Book Review: The Big Stone Gap Series by Adriana Trigiani

In the town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, not much happens. The highlight of 35-year-old Ave Maria Mulligan's week comes on Friday, with the arrival of the Bookmobile, the sight of which sends her into raptures. Her favorite book concerns the ancient Chinese art of reading faces. Through her face-readings, we come to understand the hostilities simmering within her family: her father whose small eyes are the clear "sign of a deceptive nature." Her aunt who "has a small head and thin lips. (That's a terrible combination.)" Adriana Trigiani's first novel concerns the family scandals that befall Ave Maria in this seemingly uneventful town. Greed, lust, envy--all the ancient emotional elements--manifest themselves even in this hamlet of "ordinary folk." Fans of Fannie Flagg or Rebecca Wells will enjoy this down-home tale, full of small, everyday details and colloquial revelations. The writing is often awkward, but so too are the characters who inhabit this place: the Bookmobile lady who thinks of herself as the sexiest woman alive; the amateur actors in the local Outdoor Drama who bristle with ambition when they hear that Elizabeth Taylor is coming to visit. In Big Stone Gap, her visit is so anticipated, it's like she's an angel sent from heaven.

The books in order are:  Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. 

What's more fun than a series about someone who loves to read?  Right from the beginning, I knew I was going to like Ave Maria Mulligan.  Aside from our shared love of reading, she's a very likeable character.  The series is based on her and written in the first person, which I love. 

Ave Maria is a woman at a crossroads in her life.  Her mother has recently died of cancer and Ave Maria is unmarried at 35 years old.  The books chronicle her search for love, fulfillment, and reconnecting with her extended family. 

I love the way Adriana Trigiani writes.  Her characters are so likeable and realistic.  Trigiani's books are heavy on the struggles and everyday life of her characters, which from some authors would be boring, but Trigiani's writing keeps it fun.  There's a lot of emotion in this series and the series spans about 25 years.  I like a series or book that spans a long length of time like that---it answers any questions I have about their futures. 

Just One Gripe:
(Thinking hard here).  The only thing I can really say is that the first book was a little slower than the rest.  That's to be expected with a debut novel, in my opinion.

The Best Thing About This Series:
I love the way Trigiani writes about women and their emotions and relationships.  This would be a great series for a women's book club.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters:  5/5
Plot:  4/5
Setting/Imagery:  5/5
Originality:  4/5
Ending:  4/5
Total Score:  22/25


  1. Hi Kelli!
    I just got the Ken Follet book and bought the last one in the Harris series. Can't wait to start these too!

    Have a great weekend!

    PK Reeves
    Aisle B
    PS Love your motto.. I've said that to my little clan (husband and kids) and they know better than to intrude when the reading light is ON! Flashing red!

  2. Hi PK! Thank you for the comment! Have you read any of Big Stone Gap yet?
    Yes, my husband knows not to talk to me when I'm reading. When I'm in the middle of a book all I want to do is read!


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