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The Mammoth Cheese

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  740 ratings  ·  99 reviews
When Manda Frank conceives eleven babies with the help of fertility treatments, she brings the world's attention to rural Three Chimneys, Virginia. As the news media descends on the town, even bringing presidential candidate Adams Brooke to Manda's hospital bedside, the residents of Three Chimneys celebrate before the cameras. When all eleven children are born alive, Pasto ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 28th 2004 by Grove Press (first published July 5th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,313)
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Terence
Sheri Holman is becoming one of my favorite authors. The Mammoth Cheese wasn't as much fun to read as my first exposure to Holman - The Dress Lodger - but I still enjoyed it a lot, and Holman continues to create believably quirky characters and believably "mostly happy" endings. As I've mentioned in other contexts, I am drawn toward stories where the protagonists are constantly talking past each other yet - somehow - manage to cope with all that life throws at them and come through in the end.

In
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Nancy
I read a review that compared the plot of this book to the Mississippi River and I have to agree - not only does it pick up and drag along everything it encounters, it's S-L-O-W. In an attempt to create endearingly quirky characters, there are too many side plots and unresolved irrelevant issues, and most of the characters are unlikeable, not endearing. Far too much time is spent focusing on the teen-aged daughter's crush on her middle school history teacher. The only reason I gave this book two ...more
Discoverylover
Left at the OBCZ at Martha's Pantry unregistered, so I'm registering it and will re-release it, possibly reading it first ;)

"When Manda Frank gives birth to an astonishing eleven babies, the world descends on her home town of Three Chimneys, Virginia. Beneath the intense media spotlight the town begins to give up it's long-held secrets: from unrequited love to more dangerous and subversive passions. Meanwhile, cheesemaker Margaret Prickett decides to highlight the plight of the rural community b
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Elizabeth
Jan 26, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes literary fiction, American history, or fantastic writing
I would agree that this book can be compared to the Mississippi River-- that is majestic and rich with history. I loved the complex and nuanced characters, and all of the historical detail. I'm an absolute sucker for this kind of book. I am going to run out, find all of Sheri Holman's other books and read them immediately.
Jamie
This is quirky contemporary fiction set in a small Southern town which has become the center of a media circus following the birth of eleven babies to a local woman. (This was written before the Octomom spectacle.)

That poor woman’s story is interwoven with several others, including that of an indebted small dairy farmer who desperately needs a government bailout, and the farmer’s typically self-centered teenage daughter who’s in love with her reprehensible history teacher.

The original Mammoth Ch
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Jo Ann Hall
Although I probably wouldn't have purchased this book based on the blurb or other reviews, I'm glad my previous time with Sheri Holman (The Dress Lodger) convinced me to give it a try.

I have to smile to myself when I envision this author sitting down at her computer and emailing an editor, "For my next book, I have in mind a subtle story about cheese, Thomas Jefferson's principles, and the darker side of a teenage crush." However, the story works, in great part because the characters are well-de
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Sarah
An attempt at a great American novel, this book is predictable and rife with common themes that develop and play out in a generally predictable way. I've resigned myself to boring movie plots but a novel shouldn't have to worry about the special effects budget or overly-complicated plotlines.
Yet.
This book is very readable, with fairly fleshed-out characters and authentic details that keep the reader from skimming. The lame portrait of a small town facing modernity improves with looks at dairy
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Marvin
The cover made it sound like a wonderfully goofy story, but in fact it's a pretty conventional--and largely disappointing--domestic drama. The characters--particularly the divorced mother, her 13-year-old daughter, and her farmhand (a Thomas Jefferson reenactor)--are appealing, but she puts them in some awkwardly drawn settings, and I didn't understand the function of the secondary story about the birth of 11 babies to a neighbor of the main characters.
Glen
So here are some of the plot ingredients of this novel: a 1200-lb block of cheese to be delivered to the President of the United States, a 13-year old girl who is insufferably self-important and melodramatic, a farm hand who reenacts the role of the historical Thomas Jefferson, a school teacher whose radical father had to escape to Canada during the 60s and who himself has secrets to hide, and a woman who gives birth to 11 children at one time(!!!)--to me these are the promising makings of a goo ...more
Charlotte
I found the charcters in this book pretty unlikeable. "I want to run my farm unprofitably and hopefully someone will come and give me money so it doesn't fail." Although in the end she does decide to fix things herself. The underlying paradigms in the book was just very different from my own ,so it was hard to get into the book.
Heather
This was one of those books that you read and you're pretty positive that there's some other deeper meaning you're supposed to get out of it, but the author has kind of muddled you with unecessary story lines so you can't quite grasp it.
HRS Mullen
Picked this up at used book store just because of the very odd title. Loved it. It is a gentle political satire with a good heart, with everything a novel needs: a romance, a coming of age story, a moral center, a few deaths, a few laugh out loud situations, and a few breathtakingly beautifully written passages you have to read over again. It reminded me of Thomas Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities, only taken to politics in rural America.
The author nails the angst of a teenager growing up in Virgini
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Diane
I enjoyed Holman's previous book, The Dress Lodger, but this one left me cold. One, it may have the worst title in book history. Two, it has a creepy pedophile male teacher and that IMMEDIATELY makes me dislike a book. And three, it has so many subplots and themes that it becomes unwieldy. It is part political satire, part religious critique, part love story, part coming-of-age story. Too much going on for it to be enjoyable. Characters in this book tend to make lengthy, self-important speeches ...more
Marjie Smith
The Mammoth Cheese is a moving story that interweaves history with the complicated life of rural America, where small dairy farms struggle with debt while large corporate farms get the subsidies. In this story, a woman decides to send a giant cheese to the new president because of his sworn support to the small farmer. In doing so, she is both re-enacting and revising history and, as she finds out, neglecting those she’s been given to love in her obsession to save her farm by romancing a senate ...more
Kaion
The Mammoth Cheese is a good illustration of an ambitious mess being more interesting than a safe success. Say what I will about the somewhat long and meandering narrative, Sheri Holman, at the very least, never bores me!

In the backdrop of rural Three Chimneys, Virginia, Sheri Holman tackles no less than (and in no particular order): politics and media, the value and drawbacks of tradition and community, and the meaning of "rebellion" in everyday contemporary American life. These themes emerge f
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Erin
I did enjoy this book for several reasons. For the most part, I found that even though this is somewhat "lighter" fiction, it still resonated with a lot of very revelant truths.
1) It had more believable characters than most. Their personalities were very consistent, with the book revealing how single character traits can have both good and bad sides to them- just as human beings are in reality.
2) The characters' struggles were very, very revelant to life as it is today. Especially as it deals w
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Heather Knight
I read this book as being about the abuse of power. It takes as its victims the emotionally fragile, and its aggressors are those in power: teachers, preachers, politicians. It's the story of a cheesemaker and Nth generation dairy farmer in rural Virginia. She backs a politician because of his farm-friendly platform and pledges to make him a "Mammoth Cheese," as the people of Massachusetts once did for Thomas Jefferson. While she is caught up in her task, her teenage daughter develops a crush on ...more
bup
Partly I miss Virginia, so this book by somebody who really knows her through and through was a welcome drink of water.

The characterizations are wonderfully vivid. In fact, I realized part of the way through, when I was having trouble getting through parts, it wasn't that I didn't like the book, or the careful, observant, dry-humored writing, it's that I detested some of the characters. On purpose, of course. Books aren't interesting if everyone's an angel.

Nobody in this book is perfect. One cha
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Amy
I didn't hesitate to snatch The Mammoth Cheese off the shelf of an indy bookstore in Portsmouth, NH. I'd recently begun another of Holman's novels, The Dress Lodger, and admired it, but had stalled out due to its extraordinarily high ick factor (unusual for me -- see my review of that book). Still, Holman's storytelling interested me enough to grab this one without a second thought. A novel about the forging of an epic artisanal cheese? Featuring a character who is a Thomas Jefferson reenactor?? ...more
David Michael Slater
I can't help but read this as an anti-Semitic passion play. A small "American" town (read: Christian) struggling in a world of greed and lies discovers that Life is about the Future, symbolized by Polly. The villain here is Mr. March, inexplicably Jewish, "a spy," an intellectual, a double-talker, a predator and a pedophile, there to rape the innocent Christian Future. The day is saved when the Virgin is saved from the Jew by violence, after which he is expelled from the community.
Diana E. Young
I picked this book up at a Book Exchange and took a gamble on it since it was a hard-cover book without the slip cover to give any information on what the book was about. It turned out to be a disappointment, but I managed to get through it to the end.

Fortunately, the 2nd half had more substance, but it wasn’t enough to save this book. It is a discombobulated story about a woman who delivered 11 children after fertility drugs. Add in a woman who is about to lose her farm and along the way discov
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Kaethe
In honor of Lisa's delicious vacation, I remember fondly a book about artisanal cheese. Yum. there should be many more stories about cheese. Has Wallace and Grommit taught the world nothing? Thomas Jefferson had a mammoth cheese. Andrew Jackson had a mammoth cheese and he let people in to eat it. If a tour of the White House included the chance to take a bite out of a mammoth cheese, I'd be all over it.
Beth
The Mammoth Cheese came as a loaned book from my male co-worker, which now somewhat suprises me since this book is more than definitely a 'female sort-of' novel.
The storyline of this novel is somewhat fresh and original, however I felt as though the character development lacked and therefore the story did not evolve as successfully as it could have. The author writes to a specific demographic and culture, this book would be well received by middle aged women in the south and southern mid-west. I
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Elissa Lawrence
A small town living in the shadow of its past, this story explores adhering to one's legacy versus creating precedent. The author does a wonderful job of making the characters relatable and tracking their development from beginning to end.
Data
I find that I have three books by Sheri Holman, acquired mainly by accident; I didn't realize until was putting my copy of 'A Stolen Tongue' on my book list that I have novels bythis same author set in the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries. She is an engaging writer, with subjects that vary widely. The common thread is her ability to delve deep into a character's soul. What she finds there is not always pretty.
With a weird mix of politics, child abuse and the multiple birth phenomenon, 'The Mammoth
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Sherri
A real sleeper. You must read through 5+ chapters and by then you are hooked into these peoples lives and have to finish.
William
Received this as a birthday present, not something I would've necessarily picked-out for myself. But, once I started reading it, I know why I got it as a gift. It's set (primarily) in a small Virginia town that is just oozing with history. It's practically littered with Thomas Jefferson trivia. (In fact, it includes a Jefferson impersonator as a main character.) And, of course, it's full of CHEESE. How could one go wrong with that combo?

Seriously, though, the novel does have some heavy themes to
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Norah
I enjoyed this book--it was a good story to get my mind off of the bar exam, and I definitely got sucked into the characters. However, some of the writing was (for lack of a better word) simply annoying. One of the characters is a Thomas Jefferson reenactor, and some of the Jefferson quotes were way too long for their level of connection to the story. I also just didn't like one of the main characters, which made it difficult to read.

However, I'd still recommend it as a good story and a usually
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Laura
This book was like a feel good movie, not complex yet satisfying --- good reading during cold and flu season.
Maria
I love quirky stories and learning something new - this fits the bill. Set in Rural Virginia, it weaves in modern issues like multiple births/infertility treatments, a presidential election, the loss of the family farm, a creepy teacher, a Thomas Jefferson impersonator and artisanal cheese. The main characters decide to recreate the Mammoth Cheese, a 1,235 pound wheel of cheddar given to Thomas Jefferson on his inauguration in 1801. The town pulls together to create their own cheese and to bring ...more
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Sheri Holman graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1988, mastering in Theatre. From there, she became an assistant to a literary agent. In that time, she began to write her first novel, A Stolen Tongue. It was published in 1996. She then went on to write "The Dress Lodger," which was published in 1999. Sheri Holman also wrote "Sondok, Princess of the Moon and Stars," which was publishe ...more
More about Sheri Holman...
The Dress Lodger Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars, Korea, A.D. 595 Witches on the Road Tonight A Stolen Tongue Physical World

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“Every four years we go through the same cycle of hope and disillusionment.” 7 likes
“It's the greatest of Southern honors . . . to have one's name incorporated into a family tree. It's an honor not lightly given.” 6 likes
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