Big Stone Gap
I read the Big Stone Gap series (Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap) several years ago. They are written by Adriana Trigiani, and all 4 books are very good. They are engaging, yet quick reads. And they are relatively clean versions of “chick-lit”. They all center around the character Ave Maria, who lives as a transplant from Italy in the mountain town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Big Stone Gap is a small coal town, and Ave Maria has never quite fit in. She’s what the locals call a “ferriner”. And she’s still reeling from mother’s death. But just as she’s about to head back to Italy and leave what is actually a very rich life behind, she starts to see how much (and how many) she’d be leaving behind. Finally, as she opens herself to all that life has to offer, she experiences such true community and depth with the people around her. And she manages to make true connections along the way–both with the people of Big Stone Gap, and her family back home in Italy.
I loved the way these books were set in both Northern Italy (in the mountains of Bergamo) and in the mountains of Virginia. The characters–all of them–were so multidimensional! Trigiani did an amazing job crafting believable, authentic people with real-life issues. I found myself really relating to Ave Maria, and to some of the ways she interacted with her husband, daughter, and friends. I actually went back and reread these books about a month ago, and found that I enjoyed them just as much as the first time; even wishing there were more books in the series, continuing the story of these characters!