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Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  34,914 Ratings  ·  2,395 Reviews
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 19 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Fawcett Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Georgene I read the book and saw the movie. Of interest to me, primarily, of a the local southwest Virginia tie-in. The author did "move" some of the "real"…moreI read the book and saw the movie. Of interest to me, primarily, of a the local southwest Virginia tie-in. The author did "move" some of the "real" Big Stone Gap features around. This irritated some natives. I thought the characters were well developed in both book and movie, but more so in the book. The book encompasses not only some quirky romance but also depicts a woman's search for identity. Importantly, the action is also set aginst small town life in a coal mining area.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 03, 2013 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Caroline by: Mom
Shelves: fiction, appalachia
If you haven't read and of Adriana Trigiani's books, you MUST put them on your list and then make it a priority to read this entertaining series. Although, not imperative to following the plot, I suggest reading them in order, starting with this one. The simple ups and downs of a woman living in a small Virginia town are delivered with charm and poignancy and I found her writing addictive. I loved the characters and the setting.
Oct 02, 2009 bup rated it did not like it
I have a copy of this book I'd be willing to sell/swap, but it's covered with the dried flecks of my vomit.

Normally I just like or dislike a book, but this book actually made me angry. I wanted to like it - popular book set in small town Virginia - I like Virginia, I miss Virginia. I'd really love a good book set in Virginia. Someone let me know where I can find one.

Partial list of things I hate:

1) The voice seems fake. I know the author grew up in Big Stone Gap. I know people in Virginia are ou
Jan 29, 2012 Stina rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I am so sick of female characters who are confused with their lives and themselves and have to stomp off when someone is trying to tell them something. I think miscommunication is a weak plot point and this book would have been better if the author had the balls to give the main character some balls as well.
Feb 12, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: southern
3.5 Star Rating. Fun, light read with some good humor. I am anxious to see the movie. It has been a while since I read a book where I was rooting for a particular love match, so that was fun! This was a great filler read between all the heavy stuff I've been reading. Nice, humorous references to college town and home of my Tennessee Vols! Update: Saw the movie, not bad, but of course, the book is better. (2/12/16)
Mar 23, 2016 Mara rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Just loved this book!!!
Jul 16, 2011 Snap rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I really enjoyed Big Stone Gap and was delighted to learn that this is the first in the series of novels featuring the folks of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. It is a feel good novel with a strong southern story line that includes Chinese face reading and a bookmobile! (Remember the bookmobile?) Family secrets, generous hearts, self-discovery. A sit back and relax with a glass of ice tea book ... Perfect summer read.
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. I don't think it belongs in the chick-lit or romance genre, because to me, it is so much more than either one, but "heartwarming" definitely fits. Lots of surprises and a whole cast of quirky, small-town characters to fall in love with. This book made me laugh and cry, even while trying to fall back to sleep listening to it in the middle of the night. The town and its people became real to me and Ave's story is worth reading. The audiobook is performed by t ...more
Debra Anne
Oct 21, 2013 Debra Anne rated it it was ok
This feel-good story is set in the Virginia hills, with a charming cast of small-town personalities that revolve around the narrator, one Ave Maria whose Italian mother had her out of wedlock and brought her up in bluegrass country. So why didn't I give it a higher rating?

Despite the exuberance of the narrator, this is still basically a book with a plotline I hate -- Whiney bitch out to find herself. Typical of these plotlines, Ave Maria, has at least one person madly in love with her -- to the
Mar 07, 2014 Vasia rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Rate 3.5 - This is such a sweet enjoyable read, chalk full of great humour and wonderfully eccentric characters. The main one, Ave Maria Mulligan is okay but I prefer the supporting cast. Her best friend Iva Lou, a bookmobile driver & God's gift to men for one. Another is Fleeta, the chain-smoking pharmacy cashier who loves pro wrestling, such a hoot. The author’s choice of locale adds the perfect ambiance.
Nov 20, 2009 Marleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: adriana-trigiani
This is the second time I read Big Ston Gap and I remember why I enjoyed it so much the first time around. The funny thing is that I have evolved in these past years and I have enjoyed this book for different reasons. I like and I don't like Ave Maria because she's too hard on herself and sometimes even, contrary to what the book pretends, on others. I understand protecting yourself out of self preservation, but in my mind Ave Maria acts more out of ignorance. She's so naive at times! Luckily Av ...more
Booker Hookers
Oct 30, 2015 Booker Hookers rated it liked it
As a group, our overall rating for Big Stone Gap is 3 stars.
Things we liked:
Every member of our book club enjoyed the realistic description of the setting and small town vibe. We have one particular member who is from just outside the real city of Big Stone Gap, and she fully related to every detail, especially the characters, who reminded her of actual people she knew. She pointed out that Appalachian people were represented realistically, as hard-working folks with hopes, dreams, and big heart
Jul 12, 2008 B rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 08, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
This was a very light fun book to read. The story is set in the 70's in a very rural mountain town in Virginia. If there was a list called: "Books set in small quirky towns," I would add this book to it. The cast of characters includes all the quirky lovable types that you would expect in a book like this. The story follows Ave Maria, a single Italian-American woman, as she turns 35 and the following year in her life. I found her character to be very likable and could easily relate to her. The d ...more
Sep 26, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
A good choice if you want to escape into a small town in the Appalachian part Virginia with some colorful, gossipy characters and want a few laughs. Ave Maria is in her mid-30s and is worried about becoming an old maid, so gets serious about acquiring a love life. I appreciated some of the details of her life as a pharmacist, town theater producer, emergency response team member, and all around do gooder. Her lusty friend who runs a bookmobile, Iva Lou, advises her on romance strategies:
“There a
This is a 2 1/2 star read. This book was being promoted by the publisher in conjunction with a movie debuting in October 2015. I have heard nothing about the movie, so I am assuming it was a flop. After reading this book, I am trying to think of a reason for making a movie of it. The leading character is nearing her 36th birthday, but seemed as childish as a 15 year old. Ave Maria Mulligan (isn't that an awful name?) apparently is beautiful, smart and industrious, but has never had a boyfriend. ...more
Sep 26, 2016 Tasha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll bump this up to 3.5. I read this with a couple of friends and that really made this book a lot more fun. If I had read this on my own, not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much as it's not my usual style of story. I think I'll probably move on to the next in the series as I am curious to see what happens next.
Oct 03, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction, own
Read Sept. 2016
Just finished a re-read of this and loved it all over again! Fun to revisit the quirky group of characters. :)

Read Jan. 2011
Original review:
I absolutely loved this book! Great characters and story...a total comfort read. I'm moving right on to the next book in the series because I'm not ready to say goodbye to the characters or the Blue Ridge Mountains yet!
**I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.**

I didn’t fall in love with this story because I couldn’t fall in love with the characters. They felt so false and created and I was unable to remove that thought from my mind as I read. I’m a big character reader, I need to be able to suspend reality and fall into their lives or feel like they are sitting right next to me telling me their story. A generic or token cardboard cutout does absolutely nothing for me and that’s exactly th
Mar 06, 2010 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the seventies in a sleepy hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A thirty-five year old single woman has decided that she is the spinster of Big Stone Gap. She is completely independent; she is the local pharmacist, the co-captain of the Rescue Squad, and the director of the town's long-running Outdoor Drama.

So secure is Ave Maria Mulligan in her position in life and in this community that she will go into a tailspin when things seem to change. These changes begin with a long-burie
Barb Terpstra
Nov 01, 2009 Barb Terpstra rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this book. I loved Ava Maria (what a name!), and all the characters in Stone Gap. I loved the descriptions of the small mountain community and the way it brought back memories of my visits to Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. Ava Maria begins the book with this thought: This will be a good weekend for reading, I picked up a dozen of Vernie Crabtree's killer chocolate chip cookies . . . those, a pot of coffee, and a good book are all I will need for the rainy weekend rolling ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Kristi rated it it was amazing
My new favorite author is Adriana Trigiani. Wow! Her characters are richly developed. I feel as though I grew up with her friends and family myself. I love how the dialect and way of life reaches out and places you right in the middle of town. I felt that I walked along with Ave Maria instead of looking in on her life. Of course, as a fellow Virginian, I was able to identify with the language dialect and the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is a wonderful read and I encourage anyone to pi ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
I re-read this book while up in the mountains just now. Ave Maria aand I each lost a mother to breast cancer. While my life is very different from hers, somehow, reading the story with the shared background and loss made it more meaningful for me. We're all a product of our environments, our genes and our circumstances. It was sweet to watch the unfolding of characters, and the explorations into trust. But my original thought still holds: with a main character called Ave Maria Mulligan, how can ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
This was a great book. I read so many young adult books and it was a nice change to read about an adult. The characters were great and I loved the town. I felt like a fly on the wall. I can't wait to read the next one. It's already on hold from the library.
Jan 21, 2016 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jan-16
Loved it!
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 17, 2013 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college I drove to school every day in my 1955 Buick Dynaflow. These trips were almost entirely uneventful. But one morning when it had snowed heavily overnight I slid into a snowbank on Main Street in front of the Braleys' house. Arthur came out and helped shovel me out and I was on my way. No big deal. But when I got home that evening, my mother was waiting at the door to see if I'd been hurt or if there had been any damage to the car. How did she know it had happened? Six or eig ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Marca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what to think of this novel. I originally checked it out thinking it was a mystery, but it was a novel in the vein of Fanny Flagg, which I do enjoy. I listened to it on audio and unless you are David Sedaris, Sara Vowell, or an otherwise well-known personality associated with a voice, you should not read your own audio books. The author’s reading was a distraction and not a good one. The main character of Ave Maria Mulligan, the thirty-five year old town pharmacist (and town spinster), ...more
Hilary G
Dec 09, 2012 Hilary G rated it liked it
Another ex-bookworm group review:

Since I chose this book it will come as no surprise to anyone that I like it. I like it a lot. Yet, at first glance, it doesn't seem my sort of book at all. Had someone outlined the plot, I might have rolled my eyes heavenwards and thought to myself "Mills and Boon" or, since it is set in a sleepy hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains, "Mills and Boondocks"! But I would have missed a delightful experience had I not read it. I think Ms Trigiani's strongest talent is
Mar 30, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, novel, virginia
This is the book that started my mom's & my love for Adriana Trigiani. I decided to reread the whole Big Stone Gap series in anticipation of the new installment, Home to Big Stone Gap. Rereading a book I got ten years ago was really fun. Generally I don't reread books because there are too many new books out there for me to read, but maybe I'll have to try it more often.
Big Stone Gap is the story of 35-year-old town spinster Ave Maria Mulligan. The story is set in the small Blue Ridge Mounta
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Around the Year i...: Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani 1 20 Apr 21, 2016 06:29AM  
Anyone interested in reading this series with me? 7 73 Jul 17, 2013 03:04PM  
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Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for sixteen bestsellers, including the instant New York Times bestseller, All the Stars in the Heavens, 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. She is the award-winning filmmaker o ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Big Stone Gap (4 books)
  • Big Cherry Holler (Big Stone Gap, #2)
  • Milk Glass Moon (Big Stone Gap, #3)
  • Home to Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap, #4)

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“...I've made it my business to observe fathers and daughters. And I've seen some incredible, beautiful things. Like the little girl who's not very cute - her teeth are funny, and her hair doesn't grow right, and she's got on thick glasses - but her father holds her hand and walks with her like she's a tiny angel that no one can touch. He gives her the best gift a woman can get in this world: protection. And the little girl learns to trust the man in her life. And all the things that the world expects from women - to be beautiful, to soothe the troubled spirit, heal the sick, care for the dying, send the greeting card, bake the cake - allof those things become the way we pay the father back for protecting us...” 170 likes
“The terrible things that happen to us in life never make any sense when we're in the middle of them, floundering, no end in sight. There is no rope to hang on to, it seems. Mothers can soothe children during those times, through their reassurance. No one worries about you like your mother, and when she is gone, the world seems unsafe, things that happen unwieldy. You cannot turn to her anymore, and it changes your life forever. There is no one on earth who knew you from the day you were born; who knew why you cried, or when you'd had enough food; who knew exactly what to say when you were hurting; and who encouraged you to grow a good heart. When that layer goes, whatever is left of your childgood goes with her. Memories are very different and cannot soothe you the same way her touch did.” 87 likes
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