This follow-up to Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap (2000) offers many of the same characters, much of the same town, and all of the same contrived hokiness that characterized her previous work. Ave Maria McChesney (neé Mulligan) and husband Jack are still living in Big Stone Gap, Virginia—although now they share their home with their young daughter Etta—and Ave Maria still works at the pharmacy she used to own (her boss, Pearl Grimes, once worked for her—but that’s another story). But in short order some clouds appear on the horizon. Ave Maria decides to take Etta to visit her father in Italy for the summer, and Jack needs to stay behind to keep an eye on business. So, after only eight years of marriage, Ave Maria finds herself the subject of the not-altogether-unwelcome advances of Pete Rutledge (an American in Italy), while Jack has to contend with the sultry Karen Bell (a sales rep with an eye for more than the bottom line). Turnabout is fair play, of course, but the real question is: Who is cheating on whom? When you both have to make things right, there’s more incentive not to mess up—or, at least, to clean up the mess together.
As corny as a county fair, but appealing in its way.