Trigiani revisits the sleepy Virginia hamlet of Big Stone Gap.
The author of the Big Stone Gap trilogy (Milk Glass Moon, 2002, etc.) rejoins her small-town characters as Ave Marie and her husband, Jack MacChesney, head home after attending the wedding of their daughter Etta in Italy. The story focuses on Ave Marie as she tackles the ennui of being an empty-nester. Upon her return, Ave Maria resumes her work at the pharmacy and catches up with friends, but she feels a void and soon volunteers to direct the local musical production. There’s plenty of drama waiting for Ave Maria outside the theater doors. First, Jack is stricken with an illness that threatens to widow Ave Maria, and then, Ave Maria has a falling out with her best pal, Iva Lou, over a mysterious stranger who pops up on Thanksgiving Day. Throughout, this can all be a drag: Ave Maria is self-absorbed. The world seems to revolve around her whims and worries. It’s a wonder how she has so many men swooning over her. Her meddling can be a source of amusement, but her stubbornness is grating. When it comes to these characters, Trigiani lets no thought go unmentioned and no inane detail missed. The glorious setting and the disarmingly frank supporting characters save this work from being nothing but mediocre dross.
Cloyingly sweet tale about life and loss in a small country town.