Born in Roseto, PA; married Tim Stephenson (a lighting designer for television); children: Lucia. Education: St. Mary's College, graduated 1981.
Writer of novels, plays, and television plays. Producer, documentary filmmaker, and comic. Worked previously as cook, office worker, and housecleaner. Part of comedy troupe, The Outcasts.
"BIG STONE GAP" SERIES; NOVELS
Big Stone Gap, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Big Cherry Holler, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Milk Glass Moon, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Home to Big Stone Gap, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Lucia, Lucia, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
The Queen of the Big Time, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Rococo, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Mary Yolanda Trigiani and others) Cooking with My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes from Bari to Big Stone Gap, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of off-Broadway play Secrets of the Lava Lamp, produced at Manhattan Theatre Club. Writer and producer of documentary Queens of the Big-Time, 1996. Contributor to anthology American Girls about Town, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2004. Writer for television programs, including A Different World, The Cosby Show, Good Sports, CityKids, Linc's, and Working It Out.
Novelist and television screenwriter Adriana Trigiani found the inspiration for her "Big Stone Gap" series of novels in her childhood. Born into an Italian immigrant family, Trigiani moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a small valley town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, when she was six years old. Remote and isolated, Big Stone Gap was surrounded by mountains that prevented television reception, and "magazines from the Bookmobile were my connection to the world—and they came a month late," Trigiani told Benedicte Page in a Bookseller interview. Trigiani left this isolated setting when she attended St. Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. She excelled in writing there, and subsequently went to New York, aspiring to become a playwright. She founded the all-girl comedy team The Outcasts and worked for five years writing, directing, and performing with the troupe. She also scripted an off-Broadway play and wrote for television. Big Stone Gap started out as a screenplay, but when Trigiani was unable to sell it, her agent suggested she rework it as a novel.
Ave Maria Mulligan is the town pharmacist in Big Stone Gap. Thirty-five years old and already convinced that she will be a spinster for life, she lives vicariously through the love life of her friend Iva Lou Wade, a bookmobile librarian. When Ave Maria discovers that her father was not who she thought he was, she begins a search for her biological father and her identity. "Chock full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists, this Gap is meant to be crossed," remarked Cynthia Sanz in People. Rebecca Sturm Kelm, writing in Library Journal, called the book a "nice, old-fashioned, feel-good first novel," while Sanz declared it to be "delightfully quirky."
The sequel to Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, picks up the story of Ave Maria's life about a decade later. She and miner Jack MacChesney have been married for eleven years. Their daughter, Etta, is a bright and lively young girl. Some years earlier, however, the couple lost their young son, Joe, to leukemia, and his death put a seemingly irreparable fracture in their relationship. Their marriage is stressed further when Jack loses his job. Ave Maria and Etta head off to stay with family in Italy for a while, and Ave Maria finds her dedication and fidelity tested by a new acquaintance in Italy. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Big Cherry Holler a "big-hearted novel that alternates dollops of comfort with moments of folksy charm and stark poignancy."
Mother-daughter conflict forms the core of Trigiani's third novel, Milk Glass Moon. Etta MacChesney has matured into an independent and self-assured young woman, but Ave Maria MacChesney has difficulty in letting go and allowing Etta to forge her own path. The MacChesney family, along with Iva Lou, visit Italy for some soul-searching in Ave Maria's ancestral homeland. "The final installment of Trigiani's heartfelt trilogy will not disappoint fans" and longtime readers, commented Margaret Flanagan in Booklist.
Trigiani stepped outside Big Stone Gap in Lucia, Lucia, a novel set in modern-day Greenwich Village, New York. Lucia Sartori, a dignified Italian lady of some seventy years, invites Kit Zanetti, a local hopeful playwright, to tea. Kit marvels at the 1950s memorabilia in Lucia's apartment, and when she asks about a luxurious full-length mink coat, Lucia shares her life story. "Finely drawn characters move the story along with warmth and humor, [and] relationships in Lucia's big Italian family are lovingly detailed," observed Carol Clark in School Library Journal. "This old-fashioned drama wears its heart on its sleeve—subtlety is not its strong suit—but readers will laugh and weep for Lucia and her lost dreams," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.
Trigiani again chose a different setting for her novel Rococo, published in 2005. It takes place in New Jersey, and in another break with her earlier works, its main character is a man, Bartolomeo di Crespi. "B," as he is better known, is a confirmed bachelor and a highly successful interior decorator who longs to renovate his local Catholic church, where he has attended Mass all his life. Passed over at first, he manages to get the job after a confrontation with the parish priest, but B then is confronted with the realization that he may not be equal to the task before him. "The renovation and the people he meets during it leave him questioning not only his abilities as a designer, but ultimately his faith. Trigiani's fascination with family dynamics shines through loud and clear in her tales of the raucous Italian-American di Crespi clan," wrote Amy Scribner on the BookPage Web site. She concluded: "Throughout this fast-paced, abundantly charming novel, Trigiani focuses on the things that really matter: family, faith and home. Especially home. It is a deeply rewarding book that should make her legions of fans very happy indeed." Another positive assessment came from Kathy Perschmann on the Armchair Interviews Web site; she credited Trigiani with giving readers of Rococo "another great Italian-American family and tale."
In 2006, Trigiani revisited the scene of her first success in a new novel called Home to Big Stone Gap. Set several years after the last installment of the series, the book sees Ave Maria and Jack struggling to adjust after their daughter, Etta, marries and takes up a new life in Italy. Old secrets from the past also spring up to rattle long-standing relationships. "To say more about the plotline of Home to Big Stone Gap would ruin it, because much of the joy here is in the unexpected—like taking a walk through your long-forgotten hometown and rounding the corner, only to bump into your best friend from your school days," wrote Lourdes Orive on Bookreporter.com. According to a Pub-lishers Weekly reviewer, Home to Big Stone Gap succeeds in providing readers with "memorable characters and smalltown magic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2000, Marlene Chamberlain, review of Big Stone Gap, p. 997; May 15, 2001, Marlene Chamberlain, review of Big Cherry Holler, p. 1734; July, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Milk Glass Moon, p. 1823; September 1, 2003, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Lucia, Lucia, pp. 62-63; July 1, 2005, Barbara Jacobs, review of Rococo, p. 1902; October 1, 2006, Allison Block, review of Home to Big Stone Gap, p. 38.
Bookseller, December 13, 2002, Benedicte Page, interview with Adriana Trigiani, p. 29.
Entertainment Weekly, April 14, 2000, review of Big Stone Gap, p. 68; July 11, 2003, Jennifer Armstrong, review of Lucia, Lucia, p. 85; June 17, 2005, Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of Rococo, p. 87; November 3, 2006, Tina Jordan, review of Home to Big Stone Gap, p. 83.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of Milk Glass Moon, p. 703; May 15, 2003, review of Lucia, Lucia, p. 712; May 15, 2005, review of Rococo, p. 563; September 1, 2006, review of Home to Big Stone Gap, p. 874.
Library Journal, April 1, 2000, Rebecca Sturm Kelm, review of Big Stone Gap, p. 133; May 15, 2001, Rebecca Sturm Kelm, review of Big Cherry Holler, p. 165; May 15, 2003, Rebecca Sturm Kelm, review of Lucia, Lucia, p. 127.
People, May 1, 2000, Cynthia Sanz, review of Big Stone Gap, p. 41; July 29, 2002, review of Milk Glass Moon, p. 41; July 18, 2005, Beth Perry, review of Rococo, p. 51.
Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2001, review of Big Cherry Holler, p. 52; June 24, 2002, review of Milk Glass Moon, p. 39; July 7, 2003, review of Lucia, Lucia, p. 54; August 18, 2003, Joseph Barbato, interview with Adriana Trigiani, pp. 51-52; October 4, 2004, review of American Girls about Town, p. 70; May 30, 2005, review of Rococo, p. 40; September 4, 2006, review of Home to Big Stone Gap, p. 38.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Carol Clark, review of Lucia, Lucia, pp. 176-177.
USA Today, August 28, 2003, Carol Memmott, "There Was a Real ‘Lucia’ in New York," p. D07.
Adriana Trigiani Home Page,http://www.adrianatrigiani.com (June 24, 2007).
Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (June 24, 2007), Kathy Perschmann, review of Rococo.
Bella Stander Home Page,http://www.bellastander.com/ (July 10, 2007), interview with Adriana Trigiani.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (June 24, 2007), Amy Scribner, interview with Adriana Trigiani.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (June 24, 2007), Lourdes Orive, review of Home to Big Stone Gap.
EW.com,http://www.ew.com/ (June 13, 2005), Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of Rococo; (October 27, 2006), Tina Jordan, review of Home to Big Stone Gap.