sky until it's a speck in the distance. I have to remind Jack that the property line needs some attention. He's always so busy fixing other people's houses that our needs are last on the list. The wild raspberry bushes have taken over the far side of the field, a tangled mess of wires and vines. Pruning, composting, raking--all those chores will occupy us until the winter comes.

I hear more snapping coming from the woods, so I squint at the treetops, expecting more blackbirds, but there is no movement. The sound seems to be coming from the ground. I lean forward as I sit and study the woods. I hear more crackling. What is it? I wonder. Then something strange happens: I have a moment of fear. I know there's nothing to be afraid of--the sun is up, Jack is inside, and there's a working phone in the kitchen--but for some reason, I shudder.

As I stand to go back into the house, I see a figure in the woods. It looks like a man. A young man. With curly brown hair. I can see that much from my place on the porch, but not much else--his face is obscured behind the thick branches. I raise my hand to wave to him, and open my mouth to shout to him, but as soon as I do, he is gone. I close my eyes and listen for more footsteps. There is nothing but silence.

"What are you doing out here?" Jack says from the door. "It's cold. Come inside."

I follow him into the house. Once we're in the kitchen, I throw my arms around him. "Honey, I saw something. Someone."

"Where?"

"In the woods."

"When?"

"Right now. This second. He was walking along the property line. I saw him."

"Well, it's hunting season."

"He wasn't a hunter."

"Maybe he's hiking."

"No."

"What, then?"

"It was Joe."

"Joe?" Jack Mac is confused--so confused, he sits. "Our Joe?"

I nod.

"Jesus, Ave Maria. You know that's impossible."

"I know." My eyes fill with tears. "But I think I'd know my son when I see him."

Without hesitating, Jack takes his work jacket off the hook, pulls it on, and goes outside. I watch him as he walks across the field and into the woods. He surveys our property line, looking for the young man. Sometimes he takes a few steps into the woods and disappears. I don't know why, but I'm relieved each time he reemerges. I stand at the window waiting as he checks the side yard and his wood shop. I half expect him to return with someone. With Joe. I hear the bang of the screen door.

"There's no one there. It was a long trip. You're tired. You're imagining things. Really." Jack takes off his jacket. "I didn't see any footprints in the mud. Nothing."

"I'm not making it up."

Jack sits and pulls me onto his lap. "What did he look like?"

"He wasn't four years old, like when he died, but older. Like twenty."

"You know that can't be."

"I know." I stand up. I go to the stove and pour a cup of coffee into a mug and hand it to him. I pull the rolls from the tinfoil and put them on a baking sheet. I slide them into the oven to warm them.

"It was someone else," Jack says practically as he sorts the mail.

"Or it wasn't anybody. My eyes played a trick on me. I hadn't even had my coffee, and I'm half asleep here in my big fat empty nest. I miss Etta, and that always makes me miss Joe." I pull the rolls from the oven.

"You're not going to lose it on me, are you?"

"I'm not crazy."

"Good." Jack Mac smiles at me. "I can handle just about anything but a crazy woman." He tosses the junk mail into the fire.

I slather the rolls with butter and jam. Jack studies a bill from the mail, so I feed him the roll. He takes a bite; I turn to get a plate. Jack grabs my hand and licks the jam off my finger. I look into his eyes and see the exact color of the morning sky. He looks at me in that way he never looks at anyone else. With all we've been through, that look still delights me. "What are you doing?" I ask him, but after nineteen years of marriage, I have a pretty good idea.

He doesn't answer; instead, he kisses my neck and loosens the belt on my robe, which conveniently drops to the floor--I say "conveniently" because I'm still holding the roll, which I lob into the sink like a fly ball. As Jack kisses me, my mind begins to race, never a good idea when you're making love--the whole point is to stay in the moment-- but I'm in my memory bank, trying to recall if we've ever made love in the kitchen. Pale blue ribbons of smoke are curling up from plastic windows on the junk mail; I watch until flames engulf the envelopes entirely and turn them to black flakes that float up the flue. I sit on the kitchen table and pull my husband close. The very idea of this makes me feel like laughing, but I don't. I feel his heart racing with mine, and I think, This is what's good about being married--knowing everything about someone and yet still being surprised before breakfast.

I hold Jack's face, then I slide my hands down his neck and outline his broad shoulders, down his arms, muscular from all that construction work. He is drenched in sweat, so I pull him away from the fire. He smiles and takes in deep gulps of air. I listen to his heart, which beats loud and clear and true and, in an instant, too fast.

"I have to sit," Jack whispers. I help him to the rocker by the hearth. He sits down and leans back in it, closing his eyes.

"Are you okay?" I go to the sink and run a glass of water and take it to him.

"I'm old."

"No, you're not. If you're old then I'm old, and I'm not old."

"Dream on." He smiles.

I put my head to his chest. "Wait here," I tell him.

I go to the hall closet and reach up to the high shelf and pull down Spec's emergency kit from the Rescue Squad. Leola, Spec's widow, gave it to me when he died. I've never opened it. Every time I go into the closet, it glares at me from the shelf, hand-painted by Spec in Day- Glo prison orange. I even remember the day he painted it. I was in his office, and he sat at his desk, which was covered in newspaper, and painted the tin box with a tiny brush like it was a Monet. I take it into the kitchen.

Jack is standing by the sink. "What are you doing?"

"Sit down. I'm going to take your blood pressure."

Jack sits down in the chair. I open Spec's emergency kit reverently. He always took such good care of the Rescue Squad equipment--the ambulance always gleamed, the sheets for the stretcher were always bleached a pristine white, his own vest was always pressed; he was very particular. The blood pressure gauge and cuff are nestled neatly among boxes of bandages, iodine, small bottles of tinctures, and tins of salves. I lift it out.

"Give me your arm," I say. I strap the band around his arm. I pump until the numbers spin around like a betting wheel: 170/110. "Honey, you need to go to the doctor." I loosen the band and try not to panic.

"What for?"

"You're off the charts."

"I feel fine." He pulls me close. "You're so good you almost killed me."

"Not funny. How's your vision? Blurry?"

"It's normal," Jack promises.

"I knew something was different. It sounds like an arrhythmia." I put my ear to his chest again. My days on the Rescue Squad taught me a few things--Spec and I dealt with plenty of heart patients--and numbers like Jack's are a pretty good sign that something is very wrong.

"Yoo-hoo!" Iva Lou calls from the front door.

"Just a second," I holler back. I grab my robe and hand Jack his clothes. Jack makes a beeline for the downstairs bedroom and closes the door behind him. I sit down at the breakfast table. "Come on in!"

Iva Lou comes into the kitchen and puts her navy blue patent-leather purse down on the bench. She wears a navy blue suit with a slim skirt and peplum jacket, nipped at the waist by a matching belt with ruby- red grommets. Her high-heeled pumps are navy-and-white-striped with flat red patent-leather bows. Her blond hair is blown straight to her shoulders. If you didn't know Iva Lou by her voice, you'd know her by her perfume. It's not just one perfume either. It's a grab bag--always strong but never too loud. Today she smells like vanilla and peaches with a whoosh of amber.

Continues...

Excerpted from Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani Copyright © 2006 by Adriana Trigiani. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Foreword

1. In one of the early scenes in Home to Big Stone Gap, Ave Maria’s friend Theodore Tipton sends her a postcard that states, “Start living your life for YOU.” By the end of the novel, has Ave Maria taken this advice?

2. When the prospect of using mountaintop removal as an alternative form of coal mining is raised to Ave Maria and her husband, Jack, Ave Maria is instantly against the idea. Do you think she has considered both sides? What exactly is at stake in her argument with Jack about this issue?

3. Why does Trigiani include the character of Randy in her novel? What is the significance of the similarities between Randy and Joe, as well as between Randy’s mother and Ave Maria? What does Ave Maria learn from Randy?

4. Do you think it’s fair for Ave Maria to confront Iva Lou about her mysterious past? What lasting effects does this experience have on the two women’s relationship? What would you do in the same situation?

5. According to Ave Maria’s experience, a woman’s method of coping is to “make things pretty when the road gets rocky,” while Jack “wants facts, answers, and drop-dead ultimatums.” Do you generally agree with her assessment of her husband? How do men and women deal with crises differently?

6. Reflecting upon Etta’s move to Italy, Ave Maria says, “Maybe fate is the footwork of decisions made with loving intentions.” Do you think this is true? What examples from the book support this claim? What examples challenge it?

7. How does the trip to Scotland affect Ave Maria’s relationships with Etta and Jack? Do you feel that anytransformations have occurred?

8. Bridges, both literal and figurative, are an important symbol throughout the novel. Why is one of Jack’s goals to build a bridge? What sorts of bridges are constructed–and dismantled–throughout the course of the novel? Finally, how do you interpret Ave Maria’s statement that “Jack needed to build it, if only to know the deep river that runs through Cracker’s Neck Holler”?

9. Perhaps more so than any of the other novels in this series, Home to Big Stone Gap grapples with the theme of loss. One of Ave Maria’s major challenges throughout the book is learning how to let go and come to terms with moving on. In what ways has she accomplished this by the end of the novel? In what ways is she still hanging on? How do Ave Maria’s experiences compare with your own?

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Reading Group Guide

1. In one of the early scenes in Home to Big Stone Gap, Ave Maria’s friend Theodore Tipton sends her a postcard that states, “Start living your life for YOU.” By the end of the novel, has Ave Maria taken this advice?

2. When the prospect of using mountaintop removal as an alternative form of coal mining is raised to Ave Maria and her husband, Jack, Ave Maria is instantly against the idea. Do you think she has considered both sides? What exactly is at stake in her argument with Jack about this issue?

3. Why does Trigiani include the character of Randy in her novel? What is the significance of the similarities between Randy and Joe, as well as between Randy’s mother and Ave Maria? What does Ave Maria learn from Randy?

4. Do you think it’s fair for Ave Maria to confront Iva Lou about her mysterious past? What lasting effects does this experience have on the two women’s relationship? What would you do in the same situation?

5. According to Ave Maria’s experience, a woman’s method of coping is to “make things pretty when the road gets rocky,” while Jack “wants facts, answers, and drop-dead ultimatums.” Do you generally agree with her assessment of her husband? How do men and women deal with crises differently?

6. Reflecting upon Etta’s move to Italy, Ave Maria says, “Maybe fate is the footwork of decisions made with loving intentions.” Do you think this is true? What examples from the book support this claim? What examples challenge it?

7. How does the trip to Scotland affect Ave Maria’s relationships with Etta and Jack? Do you feel that any transformations have occurred?

8. Bridges, both literal and figurative, are an important symbol throughout the novel. Why is one of Jack’s goals to build a bridge? What sorts of bridges are constructed–and dismantled–throughout the course of the novel? Finally, how do you interpret Ave Maria’s statement that “Jack needed to build it, if only to know the deep river that runs through Cracker’s Neck Holler”?

9. Perhaps more so than any of the other novels in this series, Home to Big Stone Gap grapples with the theme of loss. One of Ave Maria’s major challenges throughout the book is learning how to let go and come to terms with moving on. In what ways has she accomplished this by the end of the novel? In what ways is she still hanging on? How do Ave Maria’s experiences compare with your own?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2007

    Wonderful book to sit by the fireplace!

    I thought the book was outstanding. The characters are very real and the small town is charming. So often life has a way of throwing you curve balls and this one tells you how deal with it in a ever so charming way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani is the final novel in

    Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani is the final novel in the Big Stone Gap Series. For me this was an introduction to some great characters. I certainly hope that you will enjoy them too!
    Synopsis:
    Ave Maria has recently returned from Italy and her daughter’s wedding. How will life continue now that the nest is empty? Memories resurface about her son Joe who died of Leukemia. All of sudden she receives a call from her husband’s work stating he has had a heart attack. Ave Maria rushes to the hospital and finds this list or a bucket list her husband has written. Can she let him know that she has found it? Ave Maria suddenly finds herself with obligations to the town theater and as well as her friends. What surprises are in store for both Ave Maria and Jack?
    My Thoughts:
    This is my second Adriana Trigiani novel. I very much enjoyed it. I listened to this novel. I thought the narration was excellent. It left me with feeling quite contented. I feel that this is what truly makes a novel great!
    The only major negative for me is that this novel is the last in the series. I knew more of the story then I would have liked to because the previous novels were mentioned. I still very much enjoyed the story.
    The characters were well developed. Ave Maria has grown over the previous novels to include her current doubts and fears. The author in the plot uses a major incident with Jack to change her. Jack is the calming force behind the gusto of Ave Maria. Then there is the rest of the town that adds great color to the story. by Jencey Gortney/Writer's Corner

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

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Highly recommended!!

    This book in the Big Stone Gap series is just as superb as the other three. Excellent story by a super author.

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

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Home to big stone gap

    Boring read nothing to hold my interest just a bad retelling of the original .

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 29, 2013

    Loved this series! Thrilled that the author allowed the characte

    Loved this series! Thrilled that the author allowed the characters to continue on through their lives and telling us their story. Sometimes it got a bit much reading the "reminders" of what happened in the previous books, but then again I read them straight through.

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

    Posted August 18, 2008

    totally awesome series

    I have read all the big stone gap stories and have fallen in love with all the characters. These books also inspired me to visit big stone gap and attend the trail of the lonesome pine outdoor drama. I got to talk to some of the towns people and find out a little about Adriana. I recommed this book and that you go to visit big stone gap.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    Dissapointing

    This story turned out to be extremely week, mediocre story, no depth, a waste of time.

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

    Posted February 10, 2007

    Loved it!

    I was so sad to get to the last page. I'm already looking forward to the next book from this talented writer....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Massively Disappointed Fan

    Love the series, hated this book. It was as though the author forgot how the last book ended. I felt the plot was totally from left field, petty, small minded, and judgemental. This book did not leave me with the warm, happy feelings the others did. I would not recommend this to anyone other than to read it to form your own thoughts. TRULY disappointing.

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

    Posted November 13, 2006

    BRAVO!

    What a nice visit with our friends and neighbors in Big Stone Gap! I have missed them. If you are new to the neighborhood you might want to read BIG STONE GAP first but I do think you would enjoy them if you started with this one. The author has done a great job of filling in the blanks as you read all the new adventures of these lovable old friends while not giving up too much of the first three books. It is a winner! I am already looking forward to the next one from my favorite author.

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

    Posted November 21, 2006

    Wonderful to visit!!

    It's wonderful to have another visit at the Big Stone Gap. I have enjoyed all of this author's books (minus Roccoco) and didn't think there would be another sequel in this series. It was a real bonus to just pick up the book and immediately feel immersed into the life of Ave Maria and co. You feel like a part of the story because you know everybody so well. The cast of characters remains interesting even after this fourth installment. Will there be more? I hope so.

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

    Posted November 19, 2006

    Professional Reviewer???

    Apparently the Kirkus reviewer has a bone to pick with Trigiani or he/she is merely a bitter person. Review to your heart's content but leave out the venom - mediocre dross? Ave Maria - self-absorbed? I saw her as a concerned, loving wife, mother and friend. Meddling? If you saw her as meddling I saw her as interested, caring and helpful. Scotland given 'short shrift'? Just how many chapters would you have liked? Ave Maria's and Jack's trip to Scotland was greatly detailed, i.e. points of interest, scenery, customs, culture, food, etc. 'So many men swooning over her' - Just who are the 'many men'? Pete Rutledge and of course, her husband but they don't count as 'many'. Your review really makes me wonder about your ability.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2006

    Avid Fan, Disappointing Read!

    I have read all of Adriana Trigiani's books and I have loved all of them, with the exception of her last two... I was very disappointed in Home to Big Stone Gap. Ava Marie spent more time self-loathing herself and the decisions she has made in her life that we never got to re-visit some of our old, favorite characters. I never felt like the book come together and I was never able to get into it. I hope she has a reunion book with a better outcome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2006

    Home again for Adriana!

    After Rocco, I was disappointed but with Home to Stone Gap, she has once again captured me. I bought it and read it in one day. I could not put it down! I want to hear more of the family and she has left us with many openings to continue with Ave Marie and her family!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews

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