From Publishers Weekly
The delightful Blue Ridge Mountain town of Big Stone Gap, Va., once again comes to life through the voice of Ave Maria MacChesney in Trigiani's fourth entry in the series. Ave has just returned from an emotional trip to daughter Etta's wedding in Italy with her husband, Jack. As Ave learns to juggle empty-nest freedoms with the ache of loss, Jack's sudden health problems send Ave into a quiet panic. She struggles to be supportive while imagining the worst. Her fears allayed, she ends up directing the town's annual winter musical, a production of The Sound of Music
that would send the Von Trapp family heading for the hills. Adding to the mix, Ave's close buddy, Iva Lou, becomes distant when a long-held secret surfaces, threatening their friendship. Thankfully, Theodore Tipton, the town "rock star," returns from New York City for a holiday visit. Memorable characters and smalltown magic (including recipes) continue to have appeal, but unwanted pregnancies, mountain strip-mining, the rearing up of old griefs and a trip to Scotland (given short shrift) have a kitchen-sink feel. (Nov.)
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*Starred Review* Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is Big Stone Gap, the bucolic backdrop for Trigiani's popular series. In this fourth entry, Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney and her husband, Jack, must come to terms with the absence of daughter Etta, newly married and living in Italy. (The country holds a special place in Ave Maria's heart: her biological father, Mario, whom she learned of and met only after her mother's death, is Italian.) Ave Maria has plenty to keep her mind off missing her only child (the MacChesney's son, Joe, died of leukemia at age four). She's a full-time pharmacist and the newly appointed director of the town's annual musical. Then comes news that her longtime friend, glamorous librarian Iva Lou, has been keeping a startling secret for nearly 20 years. Other developments, including a health scare for Jack and a Christmas visit from a colorful former resident, move the plot along briskly. With her original cast of characters, playwright and television writer Trigiani blends playfulness and pathos in this evocative portrait of a small southern town. Fans of the Big Stone Gap series can look forward to a feature film; Trigiani has written the screenplay and is slated to direct. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved