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The Queen of the Big Time: A Novelby Adriana Trigiani
Synopses & Reviews
Known and loved around the world for her sweeping Big Stone Gap trilogy and the instant New York Times bestseller Lucia, Lucia, Adriana Trigiani returns to the charm and drama of small-town life with Queens of the Big Time. This heartfelt story of the limits and power of love chronicles the remarkable lives of the Castellucas, an Italian-American family, over the course of three generations.
In the late 1800s, the residents of a small village in the Bari region of Italy, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, made a mass migration to the promised land of America. They settled in Roseto, Pennsylvania, and re-created their former lives in their new home–down to the very last detail of who lived next door to whom. The village’s annual celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel–or “the Big Time,” as the occasion is called by the young women who compete to be the pageant’s Queen–is the centerpiece of Roseto’s colorful old-world tradition.
The industrious Castellucas farm the land outside Roseto. Nella, the middle daughter of five, aspires to a genteel life “in town,” far from the rigors of farm life, which have taken a toll on her mother and forced her father to take extra work in the slate quarries to make ends meet. But Nella’s dreams of making her own fortune shift when she meets Renato Lanzara, the son of a prominent Roseto family. Renato is a worldly, handsome, devil-may-care poet who has a way with words that makes him irresistible. Their friendship ignites into a fiery romance that Nella is certain will lead to marriage. But Nella is not alone in her pursuit: every girl in town seems to want Renato. When he disappears without explanation, Nella is left with a shattered heart. Four years later, Renato’s sudden return to Roseto the night before Nella’s wedding to the steadfast Franco Zollerano leaves her and the Castelluca family shaken. For although Renato has chosen a path very different from Nella’s, they are fated to live and work in Roseto, where the past hangs over them like a brewing storm.
An epic of small-town life, etched in glorious detail in the trademark Trigiani style, The Queen of the Big Time is the story of a determined, passionate woman who can never forget her first love.
From the Hardcover edition.
Ambitious teen Nella, the daughter of a hard-working family from a small Italian village in Pennsylvania, aspires to live in genteel society far from the rigors of farm life, a dream that is compromised when a poet she loves disappears under scandalous circumstances and then returns just before Nella's marriage to another man. 125,000 first printing.
Today is the day my teacher, Miss Stoddard, comes to see my parents. She sent them a letter telling them she wanted to come to our house to discuss ¿the further education of Nella Castelluca.¿ The letter is official, it was written on a typewriter, signed by my teacher with a fountain pen, dated October 1, 1924, and at the top there¿s a gold stamp that says pennsylvania education authority. We never get fancy mail on the farm, only handwritten letters from our relatives in Italy. Mama is saving the envelope from Miss Stoddard for me in a box where she keeps important papers. Sometimes I ask her to show it to me, and every time I read it, I am thrilled all over again.
I hope my parents decide to let me go to school in Roseto. Delabole School only goes to the seventh grade, and I¿ve repeated it twice just so I can keep learning. Miss Stoddard is going to tell my parents that I should be given the opportunity to go to high school in town because I have ¿great potential.¿
I am the third daughter of five girls, and I have never been singled out for anything. Finally, it feels like it¿s my turn. It¿s as though I¿m in the middle of a wonderful contest: the music has stopped, the blindfolded girl has pointed to me, and I¿ve won the cakewalk. I¿ve hardly slept a wink since the letter arrived. I can¿t. My whole world will change if my parents let me go to school. My older sisters, Assunta and Elena, stopped going to school after the seventh grade. Neither wanted to continue and there is so much work on the farm, it wasn¿t even discussed.
I was helping Mama clean the house to prepare for our company, but she made me go outside because I was making her nervous. She¿s nervous? I don¿t know if I will make it until two o¿clock.
As I lean against the trunk of the old elm at the end of our lane and look up, the late-afternoon sunlight comes through the leaves in little bursts like a star shower, so bright
About the Author
ADRIANA TRIGIANI is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the bestselling Big Stone Gap trilogy and the novel Lucia, Lucia, Trigiani has written the screenplay for the movie Big Stone Gap, which she will also direct. She lives in New York City, with her husband and daughter.
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