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Big Stone Gap

(Big Stone Gap #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  40,927 ratings  ·  2,933 reviews
It's 1978 and Ave Maria Mulligan is a 35-year-old spinster living in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. As the local pharmacist, she's been keeping the townfolk's secrets for years, but she's about to discover a scandal in her own family's past.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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TJ Breeze I have read both of these books and would say that if you liked "the Shoemaker's Wife" you will like "Big Stone Gap". I found both to have great…moreI have read both of these books and would say that if you liked "the Shoemaker's Wife" you will like "Big Stone Gap". I found both to have great character development but was irritated by some repetition of information in both of them. I loved the history in the Shoemaker's Wife and the small town setting in Big Stone Gap.(less)
Georgene Bramlage I read the book and saw the movie. Of interest to me, primarily, of a the local southwest Virginia tie-in. The author did "move" some of the "real"…moreI read the book and saw the movie. Of interest to me, primarily, of a the local southwest Virginia tie-in. The author did "move" some of the "real" Big Stone Gap features around. This irritated some natives. I thought the characters were well developed in both book and movie, but more so in the book. The book encompasses not only some quirky romance but also depicts a woman's search for identity. Importantly, the action is also set aginst small town life in a coal mining area.(less)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,927 ratings  ·  2,933 reviews

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Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Mom
Shelves: fiction, appalachia
If you haven't read and of Adriana Trigiani's books, you MUST put them on your list and then make it a priority to read this entertaining series. Although, not imperative to following the plot, I suggest reading them in order, starting with this one. The simple ups and downs of a woman living in a small Virginia town are delivered with charm and poignancy and I found her writing addictive. I loved the characters and the setting.
Apr 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have a copy of this book I'd be willing to sell/swap, but it's covered with the dried flecks of my vomit.

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

Partial list of things I hate:

1) The voice seems fake. I know the author grew up in Big Stone Gap. I know people in Virginia are ou
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I am so sick of female characters who are confused with their lives and themselves and have to stomp off when someone is trying to tell them something. I think miscommunication is a weak plot point and this book would have been better if the author had the balls to give the main character some balls as well.
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars

Wonderful book about the life and times of a backward coal mining town in Virginia. The author brings the characters alive. Very funny in parts and then gentle, tender and heart breaking in other sections. It will take you back to a simpler time, when doors could be left unlocked and peoples first thought was not "what does he want"?

This is the beginning of a series. One that is well worth the read, giving a person a well deserved break from the hectic rush and the over whelming sense o
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just loved this book!!!
Sep 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
3.5 Star Rating. Fun, light read with some good humor. I am anxious to see the movie. It has been a while since I read a book where I was rooting for a particular love match, so that was fun! This was a great filler read between all the heavy stuff I've been reading. Nice, humorous references to college town and home of my Tennessee Vols! Update: Saw the movie, not bad, but of course, the book is better. (2/12/16)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I really enjoyed Big Stone Gap and was delighted to learn that this is the first in the series of novels featuring the folks of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. It is a feel good novel with a strong southern story line that includes Chinese face reading and a bookmobile! (Remember the bookmobile?) Family secrets, generous hearts, self-discovery. A sit back and relax with a glass of ice tea book ... Perfect summer read.
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. I don't think it belongs in the chick-lit or romance genre, because to me, it is so much more than either one, but "heartwarming" definitely fits. Lots of surprises and a whole cast of quirky, small-town characters to fall in love with. This book made me laugh and cry, even while trying to fall back to sleep listening to it in the middle of the night. The town and its people became real to me and Ave's story is worth reading. The audiobook is performed by t ...more
Debra Anne
This feel-good story is set in the Virginia hills, with a charming cast of small-town personalities that revolve around the narrator, one Ave Maria whose Italian mother had her out of wedlock and brought her up in bluegrass country. So why didn't I give it a higher rating?

Despite the exuberance of the narrator, this is still basically a book with a plotline I hate -- Whiney bitch out to find herself. Typical of these plotlines, Ave Maria, has at least one person madly in love with her -- to the
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adriana-trigiani
This is the second time I read Big Ston Gap and I remember why I enjoyed it so much the first time around. The funny thing is that I have evolved in these past years and I have enjoyed this book for different reasons. I like and I don't like Ave Maria because she's too hard on herself and sometimes even, contrary to what the book pretends, on others. I understand protecting yourself out of self preservation, but in my mind Ave Maria acts more out of ignorance. She's so naive at times! Luckily Av ...more
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.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Booker Hookers
As a group, our overall rating for Big Stone Gap is 3 stars.
Things we liked:
Every member of our book club enjoyed the realistic description of the setting and small town vibe. We have one particular member who is from just outside the real city of Big Stone Gap, and she fully related to every detail, especially the characters, who reminded her of actual people she knew. She pointed out that Appalachian people were represented realistically, as hard-working folks with hopes, dreams, and big heart
This is a 2 1/2 star read. This book was being promoted by the publisher in conjunction with a movie debuting in October 2015. I have heard nothing about the movie, so I am assuming it was a flop. After reading this book, I am trying to think of a reason for making a movie of it. The leading character is nearing her 36th birthday, but seemed as childish as a 15 year old. Ave Maria Mulligan (isn't that an awful name?) apparently is beautiful, smart and industrious, but has never had a boyfriend. ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy things described as "heartwarming".
Made me glad to not live in a tiny, rural community full of nosy, ignorant people. I hate the whole genre that tells us we will be happiest at "home" no matter how impoverished, bigoted, etc our birth region may be. I also hate the message that all every woman needs to be happy and complete is to marry the right guy.

I gave this book two stars (rather than one) only because the writing is decent. Trigiani does a pretty good job creating characters, even if some of them are a bit two-dimensional.
Dramatically Bookish (ReviewsMayVary)
I'm reserving my review for after the book club discussion. They always change my mind. #readWomen
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was searching for a book set in Virginia for a reading challenge and came across Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, set in the late 1970’s. The main character, Ave Maria Mulligan is a 35 year old self-proclaimed spinster and the local pharmacist in Big Stone Gap, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Ave Maria gets called over to the local lawyer’s office where she receives a letter from her recently deceased Italian mother. Her mother tells her the secret of how she came to America and wh
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read Sept. 2016
Just finished a re-read of this and loved it all over again! Fun to revisit the quirky group of characters. :)

Read Jan. 2011
Original review:
I absolutely loved this book! Great characters and story...a total comfort read. I'm moving right on to the next book in the series because I'm not ready to say goodbye to the characters or the Blue Ridge Mountains yet!
I'll bump this up to 3.5. I read this with a couple of friends and that really made this book a lot more fun. If I had read this on my own, not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much as it's not my usual style of story. I think I'll probably move on to the next in the series as I am curious to see what happens next.
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun romantic comedy type story. It made me laugh out loud, which is always a good sign when a book can do that to me! It even made me tear up at a couple of points. There were also some times when the main character annoyed me and I wanted to hit her. But she did come to her senses and all was well in the end so that was good. I didn't have to hit her anymore.... For the most part I was interested and wanting to carry on. There were some parts where I felt there was too much blah-blah ...more
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the seventies in a sleepy hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A thirty-five year old single woman has decided that she is the spinster of Big Stone Gap. She is completely independent; she is the local pharmacist, the co-captain of the Rescue Squad, and the director of the town's long-running Outdoor Drama.

So secure is Ave Maria Mulligan in her position in life and in this community that she will go into a tailspin when things seem to change. These changes begin with a long-burie
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what to think of this novel. I originally checked it out thinking it was a mystery, but it was a novel in the vein of Fanny Flagg, which I do enjoy. I listened to it on audio and unless you are David Sedaris, Sara Vowell, or an otherwise well-known personality associated with a voice, you should not read your own audio books. The author’s reading was a distraction and not a good one. The main character of Ave Maria Mulligan, the thirty-five year old town pharmacist (and town spinster), ...more
**I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.**

I didn’t fall in love with this story because I couldn’t fall in love with the characters. They felt so false and created and I was unable to remove that thought from my mind as I read. I’m a big character reader, I need to be able to suspend reality and fall into their lives or feel like they are sitting right next to me telling me their story. A generic or token cardboard cutout does absolutely nothing for me and that’s exactly th
Barb Terpstra
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My new favorite author is Adriana Trigiani. Wow! Her characters are richly developed. I feel as though I grew up with her friends and family myself. I love how the dialect and way of life reaches out and places you right in the middle of town. I felt that I walked along with Ave Maria instead of looking in on her life. Of course, as a fellow Virginian, I was able to identify with the language dialect and the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is a wonderful read and I encourage anyone to pi ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this book while up in the mountains just now. Ave Maria aand I each lost a mother to breast cancer. While my life is very different from hers, somehow, reading the story with the shared background and loss made it more meaningful for me. We're all a product of our environments, our genes and our circumstances. It was sweet to watch the unfolding of characters, and the explorations into trust. But my original thought still holds: with a main character called Ave Maria Mulligan, how can ...more
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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 eighteen books in fiction and nonfiction, published in 38 languages, making her one of the most sought after speakers in the ...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...” 180 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.” 94 likes
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