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The Queen of the Big Time    by Adriana Trigiani order for
Queen of the Big Time
by Adriana Trigiani
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Adriana Trigiani, author of The Big Stone Gap trilogy, has a distinct talent for writing poignant and compelling tales. She shows us people who shoulder their responsibilities in life and still manages to make them human, rather than martyrs.

With The Queen of the Big Time, Trigiani has created a wonderful character who, with all her flaws and righteous ways, manages to keep her family around her. Nella Castalucca, living in Roseto, Pennsylvania in the 1920s, plans to be a teacher when she grows up. Those plans are squelched when she is needed to work to help support the family. Life seems hard for Nella as the years roll by. A strong woman, she perseveres and becomes a pillar in the community. What happens in Nella's life isn't as important to the story line as to why it happens. Nella spends a lifetime growing up. Like most of us, she doesn't really appreciate what she has until it is gone. She realizes that what's gone can never be retrieved. But she can change the years she has left.

This is one of Trigiani's stand-alone books. The Big Stone Gap trilogy is an example of artful writing that gathers readers up in its arms, enveloping them in the warmth and comfort and gutsiness of a loving Italian American family. The Queen of the Big Time does the same. Trigiani based the character of Nella on her grandmother - a tribute to a remarkable woman.

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