I was drawn in by the cover of this book, with it’s country house wall and a window reflecting the mountains. It’s the story of Ave Maria, a woman who thought that she’d always be single, and who has married the love of her life. Living with her husband and daughter in the hills of Virginia, the book continues the story that started in the book Big Stone Gap, which I haven’t read, but I feel like you don’t really need to read it to enjoy this book.
When the mines close, Jack MacChesney, Ave Maria’s husband, finds himself out of the work that he loves and at a cross roads in life. As he starts a new business, Ave Maria notices his budding friendship with an attractive female contractor. Is she just being jealous? Or have the emotional tolls on their past relationship pushed Jack away?
I really enjoyed this book. I loved sinking into the world of the mountains and the characters that live there. This book is often delightfully funny, and bittersweet. It focuses on women, love, friendship and community, and loss. I liked the vulnerability of Ave Maria and her take on life and the events that have brought her to her current predicament. Reading this book felt like sinking into an arm chair by the fire while it rains outside, it’s warm and comforting.
One thing that didn’t spoil the book for me but that I didn’t really like, so I feel I should mention it: the reasons that Jack gives for his relationship with the other woman. He blames Ave Maria and she accepts that. It’s an odd choice.
Read It If: you love books about small town American life, about women and relationships. Bittersweet.