Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
Review by Carole (craftnut)
The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains are the setting for this wonderful novel of small town life and a big secret. Ave Maria (yes, like the prayer) is a 35-year-old woman who has given up on ever finding a husband. She is a frequent visitor to the town bookmobile where she enjoys a book on the Chinese art of reading faces. References to the characteristics of faces she sees is sprinkled throughout the story and adds to the descriptions of the people she knows. Her life is well ordered, as she is not only the town pharmacist who delivers prescriptions, but also director of the town’s long running summer outdoor drama, and co-captain of the local Rescue Squad. A fictionalized campaign stop by candidate John Warner and his wife Elizabeth Taylor set the town on edge as they plan a lavish celebration and tribute.
This is a story populated with all the quirky characters expected in a small town novel, but it is primarily a story of a woman’s search for truth. Ave Maria seeks to understand herself and come to grips with the death of her mother. Although there is some sadness in this novel, is it ultimately uplifting.
Her life takes a sudden turn as a letter is given to her by the lawyer for her mother’s estate. She suddenly finds all she knew changed. Her search for her roots throws her into a crisis as she deals with the consequences, a coal mining accident, a vindictive aunt, and the attention of two suitors. Her life careens out of control as she races from one obligation to the next, while trying to figure out what it is she really wants. She makes life-changing decisions, but ultimately, as she finds out more, she discovers what is truly important.
I really liked this book. I thought it was going to be a humorous look at small town life in the mountains and some of it is just that. But, the story is compelling and I found it impossible to put down, finishing the book in just two days. There are three more in the series, and I look forward to the story continuing.