Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani


There are no words to accurately describe just how much I loved this novel, but I must try. It's just so beautiful!  

Adriana Trigiani pours her heart and soul into every book she writes, but never has this been more apparent than with The Shoemaker's Wife.  It's a gift of love from a granddaughter, as this is the fictionalized story of Adriana's grandparents, a shoemaker and the love of his life. 

The book is broken into three parts - Italy, Manhattan, and Minnesota. Beginning in the Italian Alps in 1905, Enza and Ciro were from the same mountain, but living very different lives. Ciro and his brother were left in a convent by their ill mother after their father failed to return from America. Enza lived with her large family, where she was the eldest of the children, which means taking on much of the family responsibilities.  Both strong-willed and hardworking, Ciro and Enza meet for the first, but not last, time. 

Love at first sight.

Necessity, and hard times, brought each of them to America. Ciro became a shoemaker's apprentice, while Enza worked in a factory in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Not knowing where the other one was, their paths would cross again unexpectedly.

Each phase of their lives brings them near to each other, often without even touching, but so close!  There were so many near-misses, it's hard to think about how differently the story would have ended had they missed one another just one of those times.

There were scenes, especially early on in the book where Ciro and Enza are still in Italy, I felt like I was there.  I could smell the flowers, hear the water, taste the food (Oh my goodness, do her books make me hungry!!). Adriana Trigiani has a way of bringing her readers into a scene, without ever losing our attention.  She invites us in, not as a spectator, but as a participant. 

I love Adriana's writing. Here are a few of the lines that stood out to me:

"A man who needs a mirror is looking for something." 

"Sometimes we get our hearts broken, only to have the right person come along to mend them." - Sister Teresa

"It's in the things we lose that we discover what we most treasure."

"I am out of my league. I am in over my head. And I am completely besotted. Trust me, when he meets my family and finds out we brew our own beer, he'll never ask me out again." - Laura 

I have this habit of falling in love with fictional characters, but my love for Ciro, Enza, Eduardo, Laura, Sister Teresa, and Enrico Caruso is the kind one reserves for family.  There is such warmth in this novel, readers cannot help but notice it was a labour of love. 

I find the women in Adrianna's family - both those real and fictional -  remarkably ahead of their time.  Yes, they were hardworking, but there was a fire in their bellies, one of independence and strength, that would put many 21st century women to shame. I read The Shoemaker's Wife after reading Adriana Trigiani's Don't Sing at the Table, which was a tribute to her grandmothers, so I already felt like I knew Enza/Lucia. 

I have read some wonderful novels in recent years, but The Shoemaker's Wife is something really special. 

I laughed, I cried, and then I promptly told everyone I met on the street to read it. 

Now, I must go make some gnocchi with butter and sage...mi scusi.

Book Extras:
Adriana Trigiani Website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr

About the Book:
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061257109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061257100

About the Author:
Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. Adriana was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. She chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed bestseller Big Stone Gap. The heartwarming story continues in the novel's sequels Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. Stand-alone novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo, all topped the bestseller lists, as did Trigiani's 2009 Very Valentine and its 2010 sequel Brava, Valentine.

Alison and Adriana at Harper Lunch 2011

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