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Big Stone Gap #3

Milk Glass Moon

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Milk Glass Moon, the third book in Adriana Trigiani's bestselling Big Stone Gap series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney as she faces the challenges and changes of motherhood with her trademark humor and honesty. With twists as plentiful as those found on the holler roads of southwest Virginia, this story takes turns that will surprise and enthrall the reader.

Transporting us from Ave Maria's home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Italian Alps, from New York City to the Tuscan countryside, Milk Glass Moon is the story of a shifting mother-daughter relationship, of a daughter's first love and a mother's heartbreak, of an enduring marriage that contains its own ongoing challenges, and of a community faced with seismic change.

All of Trigiani's beloved characters are back: Jack Mac, Ave Maria's true love, who is willing to gamble security for the unknown; her best friend and confidant, bandleader Theodore Tip-ton, who begins a new life in New York City; librarian and sexpert Iva Lou Wade Makin, who faces a life-or-death crisis. Meanwhile, surprises emerge in the blossoming of crusty cashier Fleeta Mullins, the maturing of mountain girl turned savvy businesswoman Pearl Grimes, and the return of Pete Rutledge, the handsome stranger who turned Ave Maria's world upside down in Big Cherry Holler.

In this rollicking hayride of upheaval and change, Ave Maria is led to places she never dreamed she would go, and to people who enter her life and rock its foundation. As Ave Maria reaches into the past to find answers to the present, readers will stay with her every step of the way, rooting for the onetime town spinster who embraced love and made a family. Milk Glass Moon is about the power of love and its abiding truth, and captures Trigiani at her most lyrical and heartfelt.

From the Hardcover edition.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 9, 2002

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About the author

Adriana Trigiani

59 books5,617 followers
Beloved by millions of readers around the world for her "dazzling" novels (USA Today), Adriana Trigiani is "a master of palpable and visual detail" (Washington Post) and "a comedy writer with a heart of gold" (New York Times). She is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including her latest, The Good Left Undone- an instant New York Times best seller, Book of the Month pick and People's Book of the Week. Her work is published in 38 languages around the world. An award-winning playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker, Adriana's screen credits include writer/director of the major motion picture of her debut novel, Big Stone Gap, the adaptation of her novel Very Valentine and director of Then Came You. Adriana grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she co-founded The Origin Project, an in-school writing program serving over 1,700 students in Appalachia. She is at work on her next novel for Dutton at Penguin Random House.

Follow Adriana on Facebook and Instagram @AdrianaTrigiani and on TikTok @AdrianaTrigianiAuthor or visit her website: AdrianaTrigiani.com.

Join Adriana's Facebook LIVE show, Adriana Ink, in conversation with the world's greatest authors- Tuesdays at 3 PM EST! For more from Adriana's interviews, you can subscribe to her Meta "Bulletin" column, Adriana Spills the Ink: adrianatrigiani.bulletin.com/subscribe.

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5 stars
3,823 (28%)
4 stars
5,662 (42%)
3 stars
3,306 (24%)
2 stars
438 (3%)
1 star
63 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 728 reviews
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,271 reviews9 followers
September 7, 2017
3.75 stars

I am not a romance reader - was in my youth - but haven't really enjoyed a true romance in years.
Now with that said, I love this Big Moon Gap series. It is a family saga, facing all the challenges and crisis of a middle aged marriage, close intercultural flavor, trying to raise a family, with all the interference that society can throw at it. Change, growth and even romance sends this story along on such a human and realistic path that you cannot help but cheer on its small home-town inhabitants.

This episode covered Etta, Ave Maria and Jack MacChesney's daughter, from her preteens years to the start of her young adult life. Surprises abound.

With this series being the only books I have read by Trigiani, I can honestly say that I am enamored by her writing. This series of books, the audios of which she narrators herself, amazed me. She did not come across as the unreachable International celebrity that I expected. She comes across as the comfortable, responsible, friendly neighbor that any of us would like to live next door to. This series will not be the last I read of Trigiani.
Profile Image for Ladyslott.
382 reviews19 followers
August 1, 2010
The third book in the Big Stone Gap series. While I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, Big Stone Gap and Big Cherry Holler, I found this one to be just okay, a little better than average.

The main character of this book is Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney. In the first two books I really loved her character and her choices in life. This time I wanted to shake her more than once. Instead of the strong character from the first two books she seemed whiney and even shrewish at times, especially within her relationship to her teenaged daughter. I also felt he book seemed rushed, going through years with the turn of a page.

That said I still enjoy the eccentric characters, and the beautiful descriptions, especially of Italy. And I love Jack Mac, Ave's true blue husband; even though I think his appearances here were mostly to calm down Ave after one of her outbursts.

Not as good as the first two, but still gets extra points for bringing me on another trip to Big Stone Gap, which probably won't happen again, as it appears as if there is another book in the series it will be centered elsewhere.
Profile Image for Cranky.
82 reviews3 followers
May 3, 2008
I read the first two in this series and liked them, but by book #3 is was sick of this character (Ave Maria) and her emotional crises. ENOUGH
Profile Image for La Crosse County Library.
556 reviews142 followers
April 28, 2022
Review originally published October 2003

An unlikely combination of cultures, family backgrounds, and environments is the premise for the warm-hearted series called Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani.

This series (which continues with the third book, Milk Glass Moon) is brimming with wisdom, humor, and the drama of life from Virginia to Italy. There are twists and turns that keep the reader turning pages, and characters you will never forget. The series is available at one or more of the county library branches.

The three books in the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani are available through the La Crosse County Library. Big Stone Gap is available at the Holmen and West Salem branches, Big Cherry Holler is available at the Holmen and Onalaska branches, and Milk Glass Moon is available at the West Salem and Campbell branches.
If the books you want are not in your favorite branch, they can be requested from another: just ask the librarian, or feel free to visit any of our five branches at any time.

Find this book and other titles within our catalog.
Profile Image for Joyce.
1,142 reviews6 followers
June 2, 2014
Really enjoyed this novel, the 3rd in the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani. Although I had enjoyed the first book in the series titled Big Stone Gap, I did not enjoy the 2nd book in the series as much. However, this novel was back at the same enjoyment level for me as the 1st book. I love the characters, Fleeta, the stereotypical redneck Southern woman, Iva Lou, the woman who loved men but had finally found true love with her husband, Lyle, Etta MacChesney, headstrong daughter of Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney, Jack MacChesney, a good man who stays true to Ave Maria through all their difficulties, and, of course, Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney, the main character of the book. In this book, the reader watches Ave Maria, Jac and Etta go through the challenges of raising a daughter through her teenage years. Once again, Ave Maria and Etta return to Italy this time accompanied by husband Jack, where they spend time with Ave Maria's family and Etta renews her relationship with a young Italian man she had met their first trip to Italy. As always, Trigiani has done an outstanding job in portraying the language and lifestyle of a small town in the Appalachian mountains.
Profile Image for Morgan.
807 reviews21 followers
October 23, 2015
Sometimes, books just don't need a sequel. Hunger Games clearly needed sequels. The Fellowship of the Ring clearly needed sequels. But Big Stone Gap? No. There was absolutely NO need for follow-up. Ave Maria is horrible in this book. She makes her daughter's marriage about her, not Etta. She tries to control Etta, which never works, and she's so unsupportive of Jack that it astonished me how he put up with it. There were no shocking twists or turns, no big moments that needed resolve, and certainly no cliffhangers. I just have a really hard time reading about the first-world, manufactured issues that Ave Maria has, most of which she creates herself.
Profile Image for Heather Moore.
550 reviews4 followers
February 10, 2021
3.5 stars. I enjoyed the longer timeline that took place through this book. However, it felt a bit rushed at the end as things spiraled to a close. I can’t help but think another few pages to build the last plot line would’ve brought this to a more satisfying ending.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,903 reviews21 followers
September 13, 2015
This was pretty much 3 stars....but I appreciated the ending so I am rounding up. I haven't read the other books in this series so I have nothing to compare it to.

I did the audio on this and the author did her own narration. I am not a fan of this at all. The author in this case wasn't completely awful, but she clearly can NOT do voices. It was hard sometimes to follow along on who was talking. She did try to place a noticeable pause between the different people when doing dialog, so that helped. But this could have been so much better if a professional had done this.

This was about a family, their extended family and their small community. They were following the rhythm of life dealing with the ups and downs. I liked that it covered a lot of different things. I guess I appreciated the 'down to earth' sense this carried. I think this is always a good reminder for me when I get too caught up in problems...because it usually is small stuff not worth the lather.
Profile Image for Caroline.
183 reviews
December 29, 2014
As always, Trigiani did not disappoint. As much as I disliked Jack Mac in Big Cherry Holler, I grew to love him that much more in Milk Glass Moon. Finally Ave Maria lightened up a little and I didn't find myself being angry with her reactions to the ever present life challenges. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down. It seems that all too often with book series, the author runs out of ideas or just can't quite live up to the first book; Trigiani and the Big Stone Gap series is not in that category. So far I think Milk Glass Moon might be my favorite of the series, but each book has been just as good as the first. I cannot wait to start the final book, but at the same time, I do not want to leave all the characters and Big Stone Gap behind.
Profile Image for Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh.
167 reviews508 followers
July 20, 2012
3rd in the series, this book’s main focus is on the evolving relationship between Ave Maria & her daughter Etta. Etta is maturing into a headstrong young woman and making life choices that don’t fit with Ave’s idea of how she should live her life. This struggle of wills is handled with insight & intelligence. The novel jumps around between small town Virginia, the Italian countryside & New York, keeps it interesting. All the great supporting characters are back; at this point they seem like old friends
201 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2020
I needed some light reading during the COVID-19 Stay Home Mandate. I’ve read the first two books in the series so decided to take a trip back to Big Stone Gap and visit the characters I had come to know and love.

The story is about a mother/daughter relationship, a trip down Memory Lane a visit with family in Italy, and an examination of what’s really important in life.
Profile Image for Kelly &#x1f49c;☕️.
810 reviews15 followers
February 4, 2021
4.5, rounded down

This was a satisfying continuation of the family saga... it just ended on a bit of an abrupt note. I enjoyed the plot and there were a few unexpected things

The author’s audio narration is phenomenal and I was sucked into the story.

Thanks to San Diego County Library for the digital audio version via Libby app.

[Audio: 8 hours, 42 minutes]

Reading Journey: picked up this audiobook 12 times, reading for 5 hours 49 minutes
Profile Image for Rick Parsons.
425 reviews3 followers
January 2, 2018
The 3rd of 4 in a series, and I think the best so far.
Short little sections that grow into a complete story, no dragging on.
A story of life, death, and family.
Profile Image for Caroline Southgate.
117 reviews2 followers
January 6, 2018
wasn't sure to start with. set in America, it was different but a really good story when got into it. would definitely like to read the others in the series
Profile Image for Cathi.
272 reviews
December 10, 2022
I wish there was a law saying all books in a series have to say so on the front cover. I never would have got this from the used book sale if I had known it was 3rd in a series. The probable reason why I didn't like it is that I hadn't read the first 2. Now I don't want to.
Profile Image for Kim.
569 reviews
December 5, 2017
Nice series. Makes me wish for another trip to Italy ASAP! This authors writing is a very different style.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
294 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2018
Loved this story! It took me awhile to get into this series, but I enjoyed it when I did.
Profile Image for Angie Woodson.
168 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2022
This was my least favorite of the series, but I still enjoyed it. At this point, I’m in love with the characters and definitely wanted to see how everything resolved itself. Glad I read it.
Profile Image for Les.
814 reviews11 followers
February 10, 2013
I first discovered Big Stone Gap, Adriana Trigiani’s debut novel, over a dozen years ago. It was the summer of 2000 and we had just moved back to Lincoln after living in Fort Worth, Texas for a few years. There’s a lot about that particular summer that I remember quite vividly, but it’s funny how memory eludes us. I would’ve sworn that I loved Big Stone Gap—so much so that I almost re-read the book before I started in on the second in the series—but as I look back through my reading journal for that year, I see that I only gave it a “Good” rating. Apparently, I had a tough time getting interested, but after a few chapters, I was hooked. But still, only an average rating? Had I remembered this, I wonder if I would’ve bothered to continue with this series. Nonetheless, in an effort to start reading more from my shelves, I decided to try the sequel (Big Cherry Holler), but couldn’t get interested and set it aside. I wasn’t planning to continue with any more books from the series, but changed my mind after reading a few comments by readers who mentioned they liked Milk Glass Moon better than the second book. It turns out I did, too. I found it to be a bit reminiscent of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, at least with regard to the setting (in the Blue Ridge Mountains) and the large cast of characters that make up the close-knit community. I also enjoyed reading the passages focusing on the relationship between Ave Maria and her only child, Etta, and found that the dialogue between the two rang true, especially to this mother of an only daughter.

Final Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Milk Glass Moon as well as I did, especially after giving up on the second novel. I was also surprised to learn that it isn’t the final installment in a trilogy, but that there’s a fourth, entitled Home to Big Stone Gap. I don’t own a copy, but maybe I’ll see if it’s available on audio through my library.
Profile Image for Cindy (BKind2Books).
1,541 reviews31 followers
June 29, 2013
I have enjoyed this series for a variety of reasons - I guess the first being that I can identify with the main character, Ave Maria - she is a pharmacist in a Southern town (although I live in a much bigger town than Ave) and she lost her younger child to cancer. The characters are finely drawn and they have become like old friends - Fleeta, Iva Lou, Spec, and the rest. This is the final part of the trilogy and it deals with the changes that Ave and her daughter Etta face as Etta grows up. Jack Mac is a calming influence over both of their personalities. There are surprises along the way and these characters grow and learn. A sweet novel to be savored on a warm Southern evening.

Quotes to remember:

"How easy it is to get lost in the noise of this world, to find yourself leading a life of acceptance and resignation...Is there anything new ahead of me, or is this it? Being a wife, a mother, a pharmacist?"

" 'Because you see the girl in me.' It's true. Nobody remembers her anymore. She got lost on the road of responsibility and within the natural process of aging (ick). When Pete Rutledge tells me I'm beautiful, I believe him. And boy, do I need to hear it. I need to know it...I'm not just a pharmacist or a wife or a mother. I'm me, the real me. I'm celebrated."

"This is the best moment to be a parent, when you see that your child is going to surpass you, that her curiosity will take her place and teach her things that you never even thought about."

"Having children makes a woman mark time in a different way."

"A long time ago I went to a fortune-teller, and she told me that when you have a dream come true, you must then redream. You must not stay in the past. Because all of life changes anyway, and if you try to hang on to happiness or success or even the people in your life, you will be unhappy. You have to set new goals."

~~ can you tell I liked this novel?~~
Profile Image for Susan.
176 reviews2 followers
February 26, 2014
I originally read this book for my Book Club, not realizing it was the third in a series of four books. Milk Glass Moon made way more sense now that I have read the first two books and then re-reading this one. However, I would rate Milk Glass Moon the same as before. So far, I enjoyed the second book (Big Cherry Holler) better than this one and the first one (Big Stone Gap). In Big Cherry Holler, the characters had more dimension. Ave Maria had to come to terms with the loss of her son, her daughter growing up, her husband pulling away from her, the temptation of an affair, and all of it coming back to reality when Ave Maria’s friend Theodore tells her in his own way to “snap out of it!” and get your life back together girl!

In this book, Ave Maria is wishy washy – not her true self of misguided confidence. She never really comes to terms with her daughter, Etta, growing up and becoming her own person. Ave Maria does not embrace this independence but tries to stifle it (persuading her to go to her college). All this controlling, dependent personality does not make sense when Ave Maria has been portrayed as an independent woman in the first two books. This behavior does not really seem in character.

I chuckled a couple of times in Big Cherry Holler with Theodore – whom I just love as a character. But his role was minimal at best in this book, and therefore I was disappointed. Pete and Jack were status quo with nothing really exciting going on – maybe a marriage… but even that fizzled. So three stars is generous for this installment.
Profile Image for Lisa.
74 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2009
Unbeknownst to me, i read book 4 first...then when i realized that, i started with book one, and then continued on. This is book three, and probably my favorite of the whole series. (of course, it could be because i have grown so fond of all the characters by now that i really enjoyed the story, and conclusion).
The lead character, Ave Maria, can be a bit annoying, which made the series hard to read sometimes...but in this book, her "annoying" character comes to the realization that she is a pain in the ass, and that perhaps she should lighten up a bit.(of course, its not until the end that she realizes this) :)
Her friends and family all know her to be this kind of person, and tease her a bit about it in this book, which to me, was sweet justice to her character. When you are reading and thinking, "enough already...put on your big girl panties and deal with it"...the other characters basically tell her that for you :)
A lot of things happen to many of the characters in this book too...sad, happy, interesting, fun....and she covers a lot of years in this book, as well as answering some questions about the folks we've come to love.
All in all, a nice, light book...and i have to admit, as a whole, i enjoyed the series very much!
Profile Image for Krista.
30 reviews10 followers
July 30, 2010
This was one of the best series of books I've read in years. I think it has something to do with the fact that I enjoyed reading about Ave's depth of thinking...that sometimes works for her, and sometimes works against her. Yet, she has so many men and women in her life that help her to get beyond it (in this book, her daughter gets added to that list).

The timing in this story, of raising her daughter from age 10-18 was somehow not as appealing as some of the others, yet, an integral part of what gets Ave through these years is her continued love story with her husband Jack, a man that stood by her in so many beautiful, immeasurable ways; he held her together through difficulty, adored her very being, fathered her daughter in the most understanding, effective ways.

There are so many quotes that I flagged from this book. Here is one:

"Jack and I laugh: this is the best moment to be a parent, when you see that your child is going to surpass you, that her curiosity will take her places and teach her things you never even thought about."
Profile Image for LadyCalico.
1,939 reviews39 followers
November 21, 2009
I just love this series and love Ave Maria, Jack Mac, Theodore, Iva Lou and most of the characters in it; they are as real to me as the people I grew up with in my own little mountain mining town. Nobody gets into the heads, hearts, and flaws of her still-lovable characters like Trigiani. Granted, Etta is a bore, but bores exist in real life. I am so glad she wrote a fourth book, which I can't wait to read. I guess I don't want a fifth one, if she decides to write it, since the characters are just a bit older than me, and if she writes another book, it would probably be to kill off Jack Mac or one of my other favorites, and I am losing too many old friends in my real life as it is. I prefer my fictional friends to just fade off into the sunset with their life lessons learned.
909 reviews12 followers
March 16, 2011
The third book in the Ave Maria series. Such a comfort read - it's a lovely, warm-hearted book.

Back Cover Blurb:
A daughter's first love, a mother's heartbreak, an enduring marriage facing its own ongoing challenges, and a community faced with seismic changes, all are deep at the heart of Adriana Trigiani's third novel. As she faces the joys and demands of motherhood, Ave Maria continues her life story with her trademark humour and honesty.
Reaching into the past to find answers to the present, Ave Maria is led to places she never dreamed she would go, and to people who enter her life and rock its foundation. Milk Glass Moon is about the power of love and its abiding truth, and captures Trigiani at her most lyrical, affectionate and heartfelt.
Profile Image for Katherine.
533 reviews19 followers
January 27, 2022
The third novel in the Big Stone Gap series covers a long expanse of time, beginning shortly after the conclusion of Big Cherry Holler. As Ave Maria grows into a mother of an adolescent girl and then young woman, she must continue to adapt to the ups, downs, and monotonies of aging--for herself, for her family, and for the friends who are every bit as central to her life as those who share her blood. Trigiani sprinkles sorrows, triumphs, and plenty of laughs throughout the story, wrapping you up in a familiar blanket of narrative that she brings to life using her husky Virginian accent.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,945 reviews28 followers
February 2, 2013
The third book in the Big Stone Gap trilogy. I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first two. Ave Maria's daughter, Etta, is growing up and Ave Maria is facing the realization that all mothers experience--their children are becoming adults and growing away from them. And adjusting to that truth is hard for Ave Maria to face.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
862 reviews
July 14, 2017
The author read this book and she should have hired out the job. Just lacked expression and energy. Her writing lacked energy also and I was sort of bored with the whole thing and wondered when it would be over. Too contrived and didn't flow. Ave Maria was always a wreck and I wanted her to get her act together. Too predictable and undeveloped characters.
Profile Image for Mary Rank.
325 reviews
December 8, 2014
This was a sweet little book about a mom who is trying to forget a few mistakes in her past while trying to keep her teenage daughter from going astray. The mom is also learning to let her daughter make her own decisions about her future.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 728 reviews

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