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Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  26,770 ratings  ·  1,803 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
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Published January 1st 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Dec 03, 2013 Caroline rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Mom
Shelves: appalachia, fiction
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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.
I read this book a few years back in a single day, and though i'm hazy on the details , it has left me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It's a very charming book, set in a small town nestled somewhere between mountains, and our protagonist is a very likeable single woman in her mid-thirties who has found herself in a soap-opera like situation (the specifics of i can't remember). At the same time she finds true love in the face of her childhood friend, who is amazing and i fell in love with and the scen ...more
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
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
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.
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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
Aug 14, 2009 Julianna rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noone
This was such a poorly written book that if it had not been required reading by the Baton Rouge Newcommer's Literary Review book club I would have turned it in to the library after the first chapter.
The author attemps to place the book in 1978 rural Virginia. Trigiani tells her readers in the first chapter of the book that the main character's mother came over from Italy pregnant, unwed, and without sponsorship in the 1940's. Given the USA's immigration policy of that time this senerio is Imposs
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
Debra Anne
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
Barb Terpstra
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
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.
Mary Ronan Drew
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
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
Hilary G
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
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
I found this book just perfect for light reading without the forced high drama that sometimes authors feel they need to interject. The story was perfect without some mangled twist. While it did contain an character twist, it was a reasonable one without giving away the whole story. I was kept guessing at the ending for almost the entire book. Each time I felt I knew how things would turn out Ms. Trigiani would plant that seed of doubt.

I was interested enough to pass it along and go check out a
Nicola Mansfield
I love southern fiction and this series has been on my tbr for quite some time. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me and did not live up to my expectations. The setting in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains was delightful but missing were the quirky, lovable characters. The characters were here but were a mere shadow of anything you would find in say a Fanny Flagg. The main character was Italian and basically the plot surrounded her finding out about her heritage. When all was said and done though, t ...more
I thought this was a wonderful story...filled with rich characters - and I do believe that her father from Italy is the same area that her newest book "The Shoemakers Wife" - where the one of the main characters come from. Anyway - you will love the characterization of this story - filled with humor, emotion and it, you won't be sorry.
Karen maslen
In the town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, not much happens. The highlight of 35-year-old Ave Maria Mulligan's week comes on Friday, with the arrival of the Bookmobile, the sight of which sends her into raptures. Her favorite book concerns the ancient Chinese art of reading faces. Through her face-readings, we come to understand the hostilities simmering within her family: her father whose small eyes are the clear "sign of a deceptive nature." Her aunt who "has a small head and thin lips. (That's a ...more
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
If I had to guess, I'd say Ave Maria is Adriana Trigiani's unique heroine. She's Italian, like the rest, but lives in the Appalachians. She owned, then sold and worked at, a drugstore. She was the town spinster and enjoyed small-town life. She had issues with her mother, recently deceased, who had never been happy; she had issues with her father who had never loved her. She had issues with her father's sister who was all bitter than Ave Maria got the family house and the drugstore after her pare ...more
Adriana Trigiani really knows how to tell a story!

The place, a mining town in southwestern Virginia. The era, mid-1970s. Who, Ave Marie, the self-declared town spinster. Trigiani weaves a complicated tale of Ave, and her quest to find out the truth about her self.

The story begins with Ave, the town pharmacist and general do-gooder, heading up the town's theatrical productions, serving on the rescue team, and generally helping just about everyone in town with their challenges and crisis. Ave re
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Nov 19, 2007 Flannery rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people for whom family is a nebulous concept
Ohhhhhh my god.

So this was our bookclub book for November. I got it out of the library this weekend and tried to get into it but I was really meh about the beginning. But the discussion date was fast approaching (it's tomorrow) and I knew I had to finish it, so I summoned up the willpower I wish I had in high school and college and powered through.

I am so glad I did.

I'm a sucker for reunited family stories, for one. Given my own family and history, this one really spoke to me. To some, it might
Debbie Evancic
Ave Maria Mulligan is a 35 year old pharmacist, who recently lost her mother. She had previously lost her step father and she had no siblings. She loves to read and spends most of her time running her pharmacy, running the yearly drama show, being on the Emergency Squad, and keeping up with her household. Life starts to change for her when she discovers letters in her mother's closet from her relatives and Ave Maria realizes her father is still alive. Ave Maria also discovers that someone she ha ...more
Garth Mailman
The first in Adriana Trigiani’s trilogy, Big Stone Gap like its mates runs to 305 pages in paperback. Aspiring authors are told to write what they know, well guess what, there really is a place named Big Stone Gap and there really was a book entitled Trail of the Lone Pine by John Fox which became a movie and is enacted each summer on an outdoor stage in town by amateurs. If the characters she writes about are as real as everything else in this book one can only hope she’s still welcome around t ...more
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Southern Lit Lovers: Big Stone Gap - Nov 2013 - Spoilers Likely! 39 40 Feb 26, 2014 06:58AM  
Anyone interested in reading this series with me? 7 70 Jul 17, 2013 03:04PM  
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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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“...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...” 153 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.” 77 likes
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