This is a darling story about 35-year-old Ave Maria Mulligan, who lives in the small Appalachian town Big Stone Gap, Virginia. She's resigned her role in life to be the town's summer play director, pharmacist, and spinster. But shortly after her mother's death, secrets about Ave Maria and her mother begin to surface, changing how Ave perceives who she is, who were parents were, and where she came from. With new understanding about herself, Ave has to decide what to with the new version of herself.
This book was thoroughly entertaining. I've talked about a book drawing me in, like water being absorbed into a sponge. This book did it from page one. The characters are genuinely characters! Each one is unique and genuine and play their role in the town. I loved the quirkiness of the town population, the genuine feel of community.
I loved Ave. I'm a 32-year-old married woman, but there were many things I could relate to with Ave. It's a woman thing. No matter where we live or our situation in life, there are things we're going to relate to. I'm a woman and I love a romance story that exists for the sake of the romance, for the chase and the mystery and drama. This story dives into family relationships, and I found a lot of truth in what Ave discovers about a grown-up child's relationship with his/her parents.
I love what Ave learns about her Italian heritage. My grandmother was a first-generation Italian-American, and a lot of the things Trigiani describes as Italian characteristics I have often seen in myself, such as being very expressive and talking with my hands. Little things like that my husband doesn't understand about me, but I don't know how to communicate with the world without those habits! hah!
I enjoyed everything about this book. For the sensitive reader, I'll warn you there are some sexually suggestive passages, mild language, and pre-marital intimacy.
There are three more books about Ave Maria: "Big Cherry Holler," "Milk Glass Moon," and "Home to Big Stone Gap." I'd love to read more about Ave. As I've learned more about Trigiani, I'm excited by the number of highly acclaimed books she's written--and I'm surprised I've never heard of her before. I think this is an author I'd like to explore more. You should, too.