Big Stone Gap

Big Stone Gap

by Adriana Trigiani

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345438324
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/15/2002
Series: Big Stone Gap Series , #1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 86,439
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.09(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her fifteen bestsellers, including the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker’s Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Lucia, Lucia; the Valentine series; the Viola series for young adults; and the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table. Trigiani reaches new heights with All the Stars in the Heavens, an epic tale from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She is the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary Queens of the Big Time. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.


Read an Excerpt

This will be a good weekend for reading. I picked up a dozen of Vernie Crabtree’s killer chocolate chip cookies at the French Club bake sale yesterday. (I don’t know what she puts in them, but they’re chewy and crispy at the same time.) Those, a pot of coffee, and a good book are all I will need for the rainy weekend rolling in. It’s early September in our mountains, so it’s warm during the day, but tonight will bring a cool mist to remind us that fall is right around the corner.
 
The Wise County Bookmobile is one of the most beautiful sights in the world to me. When I see it lumbering down the mountain road like a tank, then turning wide and easing onto Shawnee Avenue, I flag it down like an old friend. I’ve waited on this corner every Friday since I can remember. The Bookmobile is just a government truck, but to me it’s a glittering royal coach delivering stories and knowledge and life itself. I even love the smell of books. People have often told me that one of their strongest childhood memories is the scent of their grandmother’s house. I never knew my grandmothers, but I could always count on the Bookmobile.
 
The most important thing I ever learned, I learned from books. Books have taught me how to size people up. The most useful book I ever read taught me how to read faces, an ancient Chinese art called siang mien, in which the size of the eyes, curve of the lip, and height of the forehead are important clues to a person’s character. The placement of ears indicates intelligence. Chins that stick out reflect stubbornness. Deep-set eyes suggest a secretive nature. Eyebrows that grow together may answer the question Could that man kill me with his bare hands? (He could.) Even dimples have meaning. I have them, and according to face-reading, something wonderful is supposed to happen to me when I turn thirty-five. (It’s been four months since my birthday, and I’m still waiting.)
 
If you were to read my face, you would find me a comfortable person with brown eyes, good teeth, nice lips, and a nose that folks, when they are being kind, refer to as noble. It’s a large nose, but at least it’s straight. My eyebrows are thick, which indicates a practical nature. (I’m a pharmacist—how much more practical can you get?) I have a womanly shape, known around here as a mountain girl’s body, strong legs, and a flat behind. Jackets cover it quite nicely.
 
This morning the idea of living in Big Stone Gap for the rest of my life gives me a nervous feeling. I stop breathing, as I do whenever I think too hard. Not breathing is very bad for you, so I inhale slowly and deeply. I taste coal dust. I don’t mind; it assures me that we still have an economy. Our town was supposed to become the “Pittsburgh of the South” and the “Coal Mining Capital of Virginia.” That never happened, so we are forever at the whims of the big coal companies. When they tell us the coal is running out in these mountains, who are we to doubt them?
 
It’s pretty here. Around six o’clock at night everything turns a rich Crayola midnight blue. You will never smell greenery so pungent. The Gap definitely has its romantic qualities. Even the train whistles are musical, sweet oboes in the dark. The place can fill you with longing.
The Bookmobile is at the stoplight. The librarian and driver is a good-time gal named Iva Lou Wade. She’s in her forties, but she’s yet to place the flag on her sexual peak. She’s got being a woman down. If you painted her, she’d be sitting on a pink cloud with gold-leaf edges, showing a lot of leg. Her perfume is so loud that when I visit the Bookmobile, I wind up smelling like her for the bulk of the day. (It’s a good thing I like Coty’s Emeraude.) My father used to say that that’s how a woman ought to be. “A man should know when there’s a woman in the room. When Iva Lou comes in, there ain’t no doubt.” I’d just say nothing and roll my eyes.
 
Iva Lou’s having a tough time parking. A mail truck has parked funny in front of the post office, taking up her usual spot, so she motions to me that she’s pulling into the gas station. That’s fine with the owner, Kent Vanhook. He likes Iva Lou a lot. What man doesn’t? She pays real nice attention to each and every one. She examines men like eggs, perfect specimens created by God to nourish. And she hasn’t met a man yet who doesn’t appreciate it. Luring a man is a true talent, like playing the piano by ear. Not all of us are born prodigies, but women like Iva Lou have made it an art form.
 
The Bookmobile doors open with a whoosh. I can’t believe what Iva Lou’s wearing: Her ice-blue turtleneck is so tight it looks like she’s wearing her bra on the outside. Her Mondrian-patterned pants, with squares of pale blue, yellow, and green, cling to her thighs like crisscross ribbons. Even sitting, Iva Lou has an unbelievable shape. But I wonder how much of it has to do with all the cinching. Could it be that her parts are so well-hoisted and suspended, she has transformed her real figure into a soft hourglass? Her face is childlike, with a small chin, big blue eyes, and a rosebud mouth. Her eyeteeth snaggle out over her front teeth, but on her they’re demure. Her blond hair is like yellow Easter straw, arranged in an upsweep you can see through the set curls. She wears lots of Sarah Coventry jewelry, because she sells it on the side.
 
“I’ll trade you. Shampoo for a best-seller.” I give Iva Lou a sack of shampoo samples from my pharmacy, Mulligan’s Mutual.
 
“You got a deal.” Iva Lou grabs the sack and starts sorting through the samples. She indicates the shelf of new arrivals. “Ave Maria, honey, you have got to read The Captains and the Kings that just came out. I know you don’t like historicals, but this one’s got sex.”
 
“How much more romance can you handle, Iva Lou? You’ve got half the men in Big Stone Gap tied up in knots.”
 
She snickers. “Half? Oh well, I’m-a gonna take that as a compliment-o anyway.” I’m half Italian, so Iva Lou insists on ending her words with vowels. I taught her some key phrases in Italian in case international romance was to present itself. It wasn’t very funny when Iva Lou tried them out on my mother one day. I sure got in some Big Trouble over that.
 
Iva Lou has a goal. She wants to make love to an Italian man, so she can decide if they are indeed the world’s greatest lovers. “Eye-talian men are my Matta-horn, honey,” she declares. Too bad there aren’t any in these parts. The people around here are mainly Scotch-Irish, or Melungeon (folks who are a mix of Turkish, French, African, Indian, and who knows what; they live up in the mountain hollers and stick to themselves). Zackie Wakin, owner of the town department store, is Lebanese. My mother and I were the only Italians; and then about five years ago we acquired one Jew, Lewis Eisenberg, a lawyer from Woodbury, New York.
 
“You always sit in the third snap stool. How come?” Iva Lou asks, not looking up as she flips through a new coffee-table book about travel photography.
 
“I like threes.”
 
“Sweetie-o, let me tell you something.” Iva Lou gets a faraway, mystical twinkle in her eye. Then her voice lowers to a throaty, sexy register. “When I get to blow this coal yard, and have my big adventure, I sure as hell won’t waste my time taking pictures of the Circus Maximus. I am not interested in rocks ’n’ ruins. I want to experience me some flesh and blood. Some magnificent, broad-shouldered hunk of a European man. Forget the points of interest, point me toward the men. Marble don’t hug back, baby.” Then she breathes deeply, “Whoo.”
 
Iva Lou fixes herself a cup of Sanka and laughs. She’s one of those people who are forever cracking themselves up. She always offers me a cup, and I always decline. I know that her one spare clean Styrofoam cup could be her entrée to a romantic rendezvous. Why waste it on me?
 
“I found you that book on wills you wanted. And here’s the only one I could find on grief.” Iva Lou holds up As Grief Exits as though she’s modeling it.

Table of Contents

TOC not available

What People are Saying About This

Rosanne Cash

I have not enjoyed a novel this much since Cold Mountain. The characters are exquisitely and richly drawn. Ave Maria Mulligan is so real, she is almost a miracle. The story is poignant without being sentimental, and funny without being mean, and the story, the people, and the place of Big Stone Gap have stayed with me long after reading the book.

Elinor Lipman

Have there ever been more engaging late bloomers than Ave Maria Mulligan and her circle of doting, meddlesome friends? Adriana Trigiani writes with wit and grace about misguided romances and family secrets, and so very winningly about generous hearts. This urban Yankee reader found hours of bliss in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Fannie Flagg

Funny, charming and original!

John Berendt

Big Stone Gap is a southern novel that has the ring of truth, by which I mean its characters are bizarre, its story is hilarious, and that it hooked me on page one.

Whoopi Goldberg

It is one of my all-time favorite novels...unforgettable.

Reading Group Guide

1. Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion


Why do you think the author set Big Stone Gap during the late 1970s instead of today?

2. The coal mines are the site of danger and oppressiveness, while the caverns Ave Maria and Theodore visit reveal the beauty hidden deep in the earth. How does this dichotomy reflect Ave Maria's inner world during her yearlong crisis?

3. As the novel progresses and Ave Maria learns more about herself and her past, her feelings for Big Stone Gap change from contentment to disassociation to joy. Have your feelings for your hometown changed as youfive changed? How?

4. Ave Maria refers to herself as a 'ferriner,' but when she visits Italy she realizes that her home is in Big Stone Gap. What other works have you read in which the hero or heroine must travel to find his or her home in the world?

5. Ave Maria's description of some events, such as kissing Theodore after the Drama and Jack Mac's reaction to her gratitude for bringing over her Italian family, differs from other people's perspectives. Do you believe Ave Maria's interpretations? Why or why not?

6. Theodore and Ave Maria have romantic feelings for each other, but never at the same time. If their feelings had been more coordinated, do you think they would have entered a lasting marriage? Do you think their 'best friend' relationship will endure after Ave Maria and Jack Mac's wedding?

7. When did you suspect that Ave Maria would fall in love with Jack Mac? What were the clues that the author left?

8. Jack Mac tells Ave Maria, 'Stop thinking.' Is Jack Mac correct? Does too much thinking lead Ave Maria into making the wrong choices? Are her emotions a trustier guide or equally unreliable?

9. A common theme in literature is that the heroine (e.g., Snow White, Cinderella, Jane Eyre, Nancy Drew) must lose a parent or parents before she is free to discover who she really is. Is this merely a literary convention or does it have roots in real life? Does it apply to male characters as well? How much significance does Mrs. Mac's death have to Jack Mac's personal development?

10. Ave Maria feels relief and not much surprise when she learns Fred Mulligan is not her father, and later she recognizes aspects of herself in Mario. Though Fred is not her blood kin, what traits did he pass on to Ave Maria while he raised her? How much of Ave Maria's personality was shaped by nature and how much by nurture?

11. When describing her friend Iva Lou, the majorette Tayloe, and Sweet Sue, Ave Maria focuses on the power of beauty and desirability, but she also cautions Pearl that beauty fades while character endures. How does Pearl synthesize the importance of character with the force of beauty?

12. Both Ave Maria and Worley discover their fathers aren't who they thought they were, but Worley learns of his true parentage when his father is still alive. Do you think Ave Maria's expectations of love and marriage would have been affected if she had learned the truth about Mario before her mother died? How?

13. Ave Maria is named for the mysterious woman who took Ave Maria's mother under her wing. Do you see another meaning in Ave Maria's name? Does it tie in with her developing belief in destiny and faith?

14. Big Cherry Holler, Adriana Trigiani's next novel about the people of Big Stone Gap, jumps forward eight years into Ave Maria and Jack Mac's marriage. Knowing these two characters as you do, do you expect the path of true to love run smooth for them? What quirks do Ave Maria and Jack Mac bring to the relationship that could cause bumps or, conversely, even out the way?

Foreword

1. Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion


Why do you think the author set Big Stone Gap during the late 1970s instead of today?

2. The coal mines are the site of danger and oppressiveness, while the caverns Ave Maria and Theodore visit reveal the beauty hidden deep in the earth. How does this dichotomy reflect Ave Maria?s inner world during her yearlong crisis?

3. As the novel progresses and Ave Maria learns more about herself and her past, her feelings for Big Stone Gap change from contentment to disassociation to joy. Have your feelings for your hometown changed as you?ve changed? How?

4. Ave Maria refers to herself as a ?ferriner,? but when she visits Italy she realizes that her home is in Big Stone Gap. What other works have you read in which the hero or heroine must travel to find his or her home in the world?

5. Ave Maria?s description of some events, such as kissing Theodore after the Drama and Jack Mac?s reaction to her gratitude for bringing over her Italian family, differs from other people?s perspectives. Do you believe Ave Maria?s interpretations? Why or why not?

6. Theodore and Ave Maria have romantic feelings for each other, but never at the same time. If their feelings had been more coordinated, do you think they would have entered a lasting marriage? Do you think their ?best friend? relationship will endure after Ave Maria and Jack Mac?s wedding?

7. When did you suspect that Ave Maria would fall in love with Jack Mac? What were the clues that the author left?

8. Jack Mac tells Ave Maria, ?Stop thinking.? Is Jack Mac correct? Does too much thinking lead Ave Mariainto making the wrong choices? Are her emotions a trustier guide or equally unreliable?

9. A common theme in literature is that the heroine (e.g., Snow White, Cinderella, Jane Eyre, Nancy Drew) must lose a parent or parents before she is free to discover who she really is. Is this merely a literary convention or does it have roots in real life? Does it apply to male characters as well? How much significance does Mrs. Mac?s death have to Jack Mac?s personal development?

10. Ave Maria feels relief and not much surprise when she learns Fred Mulligan is not her father, and later she recognizes aspects of herself in Mario. Though Fred is not her blood kin, what traits did he pass on to Ave Maria while he raised her? How much of Ave Maria?s personality was shaped by nature and how much by nurture?

11. When describing her friend Iva Lou, the majorette Tayloe, and Sweet Sue, Ave Maria focuses on the power of beauty and desirability, but she also cautions Pearl that beauty fades while character endures. How does Pearl synthesize the importance of character with the force of beauty?

12. Both Ave Maria and Worley discover their fathers aren?t who they thought they were, but Worley learns of his true parentage when his father is still alive. Do you think Ave Maria?s expectations of love and marriage would have been affected if she had learned the truth about Mario before her mother died? How?

13. Ave Maria is named for the mysterious woman who took Ave Maria?s mother under her wing. Do you see another meaning in Ave Maria?s name? Does it tie in with her developing belief in destiny and faith?

14. Big Cherry Holler, Adriana Trigiani?s next novel about the people of Big Stone Gap, jumps forward eight years into Ave Maria and Jack Mac?s marriage. Knowing these two characters as you do, do you expect the path of true to love run smooth for them? What quirks do Ave Maria and Jack Mac bring to the relationship that could cause bumps or, conversely, even out the way?

Customer Reviews

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Big Stone Gap 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 192 reviews.
My_Purple_Pen More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was okay, but it definitely is not great. The plot was predictable most of the time, except for the places where it was just weird. The twists were never clever, but mostly strange. I didn't like the characters at all. Sure they were different, and a few were possible to relate to, but for the most part it felt like she was trying to hard too create quirky characters and in the end she made a bunch of crazy, unrealistic people. And the romance? Awkward. Even though Trigiani was setting it up through the whole book, it felt weird. I kept hoping for someone new to come along and steal Ave Maria's heart so that she wouldn't be with Jack. All in all, not great. The best thing that I can say for this book is that I was able to finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The 'plot twists and turns' were absurd and did not relate to REAL life. I found many of them to be completely ridiculous and annoying and ruined the story. It was an okay book, but not anything to knock your socks off or write home about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A classic of introspection that exposes the subtle influences of one's upbringing. Easy-flowing 1st person narrative that sometimes broke my heart while inviting me to consider my own life: my relationship with my father, my husband, my daughter, my life as a single. Secrets intended to spare those we love, secrets kept out of shame, and the healing power of truth and honesty are the underlying themes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story of an unmarried lady in a Southern Virginia town who eventually works through her background and foreground problems. This seems to have cleared the air to allow her to love a friend of 30 years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. The plot was interesting which made me just want to keep reading! I cant wait to read the other books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. One really feels they know the characters and can relate to them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never read any of her books this was my first. My friend gave me a author signed copy from a luncheon I missed her speaking at. After the first chapter I was hooked. When I finished the book I couldn't wait to get the next one in the series. Hopefully, she will continue writing about this town and the people it in it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took me a little while to get into this book for some reason, but I eventually found myself really hooked to each character and situation. The southern dialect did annoy me at some parts, but it really just made a better impression of how the characters lived. Ave Maria is a great character that stands up for herself and knows how to take a chance. This is a really good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Big Stone Gap is a close knit town, where all the players are familiar with each other. The narator, Ave Maria, feels as though she is a plain woman, who does not stand out in the town - the town spinster. Throughout the novel, Ave Maria, and the reader, come to learn what effect she has on the other town members. She learns how significant she actually is. This is a heartwarming read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a beautifully written story, and likes to read about wacky small town characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first Adriana Trigiani book and it won't be my last! I laughed at the wry, witty social observations of small town life, spoken with a bit of self deprication. I cried at the hard learned lessons of love, family and self. It is engaging from start to finish. Big Stone Gap is a heartfelt glimpse into small town USA. I'm glad I had the chance to visit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was beautifully written and heartwarming. The characters were well-developed and realistic. I was skeptical when my Mom encouraged me to put down my mystery novels and read this book. I thought I would be bored and would not complete it, but that certainly was not the case. I flew through this novel and read the other 2 in the set as well. Ms. Trigiani is an amazing writer with the ability to make the reader cry and laugh all within the same paragraph. I was completely impressed with the details regarding location descriptions, as well. Do not miss out on this wonderful novel. Ms. Trigiani is a breathe of fresh air...and if you get the chance to see her in person, it is a real treat!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have reread this book at least three times. It is like an old friend that you love to visit from time to time. This book is funny yet poignant. Adriana Trignani really knows how to convey feelings through her prose.
LovelyLitLady More than 1 year ago
I found this book on a whim and I just requested all of Trigiani's books from my library after I finished it today. I absolutely love the quaint characters and their town. Ave Maria's character is so real. You can really relate to her, especially in the area of not appreciating all of your blessings that have been in front of you all along. I had to hold my hand over my mouth while my kids were napping because I was laughing so hard at certain passages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It pulled me in right from the start. The characters are comfortable and familiar, and the story has restored my faith in good old-fashioned romance. I just started Big Cherry Holler, and it seems promising.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With a charming Appalachian background, this debut novel by Adriana Trigiani was very enjoyable! Ave Maria engrossed me with her insecurities, her wit, and her refusal to be pitied as the 'town spinster'. All of the characters were interesting, from Theodore - her soul mate, to her bookmobile friend Iva Lou, to Pearl, the young girl she takes under her wing. I hope Adriana is working on a second book!
khiemstra631 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book so I decided to listen to it again on yet another drive to a dog show. It was just as good the second time around, like visiting with old friends. In eight years time, one forgets a lot of the details while remembering the important parts. I highly recommend this one if you have not already indulged.
MsBeautiful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed reading about the culture in the book's setting
Blakelyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is nothing better to me than a good, southern novel. This one fits the bill. Set in Big Stone Gap, VA, it tells the story of Ave Maria, the self-proclaimed "Town Spinster", who runs the pharmacy in town and is grieving the recent loss of her mother. Her world takes a sharp turn when she learns that the man she knew as her father, who didn't quite live up to his responsibilities, was never her real father after all. Once Ave finds her real dad, and subsequently "finds herself", all the pieces of her life seem to fall into place.
lincroft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked it. Maybe it was a cultural thing but I could identify with Ave Maria in some ways.
tipsister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani, is a charming novel with a wonderful cast of characters. The main character is Ave Maria, a thirty-five year old pharmacist who considers herself the town spinster. After her mother passes away, she learns the truth about who she really is and that the man who raised her was not her biological father. As her world tilts beyond what she has always known, she finds herself letting go of her past and looking toward the future for the first time in her life. The characters that make up the town add so much to the charm of the novel. It wouldn't be the same without Iva Lou, Pearl, or Theodore. There is even a cameo by Elizabeth Taylor! If I have any complaint, it's that it took a while to get to the romance. Ave was just way too stubborn!This is the first novel I've read by Adriana Trigiani and I enjoyed it. It is a sweet story and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys smiling!
kimreadthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
PlotAve Maria Mulligan is the pharmacist in Big Stone Gap. Her father Fred, who she was not close to, died years ago, leaving her the pharmacy chain. Her Italian mother, Fiametta, died last year after a long struggle with cancer. Ave Maria receives news from her mother's will that she was not Fred Mulligan's daughter, but Mario Barbari's in Italy. Her mother became pregnant while unmarried and fled Italy, meeting Fred in the U.S. Ave Maria tries to find her father throughout the book, eventually reuniting with him and her mother's remaining family in Italy near the end of the story. Meanwhile, Ave desires to find someone to love to spend her life with as she is middle-aged and afraid of being a spinster; still, she does not necessarily want to open herself up to being loved. She has a close friendship with high school band director Theodore Tipton; the two try briefly to make a love connection, but realize they are just best friends. After a tumultuous back-and-forth, Jack MacChesney and Ave Maria get together. Jack had been dating divorceé Sweet Sue Tinsley and then was briefly seen with new school teacher Sarah Dunleavy, but had loved Ave since 6th grade. She never allowed herself to see his interest. Jack proposed rather abruptly to Ave (before any dating or discussion), which turned her off. He paid and arranged for her Italian family to surprise her in Big Stone Gap, where she met her biological father for the first time. All is a happy ending.SettingBig Stone Gap, Virginia - a small town in the Appalachian mountains. Takes place in 1978-1979CharactersAve Maria Mulligan is independent and self-supporting. Jack MacChesney is respectful, thoughtful, and a good worker at the coal mines. Iva Lou Wade Makin is the sexy town librarian who runs the bookmobile and finally settles down and marries Lyle Makin during the course of the book. Ave's coworkers Fleeta and teenage Pearl keep Ave sane at work. Ave and Peal have a strong relationship, where Pearl's work gives her some self-confidence.PacingVery leisurely, occasionally slow.NarrationFirst person from Ave's perspective.=====Language - PG-13 - a few brief instances of harsh language. e.g., 1 BS, 1 f*ck, 2 SOB.Sex - PG - mention of sex. Premarital sex is inferred, but happens "off-camera"Violence - noneHomosexuality - none
jennannej on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pleasantly surprised by this book. The name sounded a bit hokey and didn't really inspire me to read the book, but I found a cheap copy at a thrift store and picked it up anyway. 'What the hey.' I thought, 'I can always bookcross it!'Imagine my surprise when I was completely enthralled with this book. It was not your cookie cutter plot. There were so many twists and turns that I never knew what was coming next. The characters were sympathetic and nothing was completely ridiculous. I co...more Pleasantly surprised by this book. The name sounded a bit hokey and didn't really inspire me to read the book, but I found a cheap copy at a thrift store and picked it up anyway. 'What the hey.' I thought, 'I can always bookcross it!'Imagine my surprise when I was completely enthralled with this book. It was not your cookie cutter plot. There were so many twists and turns that I never knew what was coming next. The characters were sympathetic and nothing was completely ridiculous. I could see something like this happening in real life.I don't really want to say much about the story, because it's just too good to spoil with any hints. It's about life in a small town near Appalachia. It's about family and love. It's about friendship and learning more about yourself.Just do yourself a favor. Give it a shot.
kerinlo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the most part I liked this book and I enjoyed reading it. I found the main character and the supporting characters to be interesting and quirky. I especially liked Trigiani's style and her descriptions of small town life in the Virginia mountains. However, by the end of the book, I found Ave Maria to be a tad irritating because she is so thickheaded about her relationship with Jack Mac (who sounds like heaven!). I found Ave Maria's character to have a lopsided evolution and her inability to see what is in front of her to be irritating and unbelievable. I did root for her character to find happiness, but to also quit the whining. If Theodore is such a good friend, why doesn't he just tell her truth already? The book also seems to push too much into the last 30 pages and seems to be trying to wrap things up too quickly. This is a good Sunday afternoon read.
Cailin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I saw this book several times and never had any interest in reading it until I saw an interview with the author, Adriana Trigiani. She seemed such a down to earth and charming person that my interest was piqued. I am happy I picked it up! It's a sweet story of Ave Maria Mulligan and her journey to finding herself. The story is at times, sad, sweet, and hilarious. I especially enjoyed the peripheral characters like Iva Lou and Pearl. I have since gotten the rest of the books in this series, along with a couple more and am looking forward to reading those.
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ave Maria Mulligan is the town pharmacist in Big Stone Gap, VA. When her mother dies, she leaves a letter telling her big secret, which changes everything Ave Maria always knew about herself. This is a fun little story of life in the mountains, with all the attendant personalities. Sometimes Ave Maria acts stupidly, but she realizes it eventually, and of course there's a happy ending. This was a good book to read when I found myself in need of a little fluff.