Publisher: Random House 2000
A few years back everybody was reading Adriana Trigiani – except me. Somehow I didn’t feel the call. And then, a library display caught my eye. The books looked like good summer reading material. I decided I would try her debut novel, Big Stone Gap. I chose the audio version because it was the author herself reading the story.
Right away I loved the main character, Ave Maria (pronounced ä vā. She’s very particular about that.) Here are the first few sentences so you can see what I mean:
“This will be a good weekend for reading. I picked up a dozen Vernie Crabbtree’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.”
Ave Maria is a book-lover! My kind of woman. Some other things to know about Ave Maria is that she is thirty-five, single, a pharmacist (she owns the pharmacy), her best friend is Theodore (a teacher at the high school), and she has the ability to read faces. (A Chinese art called siang mien she learned from a book.). In addition to all that, she has a heart of gold and is loyal to her friends. The only negative about Ave Maria is that she’s a bit naive when it comes to men.
As we first meet Ave Maria, we learn that her mother died a few months back. (Her father died over a decade ago.) Although Ave Maria has a good life in her small mountain town, she feels unsettled for some reason. She misses her mother, but it’s more than that. Before our visit with Ave Maria ends, we’ll see Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner visit Big Stone Gap, Ave Maria will make a surprising Italian connection, and there will be three marriage proposals in town.
Big Stone Gap was a nice, comfortable summer read. It had both laugh-out-loud moments and times when I shed some tears. It was a solid story that was very satisfying. The author’s reading of her novel on the audio version was very good with great mountain accents.
Ms. Trigiani wrote this book as the first book in a trilogy. Later she added a fourth book and then, last year the author produced a movie version starring Ashley Judd as Ave Maria. I haven’t seen it yet, but will soon.
If you weren’t among the many people who already read this book, I suggest you find a copy. You’ll like it.