Friday, August 17, 2007

Big Stone Gap & Pizza Dough

It's been a busy week and I've been doing some reading. I just finished a novel that was published in 2001 called Big Stone Gap.


A wholesome Cinderella story with a winning blend of '70s nostalgia and Appalachian local color, Trigiani's debut introduces a likable heroine who's smart but obtuse, needy but rejecting, and generous with affection but afraid of love. Ave Maria Mulligan is the daughter of the late pharmacist of Bit Stone Gap, Va., and an immigrant Italian seamstress. She inherited the pharmacy when her father died, but it's only her mother's recent death that made Ave realize that, at 35, she's the town spinster. Not that she lacks for attention. Handsome Theodore Tipton, the high school band and choral director, is her best friend, and sexy bombshell Iva Lou Wade, who drives the book mobile that Ave eagerly awaits, is around to offer romantic advice. Plainspoken, direct and humorous, Ave has an amusing foible: having discovered a book on the Chinese art of face reading, she describes everyone in terms of the personality traits their facial features ostensibly demonstrate. In her self-deprecating assessment, Ave has "a mountain girl's body, strong legs, and a flat behind." So when Theodore proposes, and then takes it back, and mountain-man Jack MacChesney then also offers matrimony--out of pity, Ave assumes, so she rejects him--she's near despair. Moreover, a letter left by her mother informs Ave that her real father is a man who lives in Italy. Ave's emotional turmoil takes place against a colorfully detailed tour of Big Stone Gap's history and attractions, including its summer drama festival and its designation as the home of Appalachian bluegrass. Even the actual 1978 visit of senatorial candidate John Warner and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, plays a part in the story. In the tradition of romantic heroines, Ave is unable to recognize true love until it's almost too late, and meanwhile, there are some fairy tale touches, such as the arrival of her entire newly discovered Italian family.

This was a quick read and I enjoyed it. I was intrigued by Ave Maria and her life. The book had funny characters and moments but also dealt with some serious issues in Ave Maria's opinion of herself. It was nice to see her transformation by the end of the book. One big reason I enjoyed this book is because I grew up two miles from Big Stone in a place called Appalachia, Virginia. All the places mentioned in this book were familiar to me and it was like going back there again (which I rarely ever do). I can't believe it took me so long to read it! I liked this well enough that I'll return it to the library and check out the next book in the series, Big Cherry Holler. Look for the review on that one coming soon.

In other news, the girls have been doing alot of reading lately. Logan is enjoying reading from William Bennett's Book of Virtues. We are currently using it for read aloud. There are some really cute stories in the book that teach wonderful morals. She's also finishing up a book called Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. We've been studying WWI and this was her fiction assignment. Next, she's moving on to Dutch Color. She borrowed this book from a friend at church and is very excited about reading it. Caroline has been reading a lot of books from the 1000 Good Books List. She is participating in Barnes & Noble's Summer Reading Program. For every 8 books a child reads, they earn a free book. This ends soon and you can only earn two free books. She completed her first list and I took her to B&N to pick out her free book. She chose Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar. She chose it because it sounded funny. She seems to be enjoying it so far.

Logan sketched some leaves that she picked up on her nature walk last week. I think she did a wonderful job and I really didn't realize how much she liked to sketch things until we did this. We'll be adding more of this to our routine this year!

The girls also worked with pizza dough for the first time last week! We had "Make Your Own Pizza Night" last Friday and I let the girls shape their own dough. I've never done this before because dough is so finicky. Since we were each making our own pizza, I thought I'd get over myself and let them make a mess with it! They really enjoyed it!

Hopefully I'll get back into my blogging grove by next week. I'll have plenty to blog about as soon as we start our new school year. That'll be in a few weeks and I'm trying to finish getting all of my plans together. I guess I should tell the truth and say that I am trying to get myself organized! LOL!

Have a great day today!

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Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh! I just love BSG and the rest in the series, as well!! BSG was my favorite of them all, though. :o)

The pizza making looks fun. We haven't done that yet. Libby asks to make cookies by herself and I panic since she's so messy, LOL.

Loved the leaf sketches!! Lots of talent there! :o)

Anonymous said...

It looks like you have a budding artist on your hands! The pizza making looks like fun!

gail@more than a song said...

I started trying to read a book by Trigiani about a year or so ago but couldn't get into it because of the dialect I think. But I've read some other books now that used something similar so I might do better with it now. Is this one a good one of hers to start with?

LOVE the pics of your girls, they're so cute! And how great that they want to cook, looks like fun and I bet you're glad you let them do it.

LoveMyStarr said...

Sounds like a great book. "The Last Sin Eater" by Francine Rivers that I read takes place in the Smokies. It's still on loan to another friend, but I'll pass it to you when she's finished.

Great for Caroline for reading all those books! And what a fun night making pizzas. I'll bet they'll remember that for a long time!

LoveMyStarr said...

BTW, I nominated you for an award. Come see!!