Big Stone Gap

Adriana Trigiani’s best-seller now a movie.

Ashley Judd in Big Stone Gap.

“This will be a good weekend for reading,” says Ave Maria, town pharmacist and self-proclaimed spinster, in the opening lines of Big Stone Gap, the best-selling 2001 novel by Adriana Trigiani.

Certainly that statement resonated with readers, but now, it might need to be slightly amended—Big Stone Gap makes its silver screen debut Oct. 9, starring Ashley Judd as Ave Maria, Patrick Wilson as love interest Jack MacChesney (“Jack Mac” to fans), Jenna Elfman as friend Iva Lou, and Whoopi Goldberg as the witty Fleeta Mullins.

Trigiani, who grew up in Big Stone Gap among the mountains of Wise County, originally wrote the story as a screenplay in 1998, releasing it as a novel in 2001. She directed the new film adaptation of the novel (the first of her 15 best-sellers), which was filmed on location in Big Stone Gap in fall 2013. (“We didn’t build any sets. It’s all real!” she says.)

The author’s hometown knowledge was important: Trigiani says that often her own childhood memories or the suggestions of local friends informed decisions about filming locations that would best show off the Appalachian sunlight and fall foliage. At every turn, Trigiani says filming in the town she grew up in meant calling a friend and saying things like, “Oh we don’t have dogs, can you bring your dog over?” While the movie premieres nationwide in early October, it was first shown to the public at the 2014 Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.

“Growing up there was the greatest benefit of all,” says Trigiani, “because I look at [Big Stone Gap] like it’s magical. I believe it’s magical. And if you believe it as the director, then it shall be shown on camera.” AdrianaTrigiani.com

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