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The Queen of the Big Time

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  6,300 ratings  ·  514 reviews
Known and loved around the world for her sweeping Big Stone Gap trilogy and the instant New York Times bestseller Lucia, Lucia, Adriana Trigiani returns to the charm and drama of small-town life with Queens of the Big Time. This heartfelt story of the limits and power of love chronicles the remarkable lives of the Castellucas, an Italian-American family, over the course of ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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I had literally two minutes to pick something at the library. I don't love Adriana Trigiani, although I liked the Big Stone Gap books. In this one, I think she made her common error. Really, she writes character-driven fiction. So, the first half where the characters are developing, is engaging and strong. Then, she forgets herself, and drives 50 years of plot in less than 100 pages. It just doesn't work. I wish she had a really good editor because I think she could do better work than this...
It's been awhile since I've gotten back to Adriana Trigiani, & I forgot how much I loved her stories & how hard it is to explain why I like them so much. What I can say is that Queen of the Big Time is similar to Trigiani's other stories about hard-working emotionally isolated Italian American women.

Trigiani is one of the few authors my mom & I read together, mostly because my mom hardly ever finds the time to read a good book (I don't blame her, she's a busy woman). My aunt sent us
Nella Castelluca is the third daughter of an Italian family living on a farm outside Roseto, Pennsylvania. Her parents and many other Italian families immigrated to the area in the late 1800s. Nella is a good student who wants to go to high school in town and become a teacher. Her dreams are dashed when her father has an accident, and she has to work in a clothing mill to help support the family. Soon she shows strong managerial skills and advances in her job.

Meanwhile she meets Renato Lanzara,
The Queen of the Big Time is the Catholic schoolgirl who sells the most tickets for the local parish fundraiser. Nella Castelucca, at 14, embraces this concept fully: If you work hard, you will be rewarded. Born of Italian immigrants, in a small Pennsylvania town of Italian immigrants, Nella wants to go become a teacher. However, when her father is injured, Nella and her older sisters go to work to help the family. Instead of going to high school, Nella takes a job at the local blouse factory an ...more
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I got it as part of a Blind Date with a Book program my library was doing for the month of February. I didn't know what book it was until I got it home and tore off the brown paper wrapping. I've read Lucia, Lucia by this author and that was pretty good. The Queen of the Big Time kind of had a formulaic plot with just a few surprises. The first part gave us lots of detail about Nella's life as a 14 year old growing up on the family farm, longing to go ...more
What is true love? Would you know it if you saw it? Are you sure? That is the central question of this heartwarming story. Nella Castelluca is the middle of five daughters in an Italian family on a farm on the outskirts of a Pennsylvania mining town made up of Italian immigrants. She is very smart, but her family is so poor they can't afford the trolley fare to send her to the high school in town. She falls in love with the dashing Renato, while the steady and determined Franco falls in love wit ...more
I pulled this book out hoping for a light-hearted read. I had high hopes because the setting was in my home state, and the characters were mostly Italian women who would be contemporaries of my mother. I found I could barely get through it.

For me, everything was just wrong with this book. The plot was trite and simplistic, the writing wasn't very good overall and filled with cliches, and the characters simply didn't resonate for me. It covered too much ground--basically the protagonist's entire
Kind of depressing. Plus I think that Renato is overrated and it was frustrating that she never fully appreciates Franco. But it's a fairly realistic portrayal of how the drudgery of a mundane job can suck the joy out of life. And definitely a reminder not to take anything for granted - success, prosperity, time, relationships - especially relationships. The Big Stone Gap trilogy (actually I just realized that there are 4 books - what is that called?? A series?) is still my favorite from Adriana ...more
This Italian-American family saga is an enjoyable read. The story spans the life of Nella Castelucca beginning when she is 14 and has the opportunity to continue education and pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately tragedy interferes with her plans and she finds herself on a completely different life path, but makes the best of her situation. Nella is an interesting and complex character, as are her friends and family. AT writes in a smooth and easy style.
Donna Huber
The Queen of the Big Time was a charming story following the life an Italian immigrant family. I really enjoyed it. It is on the light and fluffy side, but I did tear up a time or two. See my full review
It was great summer reading. The characters were endearing and the story although somewhat predictable still kept my interest. It did bring up a few deeper messages, particularly a reminder of appreciating what we have and not longing for what might have been.
Another good story about an immigrant Italian family in the early 1900s making it in America. The story follows Nella Castelluca from when she is 15 and hopes to be able to continue her schooling and become a teacher through the ups and downs of her life. Born and raised on a farm in Pennsylvania, she must quit school and go to work in the blouse factory to help her family. Her work ethic, common sense, and habit of saying what she thinks gets her promoted and successful. Her family ties remain ...more
This is a fabulous book. It's very touching and the story
just is written in a very heartfelt manner. Be sure to have kleenex nearby. It's the life of an Italian family starting in the 1900's.
I liked this book but found myself being sad for the main character, in the end.

It's a story about the main character wanting something from her life. But when life events happen, she has to change direction (as we all do). She marries someone that is dependable and safe but not the love of her life. I'm sure a lot of women have done the same and it's not a bad life, just not one she would've necessarily chosen.

I was sad for her in the end because of all the years she kept this one man in her
Jessica (Books: A true story)
This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of the south. There's a guy that Nella, the main character, pines for but can't have (who is kind of whiney by the way) and she doesn't fully love the one she has until it's too late. And then she returns to Tara...uh, I mean the farm she grew up on.

We had a great discussion in my book club about this one. It was a book that made you want to have more
Apr 03, 2007 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any woman
Another wonderful book by Adriana Trigiani. The main character is another strong woman that is likeable and admirable. An interesting story with unexpected turns. Definitely a good one.
Joy Olivia
Jun 14, 2007 Joy Olivia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my Nana
This book was very charming. I loved it and the main character Nella. Even though it was sad from time to time, it was honest and compelling. It was a perfect summer read.
Yet another book by Trigiani that I could barely put down. A charming, relatable story of a farm girl determined to make something of herself and follow her dreams.
I have read all of Adriana Trigiani's books. I have loved each one. Her characters are well developed and the stories touch my heart.
I can't make up my mind with this author. I loved one book, hated one, disliked the next and then got so involved in this one that I cried as I listened to to the end!

I like her people. I like the towns and the histories. I like stories I can be absorbed in. But, and this is a consistent issue, the odd jumps in time confuse me. There are parts of the books that will take 2 hours to cover a week, followed by three events over fifteen years that take fifteen minutes to hear. Some pieces of a stor
In the late 1800s, the residents of a small village in the Bari region of Italy, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, made a mass migration to the promised land of America. They settled in Roseto, Pennsylvania, and re-created their former lives in their new home–down to the very last detail of who lived next door to whom. The village’s annual celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel–or “the Big Time,” as the occasion is called by the young women who compete to be the pageant’s Queen–is the centerpi ...more
I didn't really connect with this book, and I don't think it's because I am not Italian. I have loved some of Adriana Trigiani's books before, especially Lucia, Lucia and the one about the interior decorator (is that in the same town as this one? No, I think that might be set in New Jersey, not Pennsylvania. NEver mind.) The bits about the town, how it came to be, and its progression through time, the bits about Catholicism, and the bits about small town and farm life were great. The writing was ...more
Jennifer Garcia
Her books definitely make me cry enough to use a box of tissue. This one was no exception. With in all of the crying big life lessons are learned. Nella in particular learned something so important and a bit too late. I could relate to her so much so, that most of the book I thought she was me. Her independence and determination made her seem as if she needed no one and cold hearted. Unfortunately, that is not how she saw herself. She was just very honest and opinionated, and although she was in ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys a good family story.
Recommended to Dawn by: I read all of Adriana Trigiani's books.
Adriana Trigiani is my favorite author! I absolutely loved this Italian-American family saga. She writes such beautiful stories about Italian families. Her characters are enjoyable & the way she writes about them makes you feel like you know them & care for them. Every time I read one of her books, I start off thinking I probably won't like it as much as I liked her others, but she never disappoints. I loved how this story lead you through Nella's life. I also loved where the story took ...more
Katherine Sartori
I enjoyed yet another of Trigiani's Italian novels, this time a historical one. Nella Castelluca is the third daughter of an Italian family living on a farm outside Roseto, Pennsylvania. Her parents and many other Italians immigrated there in the late 1800s. Nella is a good student who wants to become a teacher. Her dreams are smashed, however, when her father has an accident. Now she must work in a clothing mill to help support the family. Though young, she begins to show strong managerial skil ...more
Absolutely wonderful story of a Nella Castelluca's life from age 15 to her death. She was the middle daughter of 5, and this story takes you through her life of love and loss, of joy and sorrow, during a time and place in America of the development of our education system, workforce, churches, cities, and most importantly women's rights. The beauty is that Trigiani never makes you feel like she's promoting awareness of such hugely social and historical issues, but they are there, and impact you ...more
This is the story of Nella Castelucca who grew up on a farm on the outskirts of an Italian immigrant community in Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. But it is so much more than that -- it is a beautifully written love story and a story of someones struggles and to overcome the odds and to achieve the American dream while making mistakes along the way. While I've read reviews that say Nella's character is unrealistic since she was unable to fully embrace her husband's love, I disagree. Nella ...more
Adriana Trigiani has found her calling in the telling of stories of spunky Italian American young women who have more courage than I can imagine and tells a lovely story around them filled with details of the cultural lifestyles of this immigrant group. This story begins in 1924 and is told by Nella, the middle child of five daughters, of an immigrant family who settled in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvnia with a group of families from the same village in Italy. They even named their town a ...more
Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani

Book description from Amazon

The industrious Castellucas farm the land outside Roseto. Nella, the middle daughter of five, aspires to a genteel life “in town,” far from the rigors of farm life, which have taken a toll on her mother and forced her father to take extra work in the slate quarries to make ends meet. But Nella’s dreams of making her own fortune shift when she meets Renato Lanzara, the son of a prominent Roseto family. Renato is a worldly, han
I enjoyed this book so much. I ordered the audio version via Paperback Swap and it sat around for months and months before I picked it up. I knew it must have had good reviews or had intrigued me in some way, yet I let it languish because neither the cover art nor the title appealed to me. What a surprise it was.

The characters and setting drew me in and I didn't want to let go. I sat in my car each day when I got home from work because I didn't want to part from the story of the Casteluccas and
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I give this book 5 stars 6 24 Aug 17, 2014 02:00AM  
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Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for 15 bestsellers, including the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker’s Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Lucia, Lucia; Rococo; and the Valentine series. She is also the author of the Viola series for young adults and the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table. She was an award-winning writer/producer of The Cosby Show and A Differen ...more
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“Maybe a first love exists to reaffirm the best parts of yourself, the choices you made when you didn't worry about the consequences. Maybe a first love exists to remind you to be brave in the moment, to stand up for your feelings, instead of shrinking back in the face of potential loneliness.” 20 likes
“The intimacy. The deepest level of love. The knowledge that someone understands you, is rooting for you, is sharing your life.” 2 likes
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