February 10, 2013
Milk Glass Moon
Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani
2002 Random House
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Milk Glass Moon, the third book in Adriana Trigiani’s bestselling Big Stone Gap series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney as she faces the challenges and changes of motherhood with her trademark humor and honesty. With twists as plentiful as those found on the holler roads of southwest Virginia, this story takes turns that that will surprise and enthrall the reader.
Transporting us from Ave Maria’s home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Italian Alps, from New York City to the Tuscan countryside, Milk Glass Moon is the story of a shifting mother-daughter relationship, of a daughter’s first love and mother’s heartbreak, of an enduring marriage that contains its own ongoing challenges, and of a community faced with seismic change.
All of Trigiani’s beloved characters are back: Jack Mac, Ave Maria’s true love, who is willing to gamble security for the unknown; her best friend and confidant, bandleader Theodore Tipton, who begins a new life in New York City; librarian and sexpert Iva Lou Wade Makin, who faces a life-or-death crisis. Meanwhile, surprises emerge in the blossoming of crusty cashier Fleeta Mullins, the maturing of mountain girl turned savvy businesswoman Pearl Grimes, and the return of Pete Rutledge, the handsome stranger who turned Ave Maria’s world upside down in Big Cherry Holler.
In this rollicking hayride of upheaval and change, Ave Maria is led to places she never dreamed she would go, and to people who enter her life and rock its foundation. As Ave Maria reaches into the past to find answers to the present, readers will stay with her every step of the way, rooting for the onetime town spinster who embraced love and made a family. Milk Glass Moon is about the power of love and its abiding truth, and captures Trigiani at her most lyrical and heartfelt.
I first discovered Big Stone Gap, Adriana Trigiani’s debut novel, over a dozen years ago. It was the summer of 2000 and we had just moved back to Lincoln after living in Fort Worth, Texas for a few years. There’s a lot about that particular summer that I remember quite vividly, but it’s funny how memory eludes us. I would’ve sworn that I loved Big Stone Gap—so much so that I almost re-read the book before I started in on the second in the series—but as I look back through my reading journal for that year, I see that I only gave it a “Good” rating. Apparently, I had a tough time getting interested, but after a few chapters, I was hooked. But still, only an average rating? Had I remembered this, I wonder if I would’ve bothered to continue with this series. Nonetheless, in an effort to start reading more from my shelves, I decided to try the sequel (Big Cherry Holler), but couldn’t get interested and set it aside. I wasn’t planning to continue with any more books from the series, but changed my mind after reading a few comments by readers who mentioned they liked Milk Glass Moon better than the second book. It turns out I did, too. I found it to be a bit reminiscent of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, at least with regard to the setting (in the Blue Ridge Mountains) and the large cast of characters that make up the close-knit community. I also enjoyed reading the passages focusing on the relationship between Ave Maria and her only child, Etta, and found that the dialogue between the two rang true, especially to this mother of an only daughter.
Final Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Milk Glass Moon as well as I did, especially after giving up on the second novel. I was also surprised to learn that it isn’t the final installment in a trilogy, but that there’s a fourth, entitled Home to Big Stone Gap. I don’t own a copy, but maybe I’ll see if it’s available on audio through my library.