An irritatingly hokey, inept attempt to invade Fannie Flagg territory.
Ave Maria Mulligan, a pharmacist in Big Stone Gap, discovers she has a long-lost Italian father, saves Elizabeth Taylor
from choking on a chicken wing, and follows her friend Iva Lou's advice and gets her a workingman. It's 1978, and Ave
Maria's mother has passed away, leaving a letter stating that mean old Fred Mulligan wasn't her daughter’s real father. It's
unclear why Mama never told anyone, but Ave Maria's father is Mario Barbari, a boy she knew back in Bergamo. Iva Lou
Wade—a promiscuous, worldly-wise woman who calls everyone “honey-o” or “sweetie-o”—drives the Bookmobile. She finds
a book on Bergamo that just happens to have a picture of Mario. Ave Maria, who ruminates incessantly, is reeling from all this
news and, in a truly bizarre move, sells her pharmacy—for one dollar—to Pearl Grimes, a poor, overweight teenaged girl she'd
recently hired. Meanwhile, Ave Maria lusts after the high-school band director, who initially spurns her. She, in turn, is the
object of Jack Mac's affection, though he proposed to someone else on stage on the closing night of the Outdoor Drama, which
Ave Maria directs. Ave Maria is also a member of the rescue squad and, when Elizabeth Taylor comes to town with her
husband, senatorial candidate John Warner, to attend a high-school football game, she helps the choking actress get to the
hospital. To add insult to cornball, the blushing, bumbling Jack Mac woos a surprised Ave Maria by selling his precious pickup
truck to pay for her father and aunts to come to America. The couple will wed and name their child Fiametta Bluebell.
Trigiani lacks subtlety, and the fun is lost in the desire to be taken seriously. The Dukes of Hazzard written as if it were
a homiletic drama. (First printing of 150,000; author tour)