When Manda Frank gives birth to an astonishing eleven babies, the world descends on her home town of Three Chimneys, Virginia. Beneath the intense media spotlight the town begins to give up its long-held secrets: from the unrequited love of August Vaughn, the town's avid Thomas Jefferson impersonator, to the more dangerous and subversive passions of Mr March, ...
When Manda Frank gives birth to an astonishing eleven babies, the world descends on her home town of Three Chimneys, Virginia. Beneath the intense media spotlight the town begins to give up its long-held secrets: from the unrequited love of August Vaughn, the town's avid Thomas Jefferson impersonator, to the more dangerous and subversive passions of Mr March, the local history teacher. Meanwhile, cheesemaker Margaret Prickett decides to highlight the plight of the rural community by creating 'The Mammoth Cheese' - a 1,235-pound wheel of Cheshire which she plans to parade all the way to Washington - while failing to notice the plight of her own teenage daughter Polly, who is caught up in the dangerous romance of rebellion, and veering precariously towards tragedy...'This panoramic social novel with a needle-sharp point of view sends up both small-town America and politics. There's mordant social commentary, discussion of Jeffersonian civic ideals and bittersweet romance, plus more than you needed to know about cow midwifery' PEOPLE
Sheri Holman's The Mammoth Cheese is the Mississippi River of novels. It winds along through most of the great themes of American fiction (tradition vs. innovation, the weight of the past, the dehumanizing effects of industrialization, the rifts between parents and children, men and women), picking up bits of history along the way, and carrying you wherever Holman wishes. The opening pages introduce at least 15 characters (not including the 11 premature babies born to dog trainer Manda Frank), a rough outline of the history of Three Chimneys, Virginia, and more information on small-farm cheesemaking than you might ever have thought you'd would want to learn, let alone absorb with fascination. Along with its moving themes, the pleasures of this novel are in Holman's grasp of human (and not only human) nature, and her gift for expressing this through unexpected details of daily life--that the cows in the local dairy give more milk when Sinatra's playing; that the dirty secret under an eighth-grade girl's mattress is Bride Magazine. Her inconspicuous flashes of verbal brilliance may go unnoticed by all but the most observant readers, but they lend sparkle to a complex and ambitious novel.
This big but nimble novel, by the author of the well-received Dress Lodger (2000), is absolutely compelling in its swift satire, yet readers will also respond to its deep sympathies for "well-foibled" individuals. The setting is the little Virginia town of Three Chimneys, which has just experienced a record-setting event: the multiple births of 11 infants to a young, unsophisticated couple artificially helped in their pursuit of fertility. National focus on the little burg is enhanced with the visit of presidential candidate Adams Brooke. One avid supporter of Brooke is local cheese maker Margaret Prickett, whose dairy farm is in financial distress; what Margaret appreciates in Brooke's candidacy is his avid support of the small farmer. But as the weeks go on, and as the babies begin to die, the townspeople, to make themselves look good again, endeavor to take a giant cheese, created by Margaret, to Washington, D.C., to duplicate an act that apparently happened during Thomas Jefferson's presidency. Human nature exposed at its rawest--and most entertaining.