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Queen of the Big Time
Queen of the Big Time - Adriana Trigiani
Member Name: brittle1906
Queen of the Big Time - Adriana Trigiani
Advantages: A heart-warming read and a look at Italian family life.
Disadvantages: None in my opinion
Review of 'Queen of The Big Time', a novel by Adriana Trigiani.
I am reviewing the hardback version of this novel, published by Simon & Schuster Ltd, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0743239288, jacket price £8.99. Genre:- modern fiction/family saga.
Available from www.amazon.co.uk for £5.49 new or from 0.01p used.
Set in rural Pennsylvania, this novel covers the period 1924-1971.
We first meet Nella Castelluca as a 14 year old girl, she is the middle child in the family of five daughters. The Castelluca family are originally from the Bari region of Italy and they live in Roseta, a small town that has sprung up around the mines of the area. The residents of Roseta are mainly Italian or Welsh.
The Castellucas run a small farm around three miles outside of the town. All the family chip in with the farm work, although Papa Castelluca occasionally works in the mines to supplement his family's income.
Nella is a bright girl, her teacher persuades her parents to allow her to continue her education at the senior school in Roseta when she reaches 14 and to Nella's surprise and delight, her parents agree. Nella yearns to live in the town and to take part in the 'Big Time' parade, an annual festival organised by the local Catholic church. A Queen is chosen each year and although Nella knows that she is no great beauty, she would like the opportunity to run for Queen. She is horrified when she finds out that the girl who sells the most charity tickets is crowned Queen, and that the role has nothing to do with personality, looks or devotion to religion.
Nella takes her place at the senior school and is a very promising student, she makes friends with other Italian girls and although she has to walk three miles each way to school everyday, she loves her schooling and hopes to become a teacher.
At 14, Nella also meets the handsome, worldly, irresistible Renato Lanzara and she believes she has found the love of her life, even though he is some 7 years older than her.
When tragedy strikes the Castelluca family, Nella's life alters overnight, her childhood is over and her life takes on a totally different perspective to that which she had imagined.
The storyline then continues through Nella's life with many a twist and turn, until her death in 1971.
==About the Author==
Adriana Trigiani was raised in a small coal-mining town in South west Virginia in a big Italian family. It is clear that she has drawn on her own family background in Queen of The Big Time.
A talented lady, after graduating from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, she moved to New York to become a playwright. Whilst in New York, she founded an all-female comedy troupe called "The Outcasts," which performed on the cabaret circuit for seven years. Adriana has also worked in television, among her many television credits, she was a writer/producer on The Cosby Show, A Different World, and executive producer/head writer for City Kids for Jim Henson Productions. Her Lifetime television special, Growing up Funny, garnered an Emmy nomination for Lily Tomlin.
Now a novelist, Adriana is married to Tim Stephenson and they live in Greenwich Village with their daughter, Lucia.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
I had read one of this author's novels before and enjoyed it, so was hopeful of a good read when I started 'Queen of The Big Time'. I was not to be disappointed as in my opinion, this novel was even better than 'the Big Stone Gap', the other Adriana Trigiani book I had read.
The storyline is fairly fast paced as the author guides us through the realities of Italian immigrants settling in the USA in the first half of the last century. The Italian families stuck together and re-created the exact environment they had come from Italy. As an example, neighbours from Italy would become neighbours in America.
The research that went into this novel must have been phenomenal and the author's own background has played an major part in this, as she explains in the acknowledgements section of the book.
The characters within this novel are so very well drawn that I was pulled into the plot within the first few pages. Nella is a strong woman, a woman of principle, who is as determined in her middle age as she was as a girl. She is a likeable central character and one that I warmed to. Nella's parents are also very central to the story and Papa Castelluca in particular is very well described. His pride in his girls and his love of the land are obvious. He and his wife are still very much Italians, even after decades of American citizenship.
The plot is a simple one in many ways, but there are enough twists in the tale to hold the readers interest. In Queen of The Big Time, the author has created a beautiful tale of family life, romance, hardship and tragedy all bound up with a believable cast of characters. The writing is crisp and the dialogue is very good. I enjoyed reading this novel, it is definitely an easy read, the sort of book that is ideal to while away a wet afternoon with!
The novel has a little of everything, just as real life does . It has the kind of successes, disappointments, sadnesses and joys that most of us experience throughout life. I particularly enjoyed learning about the lifestyle of immigrants entering the USA in the last century, and felt this made for a very readable and interesting book, one I would certainly recommend to others.
I am awarding this novel a 5* rating.
Thank you for reading.
İbrittle1906 March 2011
N.B. My review may appear on other sites under the same user name.
Summary: An excellent novel with strong characters.