Sunday, May 06, 2012

Review: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

First line: The scalloped hem of Caterina Lazzari's blue velvet coat grazed the fresh-fallen snow, leaving a pale pink path on the bricks as she walked across the empty piazza.

From the inside cover: The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps  at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza and Ciro, who meet as teenagers despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. But when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, the two young people both build fledgling lives in America. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy to the vast plains of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved this book. I loved it so much that I didn't want it to end and once I got to the last 150 pages, I purposely kept putting it down so as not to get to the last page too quickly. I have been of fan of Adriana Trigiani since reading the first two books in her Valentine series, Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine. Since then I have slowly been making my way through her novels.

The Shoemaker's Wife is a tale of immigration, love, and finding your life. The novel spans three decades, from the 1910s to the end of World War II. It takes us from the Italian Alps to New York City and the Metropolitan Opera to Minnesota. The story is of Ciro and Enza, two young immigrants from the same small town in the Italian Alps. Both  end up immigrating to New York under duress, not too long after their initial meeting in Italy. After a chance encounter in New York, the two must decide if their future lies together or apart. Their story starts off as a series of near-misses, the result of bad luck and poor timing. Will they ever both be at the right place in their life at the same time?

This book is full of rich descriptions so it’s easy to picture the world Enza and Ciro live in. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking what it must be like to live when things were so different - rent was $3 a month, wages were $.50 - $1.00 a day, a cup of coffee costs $.05. I loved when my grandmother and great aunts used to talk about the old days when life was so simple. If only it were that simple today!

I got this book from the library, but wish I had bought it instead - it is definitely a book I can see myself rereading in the future and the cover is magnificent! Do you have books that after reading them wish you had bought instead of borrowed? Or how about the reverse - borrowed instead of bought?

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

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7 comments

  1. This is one of my most anticipated reads/listens. There are many books that came into my possession because I borrowed them from the library and loved them so much. Thankfully, not too many the other way around.

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    1. It's so good...one of my favorite reads so far this year!

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  2. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! I keep on reading so many great reviews on it ... hopefully I can get to it sometime in the month of May!

    And I have several books that I've borrowed but wish that I had purchased them instead. The latest one was The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach ... such a good book, and I was kicking myself for not buying it!

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    1. It's amazing!!!

      I haven't heard of The Act of Fielding - will have to look into it.

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  3. Gotta read this - sounds right up my alley!xx

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  4. I really enjoyed this novel, the first I head read by Trigiani. My understanding is that her novels are normally romances, but I felt like this novel was more like good historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in. From the Italian Alps to the street of Little Italy to the trenches of France during World War I, this novel covers a lot and Trigiani does a great job of taking her reader along on her characters adventures. For me the characters felt genuine and I liked them, always something that helps me connect to a novel. My only real complaint with this enjoyable page turner was that although the novel is long (at nearly 400 pages) the author's pacing is uneven. She spends a lot of time in certain parts of the story, and very little in others.

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