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The Big Wide Calm

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Paige is a rock star. The world just doesn't know it yet. She's got the charisma, the drive, and, of course, the mega-musical skills. All she needs is to make her debut album, one that will change the world, inspire revolutions--and make her galactically famous along the way.

When John Bustin, a former semi-famous singer/songwriter offers to record Paige's album for free, it feels like destiny, like the next step on her way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Guitar in hand, Paige sets off to John's recording compound, ready to unfold her future.

But the ever-elusive John, with his mysterious history, and Paige, a big dreamer but naive about her footing in life, clash as much as they coalesce. Before they can change the world through Paige's music, the improbable duo must learn to work together.

A coming of age story and retrospective, The Big Wide Calm focuses on human nature and the complexities of love through the eyes of young and old on the journey of creating the perfect album.

254 pages, Paperback

First published May 6, 2014

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About the author

Rich Marcello

7 books128 followers
Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 143 reviews
Profile Image for Jenna .
137 reviews181 followers
July 30, 2014
The Big Wild Calm or TBWC (as referenced in the book), is based around the life of Paige Plant. Paige is in her mid-twenties, arrogant, and a talented musician who needs to learn what love is in order to write about it and sell her music to a wider audience.

Having been raised by a father who is an avid Led Zeppelin fan, Paige had her last name changed to Plant when she was younger and it isn’t until this period in her life that she realizes that she is living her father’s dream and not her own.

Paige meets a music producer/guru of sorts, who takes Paige in and offers her an expensive car, a place to stay, a recording studio on the premises in exchange for several hit songs.

During this time she is tested in several ways and is forced to look at life a bit differently and it shows in her songs as they all seem to be great songs that will change the world. In the end, it is Paige’s inner makeover that becomes more powerful for her than any music that she could create.

I love the way that Rich Marcello writes. His story just seems to flow so naturally and his words left me wanting more. His character development is so spot on that I felt that I knew all of the characters personally.

As with Rich’s first novel, he weaves in some philisophical tidbits that make you go, “hmmm…”, so what are you waiting for? This is a great read!
Profile Image for Nancy Steinle gummel.
507 reviews90 followers
August 24, 2014
The Big Wide Calm: a Novel by Rich Marcello is a first read win and I'm giving my honest opinion. This is a beautiful book with a haunting story line. The characters arte reverently drawn out. It's a simple story and Marcello writes it perfectly. The story is about Paige Plant, named after Led Zeppelin. Her father taught her music starting with piano and acoustic guitar. After breaking up with her boyfriend is approached by John, who becomes her mentor. He believes in her and her music. He offers her the opportunity to record an album at his place. She would have her own room, no rent, a stipend and a chance to become one with her music. Paige accepts. Soon she's recording her first song. John is an inspiration. He tells her he destroyed all his own music. Songs 2 and 3 get done. John introduces her to Ian who she makes love to. Her muse is stagnant. John tells her she could be in love or get her muse back. Not both. Paige chooses her music over love. Read for yourself and see how this tender story evolves.
111 reviews3 followers
July 23, 2014
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

I can't believe I read the same book as the others who reviewed it. I didn't find the characters believable, the plot twists seemed forced (particularly the violence), and some of the wording was cloying. I did find the information about the songwriting process interesting. However, if I hadn't received the book as a Giveaway, I wouldn't have finished it.
Profile Image for Alex.
5 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2014
Wow! Just wow! I cannot express how much I loved this book! One of the best contemporary literature novels I’ve ever read. With all the talk about changing the world and becoming world famous in this book, I hope the book itself can find the its own place in contemporary literature history and be remembered as a classic about self-discovery, art, and chosen families.

Following Paige Plant in her search for fame, for multigenerational art, for the big wide calm was a spectacular journey. Her dynamic relationships with John, with Z, with Ian, with Radha all captivated me throughout the story. I love watching everything unfold in a real, organic way I don’t see in most books nowadays. There was a real honesty in this story and the characters, something original and unique to the author, Marcello.

Paige’s personality absolutely filled the pages of this book. Her thoughts were genuine, revealing parts of herself that she didn’t always reveal out loud or to the other characters. There’s a lot of existentialism here, in Paige’s pursuit of what she calls the big wide calm, in John’s need to change the world as a whole, in his belief that Paige can do that through her music. I absolutely loved the concepts of everyone and everything being connected on a quantum level even if no one can really feel it all the time. I definitely felt it while reading this book. Every character interaction, every growth and failure, every conversation was natural and organic. There’s just so much to love about all the characters and their stories as they evolve together, separately, going back and forth. Absolutely reflective of real life, yet reflecting maybe a better part of life as well.

I loved following Paige, John, Bono as they all wrote their music, discovering the lyrics as they did, discovering the love and passion that ultimately makes up Paige’s The Big Wide Calm album. My favorite songs were probably “Shamans of Movement and Light,” “Growing Down,” and “A Different Voice.” Those lyrics really spoke to me on a personal level, and by the end when Paige and John are writing their flash poetry that leads to “The Big Wide Calm” duet, I could really feel the greatness, the bigness of what these artists were trying to accomplish. A few of my best friends are music artists, and I have a feeling they would love this book, so I’m definitely recommending it to them. I think they would understand it on an even more crucial level, as they also try to leave their own impact on the world through their music. But it’s a journey any reader can understand and engage with.

There were plenty of twists in the story to keep the reader guessing, from Ian to John’s backstory, and the courageous twist of fate that leads Paige into finally completing her album. There was just so much to love about everything. I almost wish I could have connected more to the characters, especially when Paige was growing so rapidly and the interpersonal connections were changing, evolving. I never quite felt when Paige felt in love or bigger emotions, but there was a quiet serenity is all the emotions conveyed, even in the anger and frustration. In the end, it felt fitting that the lyrical quality of the book’s style tells the reader about emotions yet allows them to feel the completeness and complexity of The Big Wide Calm as a whole.

I highly recommend this book to lovers of contemporary literature, who love art and music, who love bigger existential ideas. It was a moving journey of self-discovery, forming chosen families (my favorite types of stories to be honest), and finding that place between human connection, where society and art don’t have to be at odds, even if that requires some world-changing social evolution in the form of an inspirational music album. By the end, I had the feeling that Paige was just starting her journey and would be able to change lives. Everyone should read this story and connect to the characters in a bigger way, because I guarantee you won’t regret it. This is an amazing, captivating, and heartwarming story that deserves its own place on shelves among the classics. I am a fan for life, and will definitely be reading Marcello’s future works.
Profile Image for Anna C.
466 reviews
October 28, 2014
By page one, I knew I was going to hate this book. I ended up reading another 35 pages until I just couldn't take it anymore. I left that so frazzled that I went to bed without my nightcap (a nice sip of Evelyn Waugh).

The problem all comes down to voice. Say an author has crafted a very distinctive voice you simply can't stand. Do you put the book aside? Do you grit your teeth and congratulate the author on creating and maintaining just a unique tone? Do you criticize the book, but sparingly (because surely a grating voice is better than no voice at all?)

1. I don't read literature to hear how teenagers talk. (Countless "likes" and "you knows")

2. It's prone to far too much exposition. ("Today I'm going to meet this guy named John Bustin. He's older, like pensioned, and from the whisper-whisper out there, he was a decent songwriter in his time.")

3. It's arrogant. And not in a good way of having a believable character flaw. As in, making the main character seem like a delusional psycho ("Paige, you can save the world with your songs" "(After studying herself in the mirror) It's a face destined for album covers, billboards, stadium monitors. It's the face of the Grammy winning album"

4. It's filled with cliches. ("I've been reeling in the nightmare that my stuff isn't good enough. Or maybe it's that I'm not good enough. Nah, I'm good enough. But I don't want to be a flash in the pan. Staying power is the name of the game")

5. I will immediately give up on any book in which a character looks into a mirror to describe herself. This is such a clumsy and overused device that it has become a running joke on certain corners of the Internet ("I study my reflection in the vanity mirror. Shoulder-length brown hair. Check. Olive skin. Check")

But we get back to the main question. I think that reading this book is acute agony. I can criticize the book's cartoony characters and unbelievable premise. I can talk about some quality to it (that I unfortunately can't pin down) that makes everything seem very fake. But unless I argue that Marcello has only done a stereotype of what a wannabe rocker would sound like, can I criticize the voice? Even if this isn't my taste, can I criticize an author who has crafted a distinctive sound. I'm not really sure. However, life is short. When I have "Brideshead Revisited" on my nightstand, I am not going to spend precious time on a novel that violates the Geneva Convention.

I received a free ARC of this book through FirstReads in exchange for an honest review.
Author 11 books7 followers
June 2, 2014
“The big wide calm.”
“What do you mean?”
“For years, I’ve been wandering around with this phrase, the big wide calm, never exactly sure what it meant. I even wondered if you’d touched it yourself when I first met you. Maybe it has something to do with the place underneath emotion.”

The place underneath emotion….it was this line relatively early in the book that sent chills down my spine and I knew I was hooked. The Big Wide Calm by Rich Marcello not only won me over but I think I may place it in one of my favorite books of all time. I am discovering so many amazing indie authors as of late and this came out of nowhere and made me realize the sort of talent that exists out there. This should, could and will be a best seller. This to me was a breathtaking piece of poetic literature. It is like music in dramatic form. It is astonishingly clear to me that Marcello has a heart for music and pours his soul into this story. I hate to use obvious expressions but The Big Wide Calm feels like an instant classic. Start casting this film because it is Oscar gold.

There are several things about this book that won me over. The first person narrative will make you fall in love with our heroine Paige. She is easily one of the best literary characters I have ever experienced. She is driven, eccentric at times, almost neurotic but in all the best ways. She’s also sweet, pure, honestly anxious, contemplative and discovering herself through the music. I adored Marcello’s style of writing her inner dialog. Some of it is almost choppy, sporadic and that’s because she isn’t speaking to us as the reader but rather we are there inside her head…we are experiencing first hand her creative process. As someone who doesn’t write music but understands the manic quality of creativity this just spoke to me in all the right ways and I fell in love with Ms. Plant.

With any great story you need a yin to your character’s yang and we have that in spades with John. He is the former star of “The Wides,” who has now found himself reclusive and struggling with his own creativity. The mentor relationship between John and Paige is vibrant, exciting and their chemistry just literally jumps off the page at you. Every scene with their back and forth dialog literally leaves you desperate to read more. The book clearly defines how John helps Paige open up to her creativity but you also see how Paige changes him too. It was literally beautiful to read.

As I said earlier, The Big Wide Calm is poetic. Yes, you have some truly touching original lyrics in the book that will have you closing your eyes and practically hearing the music, but each thought and spoken word and event in the book just feels like it’s dripping with rhythm and never necessarily the same rhythm. The beauty is that you don’t need to love a certain genre of music to love this book. This is about two people and their love of music and it’s a coming of age story (albeit a late coming of age) and it’s about finding oneself. I am a Marcello fan and look forward to reading more from him! The Big Wide Calm is an absolute must read right NOW!
Profile Image for Monica.
7 reviews
June 2, 2014
There is nothing cliché about Rich Marcello’s second novel, The Big Wide Calm. This “rock” solid story is distinctly fresh, blessedly uncomplicated and uniquely quirky. You will likely not have ever met characters such as Paige and John and their journey together is a beautiful tribute to the power of imagination and creative storytelling.

Though Rich Marcello excels at writing in an unassuming and straightforward tone, there is nothing simple about the layers of intrigue, introspection and observation he has created in this story. Readers will find themselves gently swept along as topics such as music, art, life, relationships and the sweetness of pursuing a dream combine to effortlessly enhance and enrich the reader’s perspective. I loved the purity of Rich Marcello’s voice as it augmented this perfect story and didn’t detract from giving me plenty of breathing room to settle in to walking the pages with his engaging characters.
Few books come along where the reader is left feeling like they were gifted with something larger than the printed page, something motivating and inspirational that seeps into your very marrow and leaves you a different person, for the better. My creativity was refreshed, my desire to patiently pursue the beauty of a relationship that grows with time, compassion and understanding was rekindled, and I was left feeling like I’d stolen a piece of the author’s heart which he so obviously left in the pages of this book.

This at times laugh-out-loud funny story, interwoven with the beauty of letting love grow just the way it should without a pre-set pattern, combined with an entertaining subplot of art and music, left me wanting more of Paige and John and looking forward to more from this author. A very fine literary masterpiece, The Big Wide Calm will leave you breathless and peaceful and is an absolute “must read”!

Well done, Mr. Marcello! This book is much-deserving of the 5 stars I’m giving it and I only regret six stars is not an option. Let us hear from your pen again very soon.
Profile Image for Michelle Morgan.
Author 5 books147 followers
May 13, 2014
Rich Marcello’s sophomore novel is even better than his debut. It is a rare thing to find a book with such soul, such powerful writing combined with expert storytelling, but this author has proven himself a master…again. Like “The Color of Home,” he has crafted his second novel with easy-to-read narrative infused with music you can actually feel, and his characters will leave you reeling long after you’ve finished reading.

“The Big Wide Calm” isn’t just a novel or an album or a place; it’s a state of mind. As a soul-searching twenty-something myself, the protagonist, Paige Plant, speaks to me through the pages. Her “voice” is intelligent, witty, off-beat and hilariously candid. When she’s given the opportunity to work with the reclusive but brilliant John Bustin on a multigenerational recording album, she jumps at the chance, though she knows she shouldn’t. Their relationship is far from traditional, but John offers Paige things that young artists like me can only dream of (after she proves herself worthy, of course). John isn’t so perfect either, and it turns out he needs Paige as a mentor – and as a friend – just as much as she needs him. I only wish I had my own John Bustin to help me find my “big wide calm!”

After reading Marcello’s first novel, “The Color of Home,” I knew I had to read more from him. The relationships in his books are interesting and dynamic, and his prose is lyrical, compelling and so easy to read. He explores complex and often messy relationships to reveal the nature of love and the human spirit. Marcello is now one of my favorite authors – I’ll be a fan for as long as he’s writing.
Profile Image for Erin.
14 reviews
August 7, 2014
I received this novel through a Goodreads Giveaway.

The main premise of The Big Wide Calm seems pretty far-fetched, and many of the storylines feel almost forced and convenient. In theory it would be fun to follow along on the journey of a talented singer/songwriter on the cusp of “making it,” but the main character, Paige, is so arrogant, thinking herself beyond amazing (a goddess deserving of mega-fame, saving the world through her multigenerational art, to paraphrase her words) that it just about took all the fun away. Everything seemed to come too easily for Paige, making you wish you were reading a story about rooting for the underdog instead.

As a music-lover, it was interesting to get a glimpse into how the characters approached the song writing process, although some of the lyrics sounded a bit cliché, and the song structures pretty traditional.
Profile Image for Melissa Fry Beasley.
10 reviews111 followers
June 26, 2014
Paige Plant! Paige Plant!! Paige Plant!!!
What a young woman and what a wild ride!
This is a novel about a girl 'growing down', holding her own, and becoming herself. (with many surprising twists, turns, and loops)This fun and imaginative journey makes for a fast paced, exciting read that will leave you breathless and exhilarated in the end.
Great characters who are full bodied, real. Each so easy to love in their own way .. well, except the numbers. The Great Wide Calm has it all .. true family, fantastic wine, big dreams with even bigger opportunity, music, love, sex, poetry, crime, and did I mention Rock'n'Roll? Loads of fun!
Profile Image for TL .
1,823 reviews35 followers
August 19, 2014
I received this via GoodReads first reads in exchange for an honest review.

Beautifully written but just couldn't get into it... would still recommend though, you might see it differently than me.
June 20, 2014
"The Big Wide Calm" by Rich Marcello is the story of Paige Plant, a mid-20's singer-songwriter on a mission to save the world through music. Having been primed for this role since she was a little girl (her dad legally changed her name to Paige Plant, after Led Zeppelin's very own Jimmy Page and Robert Plant). She stands on the shoulders of legendary notables such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, and many others. Idolized musicians who have reached out to fervent fans everywhere to spread the music as the undercurrent that instigates social changes in the way that only rock music can-through the deep and unyielding passion of a band's ideals of love, fantasy, and hope. These are the sentiments that drive Paige's hunger to be the next great musician to span the ages, to be the next iconic symbol to carry the torch of peace, love, and understanding through her music. From the 1960's to present day,the musical inspiration ran a gamut from society's angst towards to Vietnam War, desegregation, recreational drug use and nightclubs, The space race, nuclear talks, environmental consciousness, worldwide famine and poverty, and so much more. Paige aspires to be the next great artist to continue the journey that was started decades ago by these musicians and reach out to a wide audience, young and old alike. To have people from different backgrounds and socioeconomic levels, reach out to each other in harmony. Paige is ready to reach multigenerational artist acclaim and vows that this album will join the iconic albums of all time. As Paige walks into the secluded studio of music recording artist John Bustin, a 60-something highly regarded, mysterious artist on the fringes of the musical world, she is primed to unleash the next great rock album on the world! The stage is now set for a wonderfully engaging story of a love that spans the times and ages.

After Paige's initial nervousness of playing guitar for John, she finally gains composure and loses herself in the music as she riffs away and for a moment, thinks she sees John's eyes tear up briefly. John, being impressed with her skills on the guitar, makes an incredibly generous offer for her to move into the studio for a year, room and board covered, plus a monthly stipend. A deal too good to pass up, Paige eagerly agrees and thus begins the adventure of creating the world's next multigenerational album of all time. Along the way, she meets and befriends musicians who contribute moral lessons and deeply personal stories that are confessed through song in her album, which she has titled "The Big Wide Calm." Multi-talented Paige sings, writes lyrics, plays guitar and piano and turns to oil paints as part of the creative process in constructing her music. She needs to see and feel the song, not just write it to paper. She needs to see the color and lines of her paintings, and feel the knot in her chest when a tune rings true to her. To her, music is an all-encompassing wave of expression meant to touch all the intangible parts of a person's being, a way to connect to someone. Paige has a deep passion for her cause that is clearly evident in her interactions with everyone. She has a strong character who exudes an amazing amount of confidence in her work. These are all admirable qualities that I find very appealing about her.While creating "The Big Wide Calm." Paige begins to understand as she herself journeys through the secret, and often dark, nuances of the lives of those around her. While living at the studio next to John's house in the woods, Paige begins to wonder about John, who he is and what makes him tick. Watching the relationship unfold between Paige and John is what kept me hooked with the story. Over the course of living and working with John everyday, Paige witnesses deep sadness in his demeanor and grows curious to know why. Especially coming from someone who is helping her create "The Big Wide Calm" it seems almost incongruous that he could have the persuasion to help make this a reality. She admires and respects the Zen-like qualities that he imparts on her whenever she hits the wall on creativity and comes up blank. Just by a few insightful questions or observations, John gently guides Paige to the answers that are already within her, but just not realized yet. Paige's parents fly in for a visit, and over dinner, her dad dives into conversation in an attempt to get to know John, but John deflects the very personal ones and casually redirects the conversation. Later her dad would reveal that after searching around on the internet, he could find no mention of John Bustin. Paige is even more intrigued about the man who is helping craft her dream, so she pokes around and makes a few discoveries about John which she finds unsettling. Paige is at a crossroads, unsure if and how she can proceed to work with him. While venting this with a close, personal friend he advises that she needs to realize the great success that she's had with her first four songs and that she should stick it out with John and make it work. Paige goes back to the studio and has a serious discussion with John and they touch each others souls in a way that is truly genuine and heartfelt. This connection of love and understanding between them serves as a strong binding force that allows them to fearlessly explore the depths and meaning of their relationship and which serves as the muse for "The Big Wide Calm". I really enjoy how Paige insists on co-authoring the title song of the album with John as he has become an integral part of the albums creation which now seems incomplete without his direct contribution. Vision now turns into reality as Paige exemplifies the core values of her album of love, peace, and acceptance. Through a culmination of events and personal interactions, Paige has her faith tested at times, once nearly costing her life. Yet she perseveres, undeterred as she gains strength from the life-force that her album has evolved into.

Come along and journey with Paige towards her vision of promoting world peace. Witness her sincere efforts in achieving those dreams along with some eye-opening lessons she learns along the way. It's an inspiring story how passion and perseverance can triumph over challenging personal beliefs and experiences, especially when backed up by a solid support system from loved ones.
Profile Image for Valerie.
100 reviews32 followers
November 28, 2014
I won The Big Wide Calm for free in a GoodReads giveaway. I received a good-looking trade-paperback with a blue-based, suitably illustrated cover, soft matte-finish and 247 pages of lightly serifed font.

The Big Wide Calm is the story of a young woman destined to become a singer-songwriter super-star, and is told from her first-person narrative. The book dives immediately into the premise of her meeting an older recording-industry veteran to be taken under his wing and groomed into a serious recording artist.

The Big Wide Calm moves with all of the speed and plot-convenience of a prime-time drama reduced to 42 minutes with commercials. The liberties taken with plausibility are laughable, and the plot is so far-fetched as to culminate in the heroine sacrificing herself to a mob hit in which she ingratiates herself to her executioner.

The strength of The Big Wide Calm and the one thing that makes it work is the really natural pacing of the narrative. For this, Rich Marcello is to be especially credited as a writer. The Big Wide Calm is seductive in its voicing readability and it feels so good while you are reading it that you are more than obliged to go along with its preposterous storyline.

As is evident in reviews online, many have mistaken this easy-to-read narrative as evidence of further substance and indication of good literature. Sadly, this is not the case.

The Big Wide Calm has all the foreshadowing prowess of a Penthouse Forums letter. The heroine reads not so much as a real and natural girl, but as the best-dreamt fan-boy fantasy of what a universe-gliding quasi-bisexual rocker-chick born-under-a-Led-Zeppelin-star would be like. The circumstance of her mentor-ship is your generic, "let's start off by handing you the most unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime for no reason" platform, and proceeds forward onto every cliched plot-point in practice: dog dies, sex with mentor, long dead wife not really dead, lots of mystic universal feel-good stuff, and glossing over all the real-world trauma and struggle and hardship of getting shot - twice, in the gut - with the culmination of a healing lesbian love scene. Score.

But there are a lot of people here that love it. And Rich Marcello has that easy-to-read, in-your-head narrative that he's already so easily mastered to thank for it. One hopes he'll have the opportunity to turn his talent towards a story more discerning.

The Big Wide Calm is recommended for those that like their fiction easy-to-read, with that prime-time television kind of scrutiny to detail and consequence.
Profile Image for Wesley.
21 reviews
June 17, 2014
If it isn’t obvious right away, the central core of what makes The Big Wide Calm such a captivating story isn’t the subject of music or even the thematic concept of self-discovery and retrospective, but the amazing character development. I read and review a lot of books, but so many fall flat because of the lack of interesting or sympathetic characters. Not the case here.

From the get-go, we are introduced to a protagonist in Paige Plant, a young, aspiring singer-songwriter, in whom we find all the hopes and fears of not just a musician under pressure to create, but of any person still finding themselves and their place amongst others. She’s usually confident, but still gets jealous like the rest of us. She’s charming in a self-deprecating manner, but also knows where she shines. She worries about the big struggles in her life, but also mulls over the small things. Then, we have John (and Solly, his dog), a reclusive former musician who is now producing Paige’s album for free. In him, we find a trapped artist, filled with regret for past mistakes and lost connections, and a yearning to make up for those in his later years.

The characters are truly fluid, and their relationships build and crumble organically. None of them are stereotypical “Young Adult” fare. None of them fit the standard archetypes of these stories. From Paige’s descriptions of herself and the others in the story, you might have thought they were real people. The book is written from Paige’s perspective, and the author uses this to maximum effect to reveal Paige’s every thought in intricate detail and painting a fascinating portrait of a character. Paige’s inner monologue is a deeply honest and humorous account of the months she spends with John and the other musicians, recording her album. The book would best be described as a combination of fictionalized memoir and romanticized coming-of-age, interchanging between the two effortlessly.

I’m not normally a reader of these types of novels, as I find them to often be saccharine sweet and overly sentimental, but by the end of TBWC, I was pleasantly surprised and uplifted by the story. I would definitely put this in the recommended read category of my collection. Just fantastic.
2,841 reviews254 followers
September 12, 2014
I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

I enjoyed Rich Marcello's previous novel much more. While there was poetic descriptions a lot of the banter and dialogue felt forced and so did the plot. I frankly didn't find Paige all that likable which normally isn't a problem but it was hard to be invested in her success when she seemed intent on sabotaging herself and having all of this be portrayed through internal narration. She actually reminded me of the female protagonist in Marcello's previous novel which makes the female characters come off more as templates that real characters.

Instead of coming off as empowered and ready for success Paige seemed shallow, flighty, and unable to do anything on her own. She seemed to have the Bella Swan complex - she was written as a character meant to be likable because she was created without any flaws and to make up for it she faced ridiculous situations to flesh out her character.

I even liked the brief overlap, if only a mention of Dakini Bliss from The Color of Home, and I kept hoping the story would go somewhere as I read but the plot plateaued early on.

Profile Image for Michelle.
590 reviews158 followers
December 10, 2014
Many thanks to Langdon Press and author Rich Marcello for this ARC "The Big Wide Calm" and for sponsoring the Goodreads Giveaway/First Reads where I won this engaging new book.

The talent, creativity, music, and painting/artwork of Paige Plant (no relation to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin) was discovered by mega-wealthy John Bustin, (about 60) who lived on his wooded estate 40 miles east of Boston. Convinced he could mentor/sponsor Plant and another young musician "Bono" and release a music production "The Big Wide Calm" to further his vision and related projects. The novel is a richly and creatively detailed description of the songwriting process: the lyrics, melodies, guitar riffs, piano accompaniment, studio production, etc. Paige and Bono successfully wrote a song together, when Bono abruptly decided to move on. Bustin continues to work alone/individually with Plant, and she is curious to learn more about her "zen-master/mentor", and the source of his immense wealth. The novel is about how Bustin works with Plant and develops her talent and skill as a songwriter an preforming musician, and the blend of their personal lives.

When Bustin explains to Plant the source of some his anguish, the loss of his family, why he lives alone on his wooded estate with his dog Solly, the story truly sounds like a tall tale, and it is. Paige unravels the mystery of her mentors life when she steals a personal letter from his bedroom. What follows is very interesting, though unlikely, and not very believable. The constant reference to Led Zeppelin throughout the story might be annoying for non-fans . There were parts of this novel that were also beautifully and creatively done, I liked it overall, and recommend it especially for musicians and/or music fans.

Profile Image for Megan.
Author 7 books17 followers
August 15, 2014
A little like my last review, I'm in new waters here--this time, we're in the music industry, something I have never had any exposure to. I love contemporary fiction, though, so I was glad to get into Rich Marcello's second book. (He published The Color of Home last year.)

In a nutshell, this book is about a few things. It's about a rising star in the music industry named Paige Plant. Paige narrates our journey into the story and we see everything through her eyes.

This story is also about what happens to your life when you realize you've been living someone else's dream. When you've spent much of your life trying to get to the bottom of a phrase that's stayed with you and hasn't let go "the big wide calm."
It's about a relationship between Paige and producer John Bustin and while it's not traditional (neither of our lead characters are, though, so that's just fine with me) it's engrossing.

The writing gets ragged and raw when it needs to. Marcello doesn't just write about the glitz and glam of the music industry, he drags us to the gutters of world most of us won't ever get a chance to see. His writing can switch gears to lyrical and evocative at times, too. Marcello really spreads his sophomore book wings in this novel and tackles the first person POV of a young woman surprisingly well.

(From my blog Adventures in Freebook Land...http://adventuresinfreebookland.blogs...)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ally Web.
479 reviews19 followers
December 16, 2014
In the beginning Paige is arrogant. She thinks she is the best looking as well as the best musician there is.Then John comes into her life to say just that. She’s perfect and she’s going to be a star. That is until he matches her up with another egotistical musician. Don’t get me wrong. This is exactly how I imagine musicians. They have to believe that they’re the best to make it. John tells them that they could help each other make a multigenerational album. Which is going to be pretty tough considering their personalities. They’re each other’s missing piece to their albums. At first I wasn’t sure where this was leading and I didn’t really think I would like Paige. I’m pretty picky of my female characters. The Big Wide Calm really grew on me. It’s well written. The female character is believable. I know plenty of women like Paige. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The ending was amazing. I really enjoyed the character development. Everyone was different by the end of the book. Definitely a page turner - not a dull moment. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves music or if you’re just looking for a good book. 5/5
Profile Image for Thomas Amo.
Author 8 books175 followers
August 21, 2014
American Idol type. She wants the mega fame that comes with being an artist to likes of Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Lennon/McCartney, she wants that mythical icon status and she has the drive and talent to go with it. Her break comes when she gets an opportunity to be mentored by John Brusk a former singer/songwriter with a certain amount of fame. He's given her the task to write 12 songs over the course of one year, a new song each month, not only write it, create it, collaborate, and record it, while having the luxury of a recording studio, artists, her own BMW. What can go wrong? John has a secret, he has many secrets, and Paige finds herself caught in the thick of them. Without giving away any more details, as I hate to do spoilers, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, and hit me several times with twists I didn't see coming. The Big Wide Calm is a pleasant read, it's like a taking a nice long drive with a person who wants to share their adventure with you! I am looking forward to more books by this author! 5 Stars for sure!
Profile Image for Sam.
3,180 reviews235 followers
August 4, 2016
This was a bit of a mixed book for me, on one hand I enjoyed the slightly surreal feel of John's estate and offer to Paige to allow her to focus on her music, which takes away a lot of the real world and throws you behind the scenes of the music world. But on the other hand I began finding Paige rather annoying by the end as she relied on everyone else to help her through without really making much effort herself. Not to mention the somewhat unbelievable circumstances that constitute John's personal life. I did enjoy the writing as it flowed well and had some lighter moments so the story wasn't too overwhelming. But for me it was let down by Paige and her rather narcissistic tendencies and the willingness of everyone around her to bow down to it (or maybe that was the point...?).
Profile Image for Stacy Litz.
10 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2015
I definitely feel like this book was written for me! I am always looking for books to read that I can get through within a few days and are very realistic. I read this book over spring break, & I had just enough time to finish it! I felt as if the characters spoke to me as real people, and not fictitious characters not seemingly make no sense, are filled with and less drama, and so on. I really liked how they seem to resignate my life perfectly on the pages.if you are looking for a book that captivate and human soul and the simplistic complexities that make up life, I highly recommend taking the time to read this book, from a new author that definitely will be during head soon! I should be able to be read from teens to adults, and it's not about vampires or revolutions!
Profile Image for Griffith.
1 review42 followers
August 27, 2017
An unexpectedly satisfying read about a young, ambitious (albeit naive and prideful) woman looking to fulfill her long-coming path to rock & roll fame. Of course, before she brings her dreams to fruition she'll need to dig deep and work through the workings of her inner world in order to create multigenerational music. Paige undergoes a quirky, relatable journey to find "that place just beyond emotions" - The Big Wide Calm. Paige's search for The Big Wide Calm is chock-full of highs and lows. All-in-all, I came to feel very deeply for Marcello's characters; the insights are beautiful and worthwhile to all readers. A highly recommended tale.
4 reviews
May 21, 2014
This profound novel by Rich Marcello is a must read. The protagonist, Paige Plant’s voice is unique and memorable—strong, humorous and broody all at once. I found myself rooting for this budding rock star as she sets out to create a stellar album, weaving into her music the emotions she experiences along the way. The Big Wide Calm is honest and captivating and every bit what it sets out to be—perfect.
Profile Image for Donna Anctil.
2 reviews2 followers
May 30, 2014
As many young adults Paige Plant (cool name) has talent, passion and confidence. John Bustin offers Paige a once in a lifetime opportunity to fast track her way into making an album that will change the world. Little did Paige know that she was entering a year that would change her soul. Rich Marcello, in his sophomore novel, masterfully roadmaps how we can all change the world - one relationship at a time. The final two paragraphs of The Big Wide Calm will blow you away.
Profile Image for Rich Marcello.
Author 7 books128 followers
November 21, 2016
Thanks for checking out my novel, The Big Wide Calm. It's the second of three books I'm writing about different kinds of love. The first, The Color of Home, was published in 2013, and the third, The Beauty of the Fall, will be published in 2015/2016. I hope you enjoy TBWC, and I hope you get a chance to check out TCOH, and TBOTF. Thank you.
Profile Image for Alison Loftus.
35 reviews
August 11, 2014
Im sorry to say I'm shocked at some of the reviews I have read about this book.
First of all I couldn't stand Paige, I thought she was VERY arrogant and completely full of herself!
The story was bizarre and felt like an utter anti-climax.

I probably wouldn't of finished this book was it not from a give away.
1 review
January 16, 2015
Where has this author been all my life?

I feel like The Big Wide Calm was written just for me. It's silly, I know, and I see that several other people are posting similar comments, so I guess I will just take it as more evidence that my other opinion about this book is correct: This is a very good novel.

Paige is a wonderful character, neatly drawn in sharp strokes, and then filled in with a surprising amount of depth. Like one layer beneath another, without the book ever becoming pretentious or dull. That's a hard thing for an author to do, to relate depth without losing levity.

There's lots of just pure entertainment in this book. The way the musicians are portrayed, the little asides that Paige thinks to herself about her sex life, about her childhood, about her friends. It all rings very true. Generally I am of the opinion that it shouldn't matter if a writer is a man or a woman, black, white or green with polka dots. The value of a book lies purely between its pages (Paiges? heh). But I think Rich Marcello deserves at least an extra half-star for writing so authentically from the point of view of a young woman. It never feels forced, and it's often quite charming and even trenchant.

I say that I feel like it was written for me because of the relationship between Paige and John Bustin. When I was still in college I was getting my writing and painting "career" (such as it is) going, and working in a coffee shop full time. There were a few older people working there (older meaning like early 30's, which seemed old to me at the time). They always wanted to listen to Jonathan Richman and listening to Richman's sort of "storyteller/jokester" way of singing songs made me start to feel connected to him in a daughter/father kind of way, and yet he seemed attractive to me. It was a strange dynamic.

Anyway, back to the book, the dynamic between Bustin and Paige, and the way she ponders her relationships to men in general and to her art, specifically, speaks truth straight to my own heart. It's not so much that Paige has the "answers." It's that she faces the same questions and inner monologues that I find myself thinking. Paige's career is a "real" one (eventually, kinda, no spoilers), and that's different from me. But that's the thing, even though the main plot is the arc of her career — signing to the label, writing songs, recording, etc — what's really relevant is this young woman's relationship to the people around her and her own somewhat conflicted status as artist.

One more personal note, if it's not too revealing. I loved the various details of Paige's sex life. Don't worry, it's not graphic or maudlin or cheap at all. But it is humorous, and it is true to life. It's the sort of "specific-universal" descriptions that make it easy to relate to. I mean to say that the details are unique to Paige and yet the emotions and wry humor they evoke feel exactly like feelings from real life.

Quote: "I did stir things up with Z though. When he came to visit me this weekend, I asked him to stop and buy four long silk scarves, you know, the kind older, well-dressed women wear all the time. Until last Firday night, it seemed like a waste to put perfectly good arms and legs out of commission even for a bit. But that night tying Z up worked. I even put my swim goggles on for added strangeness. There's an image."

In that little humorous image, you get a rather risqué sexual image, and yet it is subtle and not crude. You learn another little side of the heroine, her ability to do such things to her lover, and then it ends with those swim goggles "for added strangeness." I laughed out loud when I read that, and the people on the bus looked at me funny. This book is full of such jaunty and entertaining, subtle little sentences and descriptions.

But it would do a disservice to focus only on Paige just because I identified with her so strongly. Because there's another "star" in this novel, and that's John Bustin. He, too, immediately comes to life with a few broad descriptive brushstrokes from Marcello, and yet each scene and bit of dialogue, especially as he starts to really open up to Paige's influence on him, begins to adds layers of depth to him. He's a bit of a tragic figure, and yet he's humorous, loving, and in his own strange way, kind of dead sexy.

For anyone who is on the fence about reading a "rock novel," I'd just say, first of all, it's awesome. Second of all, if you have any love of music at all, you'll enjoy the parts about the singer-songwriter process. And third of all, it's a bit lazy to call this a "rock novel" at all. It's a "human novel" and the humans involved happen to be musicians. The actual details about the writing, singing, recording, etc. process are pretty engrossing to me (and I'm not a musician), but I hope it doesn't insult Mr. Marcello to say that, deep down, I feel like this could have been about anybody who lives and creates with passion and a flair for the artistic... writers, musicians, painters... in fact Paige is a bit of a painter herself.

Sometimes I feel weird getting "inspired" by books, like I should be too old for that. All I can say is that this book inspired me, made me want to recommit to my own "inner rock star" and most of all made me wish I could meet Paige in real life. Hopefully Marcello will bring her back, or more characters just as lively, in the future. Loved this book and from what others say it sounds like I need to read his earlier work too.

All in all, a magical, complex book, with two amazing, memorable, relatable characters. Highly recommended!
5 reviews
September 3, 2014
If you were fortunate enough to read Marcello's first novel, The Color of Home, then I need not offer too much encouragement to get you to give this, his second, a go. Building on the deep emotions explored in the first book, Marcello introduces us to Paige Plant, a young woman bursting to fulfill what seems to be her destiny - a career as a global rock star. Those touched by music in their own lives will revel in the author's respect for and treatment of the creative process involved in Paige's songwriting. It's all there. The musician's block, the struggle to create, the effort to refine and perfect the song. Paige reaches deep for inspiration, using her interest in watercolor to guide her songwriting. What emerges in the end is an album begging to be performed live - which is obviously where Paige is headed from the very first page.

But more fascinating than the music piece of this wonderful novel is the voice the author creates for Paige. From the first pages of the book, the reader is captivated by the protagonist. As a male reader I feel somewhat unqualified to offer too firm an opinion on Marcello's portrayal of this powerful young woman. Nonetheless, I cannot recall a novel where a male author has written more confidently in a female voice. Perhaps that is part of the reason for the nonstop allure that I felt for Paige from the very beginning. The character is so strong, in fact, that the book cries out for a sequel. What will happen next for Paige? Most readers will want to know.

As in The Color of Home, the characters so richly penned by Marcello are not skimmers. The emotion runs deep, and as the author peels back their layers we learn of their past tragedies, and experience new ones. As in the Color of Home, the writing is rich and detailed. They search, and we root for them. We feel their pain too.

The Big Wide Calm will warm the hearts of those who love music, those who love relationships, and those who love novels. It's a worthy follow up to The Color of Home.
Profile Image for Lisa Ann.
48 reviews13 followers
March 18, 2015
**This Review is Based On a First Reads ARC Preview Copy, May Contain Spoilers**

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and I heartily agree. At first look, I adored this book's cover, and still do. At first read, I was not so sure about The Big Wide Calm. I have to admit that my first impression of main protagonist Paige Plant was rather disappointed. I found her to be the most self-centered, egotistical, and judgmental of women, something I might have excused in a teenager, but found rather off-putting in a 25 year-old. That said, I imagine that most wanna-be Rock Stars might need these very qualities to find success in the music business.

Paige wants to be a Rock Star, in the Hall of Fame kind of way. The Big Wide Calm or TBWC as she dubs her soon to be created first album, is the driving force for the novel. Paige meets and begins working with a new mentor, and in her own words zen-master, John on her "Multigenerational" work of art. John is a mysterious, wealthy, 60-something year old that decides to work with Paige to create her first album.

The book offers an interesting enough journey for Paige and compels one to persevere and read on, with snippets of poetry and lyrics, and musical lingo that frankly went over my head most times. But the payoff come in the end, when Paige develops a deeper character, learns to be less judgmental, and even experiences trauma, and comes out with a better understanding of who she is, what she wants her life and music to be about, and what love means.

While I did not fall instantly in love with TBWC I did get there in the end. I found myself thinking about the the message she wanted to get out, the connections she made in her life, and the choices she made for herself. In all, it was well worth the read, and the lovely cover art, though completely unrelated to the novel, really did not let me down. An interesting read and an author to watch.
Profile Image for Hermes Aponte.
71 reviews9 followers
July 27, 2015
Actual Rating: 3.5/ 5 stars

>I received a finished copy of this novel through the Goodreads First Reads program.<

The Big Wide Calm was quite different from the books I've read. It dealt with the rising of Paige Plant, a singer-songwriter who wanted to be famous and change the world. Yes, it sounds ambitious and indeed she started off as arrogant, but through the course of the book, she changed and learned to take it all in by being grateful. She couldn't have done anything without John's help, an aged man who gave her housing and a studio to record in for free, in exchange for her commitment to music and completing a twelve song album. It sounds sketchy and mysterious at first, but John's intentions are good and his background goes way back, although we get to see bits and pieces of it as the plot moved forward, giving the reader insight on his true self.

At the beginning, I really liked the novel and the concept, but as the story progressed, there were certain things that I found disturbing, such as all the sexual content portrayed. I found it unnecessary and off-putting, too much of it to be exact. On the other hand, the relationships she built along the way and the "tribe", or group of friends, that she developed were interesting and relieving because it helped her move on. One thing I really loved was seeing how her album came together and getting to read all the songs, which were beautiful and amazing in their own way, especially the last one, the title song.

Overall, this was a quick and interesting read full of music and personal growth, with some U-turns and sad moments (I mean, everybody knows dogs are best kept alive) that turned out to be entertaining and different. It gives an inside look at the journey some aspiring musicians must overcome and how the song writing process works. Leaving aside all the unnecessary sexual scenes that were quite troubling for my taste, this was a pretty decent read.
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