"Real books have pages," Laura Ware wrote, "I was raised with books. I
learned to read early on and my addiction to books remains to this day.
We hold enough books in our home to supply a small library. And more
keep finding their way in. To me, there may be a place for e-book
readers for some things. But I'm still going to spend quality time in
bookstores, flipping pages, getting lost in what I'm reading until real
life reminds me the clock is ticking." From Shelf Awareness, a bookstore and book news e-newsletter
I completely agree with Ms Ware,above,hence I've not purchased a Kindle or any other e-reading device, other than my computer (and I still do not like reading books in PDF, it gives me eyestrain).
On to the novels! I've just finished the fourth book in the Big Stone Gap series, and I wanted to let everyone know how delightful and consuming they were, keeping me up til all hours to find out what happens next with Ave Maria and the gang in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
Big Cherry Holler, the second book, was followed by Milk Glass Moon, and finally Home to Big Stone Gap. Ave Maria and her husband Jack MacChesney (known as Jack Mac) have a daughter by the second book, and a son that they lose to leukemia when he's only 4 years old. Ave and Jack have a bit of mid-life crisis to work out, wherein she must choose between her husband and Pete Rutledge, a handsome American stone buyer she meets in Italy when she's visiting family. Though I knew she would do the right thing and choose her husband, I was surprised that Ave didn't have just one roll in the hay with Rutledge, who is described as looking like a young Rock Hudson...he sounded so tempting. Yet Jack Mac also resisted the temptation of a widow bent on stealing him away from his family. There is a great deal of growing up on the part of Ave, Jack Mac and their daughter in the third and fourth books, and when their daughter marries an Italian youth and decided to go to college in Italy, it seems fairly certain that the MacChesneys are headed for a move of residence to be near their daughter, who is pregnant by the fourth book. Yet Trigiani, the author, doesn't solve things that neatly, leaving the reader with hope for a fifth book in the series, if nothing else to see what happens to some of the town characters, like Fleeta, who finally marries, and Pearl, who moves to Boston with her family. Trigiani has a deep sense of who her characters are as people, so they seem real and they progress, change, and grow throughout the books. Her plots are never convoluted, but do provide the occaisional side path that keeps readers interested in where she's going. The prose is sweet and lush with descriptions of beauty in both Virginia and Italy, and the accents pop off the page in an authentic way. The Big Stone Gap books read something like Jan Karon's Mitford series, without the preachy Father Tim and the religious stuffiness that's salted throughout her books.
With these dark economic times upon us, I sincerely felt the need for books that were hopeful, enlightening, entertaining and just plain fun. Trigiani fit the bill nicely, and allowed me to escape to a world where community support was everywhere, and newspapers weren't all closing down and banks forclosing on houses every day. The HEA endings are all believable, not sticky sweet, and Ave Maria's struggles with her emotional life, her marriage, her grief, her abandonment issues, etc, all have the ring of truth about them. Yet because she overcomes her issues, I felt there was hope for my own recovery from family crisis.
I highly recommend these books to anyone who needs a comforting, happy read.