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The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Adriana Trigiani

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1,228806,481 (3.89)23
Title:The Shoemaker's Wife
Authors:Adriana Trigiani
Info:Harper (2012), Kindle Edition, 494 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:rural northern Italy, family, beauty, New York's Little Italy, Metropolitan opera, friendship, romance, immigrants, Minnesota, sewing, shoemaking

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The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani (2012)

  1. 00
    Vita by Melania G. Mazzucco (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These lavish, richly detailed historical sagas follow the lives of young Italian immigrants -- in both cases, childhood sweethearts separated by circumstances beyond their control -- as they build separate, yet frequently intertwining, new lives in early 20th-century America.… (more)

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I couldn't feel for these characters too much - it dragged on too long, and ended with a sudden abrupt ending. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
This is the first time that I have ever read anything by Adriana Trigiani and it will not be the last, I hope. Her Shoemaker's Wife is loosely based on stories from her family, mostly from a few year before World War I and ending after World War II. I don't mind any minor historical or geographical mistakes. Those errors exist in my own family tales. What is more important is learning what is valued the most in the family. In this case, love of family and beauty which includes favorite family foods, memories and any feelings are repeated through out their lives.

The main characters, Ciro Lazzazi and his older brother experience the loss of their father far away in United States in a mining accident and later their mother left when she decided that she could no longer take care of them. She had sold all the furniture, most of her jewelry after his husband's death, she had no marketable skills and reluctantly left them at a convent. The nuns took good care of them and they both grew up to be responsible young men who deeply cared for each other. The older brother leaned toward a learned and religious life while, Ciro, the younger was so hurt about being abandoned wanted to be independent and put in an honest day's work.

Enza was the oldest daughter in her family so she tended to be a second mother to her siblings. She was deeply heartbroken when her sister died. Strangely the Enza and Ciro first met when her sister had died and was to be buried. From then on, they keep meeting and are separated. It is like fate is throwing them together. Each of them provides something deeply needed from the other.

At first, I thought the story moved rather slowly but as story after story built the fabric of a detailed picture of the couple's life with and without each other, I became more and more attached to the two two characters. I can even picture my relatives in similar roles. I love the expression of famiy in this book and it helped me understand more of what my own father when through when he grew up when his father deserted his family. I think this book is very special and I hope that more people will read it. ( )
  Carolee888 | Apr 30, 2017 |
This book is a comforting fantasy in our post-modern liquid reality because the characters in the book have shaped their own lives, as opposed to today, where everybody is in high anxiety mode. The book is too long, there are many excesses of descriptions, and the author seems to have a fixation with body height, slim figures and long fingers. Some of the most anticipated parts are terribly anti-climactic, for example when Ciro and Enza finally decided to give their relationship a chance and when Ciro meets his mother. I thought Antonio marrying Angela was implausible and the plot badly constructed. In fact, the new generation is brushed over as if the writer has run out of steam. Also, Enza and Ciro wonderful skills as seamstress and shoemaker, respectively, never really evolve after they get married. Some of the dialogues and “coincidences” are poor, the wars are not given their true dimension, would someone in their mid-thirties be considered old in the early 1930’s …
Yet, despite the shortcomings, I read the whole book, my first from the author, and thought there were some moving and beautiful passages. ( )
  Acia | Apr 14, 2017 |
LOVE LOVE LOVE! Sad and sweet at the same time. The parts about the opera were fascinating. ( )
  kemilyh1988 | Jan 16, 2017 |
It was interesting, and I noted a few passage for the upcoming book club discussion. But I did not fall in love with the book.

I felt like the title of the book acted as kind of a spoiler, so there wasn't much surprise when Ciro showed up a the last possible minute to keep Enza from marrying the wrong guy. In fact, the only surprise in the book was when Enza insisted that Ciro go back to Italy.

I thought that I was adding to my vocabulary and/or my knowledge of Italian phrases. My dictionary didn't recognize anything but the mineral found with the iron ore. Google didn't recognize some other words, and the ones it did recognize were considered slang - not just from Italian, but also from Yiddish. Joices is apparently an alternate spelling of joists, which was what I suspected from context. Spellcheck still doesn't like it.

I will probably resell of recycle the book after our book club meeting. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |
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In Memory of Monsignor Don Andrea Spada
Who Loved the Mountain
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061257095, Hardcover)

Kathryn Stockett Interviews Adriana Trigiani

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. The Help is her first novel.

Kathryn Stockett: This is by far your most epic novel to date. How long did it take you to write The Shoemaker’s Wife?

Adriana Trigiani: I worked on this story for over 20 years as I wrote scripts and novels and had my own family. There are scraps of paper, dinner napkins, and bills with timelines and notes scrawled across them. There are old notebooks filled with my grandmother’s musings from 1985. I collected train tickets, copies of ships’ manifests, and a silk tag with my grandmother’s name from garments she had created. I traveled as far as the Italian Alps and as close as the few blocks it takes me to walk to Little Italy in New York City to capture the historical aspects of the story. All of this went into the novel. It was a delicious gestation period.

Stockett: This is a novel, but it is inspired by a true story—a family story, right?

Trigiani: Yes—my grandparents, Lucia and Carlo. Their love was a dance with fate. It is riddled with near misses against a landscape of such massive world events that it’s a wonder they got together at all. My challenge was to present their world to the reader so it might feel it was happening in the moment. I wanted the reader to have the experience I had when stories were told to me by the woman who lived them.

Stockett: The novel takes place during the first half of the twentieth century--what is so compelling about this period of time to you?

Trigiani: The cusp of the twentieth century was a time everything was new—cars, phones, planes, electricity, even sportswear, and in each innovation was a kind of explosive potential. No one could predict where all the inventions would lead, people only knew that change was unavoidable.

My grandparents were delighted every time America presented them with something they had never seen before. And my grandparents’ sense of wonder never left them, so I tried not to let it leave the page, be it a cross-country train ride or the first snap of the bobbin on an electric Singer sewing machine.

Stockett: Through the remarkable story of Enza and Ciro, your novel tells the larger story of the immigrant experience in America.

Trigiani: What a gift immigrants were and are to this country! They bring their talents and loyalty and make our country even greater. My grandparents were proud to be new Americans. Assimilation was not about copying an American ideal, but aspiring to their own version of it. The highest compliment you could pay a fellow immigrant was: he (or she) was a hard worker. I hear the phrase work like an immigrant said, but really, it’s bigger than that—we must also dream like immigrants.

Stockett: The Shoemaker’s Wife seamlessly brings together fictional characters and historical figures—how did the wonderful Caruso enter the novel?

Trigiani: It started with a three-foot stack of vinyl records—my grandmother Lucia’s collection of Caruso. Her absolute devotion to The Great Voice lasted her whole life long. I knew, in order to write this novel, I had to fall in love with Caruso too, because he sang the score of my grandparents’ love affair.

When Lucia passed, I went to my first opera, seeking understanding and comfort. As the music washed over me, I began to understand why my grandmother was such a fan. The words were Italian, and the emotions were big; nothing was left unexpressed in the music. If only life were that way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting for the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. 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. Set during the years preceding and during World War I.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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