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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2003
I bought this on a whim as I saw the third part of the trilogy, and was intrigued. This is such a great read. Ave Maria feels like a real person telling her story - she has a history of people who all add to the story, and add to her character. The townsfolk are not stereotypes, they have flaws and strengths, and secrets adding to the story's interest. You don't often read about pharmacists and librarians so it feels refreshing. Jack Mac was my favourite man - I can see him totally! But Theodore is a male friend, and such a good friend - yet the author also shows the problems of sex and friendship. The story is about family secrets, the feeling of being a spinster in your thirties, and the need for change in your thirties before you feel middle aged. It's spot on! Ave Maria is an Italian descendent, and for me, lit up the book with her Italian character - like Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta. I read this in a couple of days, staying up late, and lying in late. I was annoyed I had to get out of bed to be honest. Can't wait to read Big Cherry Holler (and there's a sneaky start at the end of this book, so I NEED to read on!).
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on 3 October 2002
A superb debut novel, I found it absolutely impossible to put down. Funny, quirky and charming, I cannot recommend this book enough. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations of Ave Maria Mulligan's life. I laughed and cried in equal measure, a wonderful book read it as soon as possible!!!
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on 12 March 2003
This is one of my favourite reads. It was a complete surprise with amazing characters, wonderful descriptions and expressions. The saying 'Life is a mystery to be enjoyed, not a problem to be solved' has become my mantra. I can thoroughly recommend it as I 'missed' the characters when the book was finished.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 September 2009
This is a Doris Day world with a backdrop of rolling Virginia mountains and small-town, picket-fence romance. The plot concerns the love-life and social whirl of Ave Maria, whose mother has just died, leaving behind a fairy-tale secret about her daughter's origins in Italy. While uncovering and deciding what to do about this, Ave almost gets the wrong man and repulses the right one, but good sense prevails in the end.

Much of this book is like one of those Hallmark birthday cards with a patchwork bunny rabbit on it - charming but a little too sweet - and much of the text is as trite as the verse inside. Throughout, we get the wisdom of The Chinese Art of Face Reading, a favourite tract of our heroine's, so while we might know what everyone looks like and exactly how that's supposed to reveal their character, we get to know very little about how they think. Everything revolves around Ave Maria, who is just the best, the most generous, the hardest-working and the prettiest thirty-five year-old woman you could ever wish to meet. Ave's been so careful to live up to her mother's high expectations that she's forgotten that she deserves to love and be loved. Pass the sick bag Doris.
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on 29 March 2014
I loved the fourth book in this series. Actually I've never read no.1 but 2-4 and LOVED them all. The book takes you to small town America and then to other parts of the world through small-town American eyes. So well written. A pleasure for middle-aged mothers especially :)
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on 3 April 2015
Was so thrilled to find a 4th book in the Big Stone Gap series and bereft now that I have finished it and it is the last.I live in England but have spent time in that area of the States so it was fascinating for me.
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on 17 February 2013
I bought this book from serenity bookshop. It arrived within two days . It was in excellent condition. I would definitely buy from them again.
As all of Adriana Trigiana books it was a pleasure to read. I have read all of this series and I feel that I am part of the family. I await the next one which I am sure will be just as good.
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on 3 January 2007
The story of a 35 year-old Italian-American self-proclaimed spinster in a small, town in the mountains of Virginia, who finally decides to open herself to life, to the people around her, and eventually to love.

Romantic, but down to earth, funny, touching, and warm.

NB: I'd ordered this at the same time as Big Cherry Holler, and read them back-to-back, as I wasn't quite ready to put Ave Maria and the rest of Big Stone Gap's residents down at the end of the book.
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on 9 April 2007
I loved the previous three books in this series but I thought this one was let down by the rubbish written about Scotland- where quite a chunk of the action in this book takes place. Castles in Glasgow? All farming is organic? Ordinary houses with basements? Snowdrops and roses at the same time?
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on 3 April 2016
Reviewers must try and remember this is book 4, not book 1 with a similar title. I also love the trilogy so much I've read them several times but I don't know what happened to the proof readers this time. Why is Worley no longer married to Leah? I'm from the UK, what are yams? I'm sure no one uses that word never mind grows them in Scotland. Daffodils come out in spring, rhododendrons in summer. I was very disappointed with this book. Rice flour in shortbread? The Scots don't use cups for their recipes. If you read this book first don't let it put you off reading the trilogy.
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