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.
"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.
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.
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."