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The Queen of the Big Time : A Novel Hardcover – July 6, 2004

158 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in early 20th-century smalltown America, Trigiani's fifth novel (after the Big Stone Gap trilogy and Lucia, Lucia) tells a heartfelt but clumsy story of strong women enduring the rigors of farm life and the trials of romantic and familial relations. At its worst, the novel is a morass of incomplete story lines, underdeveloped characters and inconsistent tenses. Still, readers who've fallen for Trigiani's hallmark personages—Italian immigrants living the American dream in rural Pennsylvania—in previous books will delight in meeting these new ones. Nella Castelluca has brains and ambition; she hopes to someday become a teacher. Alas, when her father is injured at work, she must quit school and stay home to help on the family farm. Her first dream slips away, but working farm life turns out to be not so bad, and Nella eventually falls for the dreamy poet Renato Lanzara. But when he skips town, dream two is crushed, and Nella faces a tough reality: marry another man, and move on. Easier said than done, of course, and Trigiani spends the rest of the book drawing out the saga. Although the writing never rises above B-level, the novel does paint a thorough picture of Italian-American family life and the deep pain of lost love.
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Praise for The Queen of the Big Time:

“Moving and poignant ...Trigiani has again defied categorization. She is more than a one-hit wonder, more than a Southern writer, more than a women’s novelist. She is an amazing young talent.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A sweet story of growing up, marrying, and dying within the framework of family, love, and community...[The Queen of the Big Time] will make you smile and reminisce about gentler, more civil times in small-town and rural America.”
The Boston Globe

“Trigiani takes from her own heritage to craft a generous plot-driven novel that’s a breezy page-turner ... ‘Queen’ offers a personal saga of American history and a romance woven together with warmth and good humor.”

“Full-bodied and elegantly written ... Trigiani builds [The Queen of the Big Time] around an old-fashioned love story ...Pure pleasure.”
Washington Post Book World

“Deaths lead to births, dreams deferred yield wondrous new visions [in The Queen of the Big Time] ... intensely detailed characters.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Heartfelt ... Readers who have fallen for Trigiani’s hallmark personages ... in previous books will delight in meeting the new ones É [Paints] a thorough picture of Italian-American family life and the deep pain of lost love.”–Publishers Weekly

Praise for Adriana Trigiani and Lucia, Lucia
“Trigiani's writing is as dazzling as Lucia's dresses.”
USA Today

“Fast-moving, funny, visual, and moving. . . A vibrant, loving, wistful portrait of a lost time and place. Every page is engrossing and begs us to read the next.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Seamlessly superb storytelling . . . Trigiana never loses hold of the hearts of her characters–or of the wisdom that tragedy and redemption are also part of life.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“This heartwarming tale is full of lessons about taking risks in life and love.”

“Compelling...a breezy read.”
Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • Series: Trigiani, Adriana
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400060060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400060061
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for fifteen bestsellers, including the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Lucia, Lucia; the Valentine series; the Viola series for young adults and the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table. She is the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary Queens of the Big Time. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown, to be released nationwide in the fall of 2015. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By K. VINE VOICE on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not one of those women who reads any book that talks about "love" and swoons for days over how "romantic" it was. I find those thinly-written pulp-romance books tiring in their lack of an original plot. That is why i LOVE Adriana Trigiani! Her novels have just the PERFECT amount of romance, and an even more perfect amount of reality. Her books are gloriously engaging, full of richness and familiarity. They have far more depth than the "romantic" fluff that most of today's books aimed at woman contain.

I have loved each of her books more than the last. Her writing just keep getting better and better, and I am so excited to what she comes out with next. In my opinion, Queen of the Big Time is her best novel yet. I grew so attached to the characters, and cried my eyes out, and loved them so much, that i was torn between finishing the book as fast as i could, or savoring every page to stretch out my time with the Castellucas & Zollanos.

Perfect. Just perfect.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Mitchell on July 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Adriana Trigiani returns in her 5th novel, drawing us back to the charms of small town life, a rich Italian heritage and loyalty to family.

In The Queen of the Big Time, Trigiani focuses on her central character Nella, who has dreams of attending college and becoming a teacher. Circumstances happen, however, that force Nella to work in the local blouse factory, destroying her dreams of furthering her education. The sparkle that remains however is her romance with the town heart throb Renato. Unfortunately, things are not to be with Renato and Trigiani takes us down an exciting and meaningful path with a colorful cast of characters and surprising twists and turns.

As in her previous novels, Trigiani brings themes of personal dreams, her love for her Italian roots, love and romance, and deep insights into people of all dimensions. Picking up her novel is like picking up a conversation with an old friend..immediately warm and inviting.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By mamareadssomuch on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Loved this book ~ so eager for it to come out and I wasn't dissapointed.

Nella's hopes of becoming a teacher go a different way as her help is needed to help support the family. You feel her longing to cultivate her education but understand the need her father has in asking for her to work.

Nella falls deep in love with Renato but their fate is up to the reader to find out. A surprising twist lurks the reader in a different direction and Nella finds herself attracted to another man, Franco.

This is a beautiful sweeping story that was good beginning to end. My only complaint would be that it covered a big chunk of time quickly but was good while it lasted.

I look forward to more books by this author.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sheila A. Reiter on July 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved "Lucia, Lucia" but this is even better. It's so easy to fall in love yourself with the people who fall in love in Trigiani's books. She writes with a knowledge of the deepest feelings of a very independent woman who has loved and lost. More importantly she keeps that love in her heart all the days of her life despite marrying and living happily with another man. A warm and loving portrait of a family who truly love each other and who laugh and cry together all the while striving for a better life. They do not forget their origins though and return to their roots more than once. This is a story to hold in your heart and to cherish along with all the truly wonderful tales you keep on your book shelf. READ THIS BOOK!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Queen of the Big Time was the first Adriana Trigiani book I have read. I've just placed an order for every book she's written, including the cookery book! This book is a beautiful story about three generations of an Italian family living in America and the main character's journey through life and love. I think every girl with fire in her blood will see something of herself in this book. A GREAT read. Enjoy!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Some books, particularly romantic fiction, are like potato chips --- tasty little morsels that offer a brief but satisfying crunch. You don't expect them to satisfy your hunger but they'll do for the moment. Others are more like multi-course meals --- epic sagas that take you weeks to read and leave you feeling sated, if slightly overly full --- like a great dinner at an exclusive restaurant; you can't do it all the time, but when it happens, it's a memorable event.

Adriana Trigiani's THE QUEEN OF THE BIG TIME doesn't fall into either of these categories: it's the home-cooked meal no one makes quite like your Mom --- whether your Mom specialized in pot roast, baked ziti or arroz con pollo. Warm, satisfying and filling, without being overly rich, it's a book meant to be savored.

THE QUEEN OF THE BIG TIME tells the story of three generations of the Castelluca family, who live near Roseto, Pennsylvania. The novel centers on Nella Castelluca, her parents and her sisters, as they grow up on a farm outside of Roseto. Nella meets and falls in love with the most popular boy in town, Renato Lanzara. Renato's fondness for books and poetry match well with Nella's own love of learning, and it seems like a match made in heaven. Then, inexplicably, Renato leaves Nella and Roseto altogether, breaking poor Nella's heart. Four years later, just as Nella is about to start a new life with another man, Renato returns.

Trigiani's novel reads, in part, like a love letter to the immigrant families that settled in eastern Pennsylvania from Italy in the 1800s and worked hard to maintain their customs and way of life. The book takes its name from the town's biggest annual celebration --- "The Big Time" --- which is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt.
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