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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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1,073727,788 (3.86)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

Work details

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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The Shoemaker’s Wife – Trigani

4 stars

Before he became a shoemaker, Ciro Augustus Lazarri was the younger of two brothers, left in the care of the nuns of San Nicola by their widowed mother. Long before she became the shoemaker’s wife, Enza Ravenelli was the oldest of six children in the family of Schilpario’s coachman. They were two hard working children, making their way in the poverty of the Italian Alps during the early years of the twentieth century.The Shoemaker’s Wife is not just a love story of these two characters. It is a family saga. The book traces the unique immigrant experiences of these two individuals as they overlap, diverge and finally coalesce to create a new beginning is America.

This book is full of likable characters and rich settings. As Ciro learns his shoemaking trade in Manhattan, he also charms the young women of Little Italy. Enza finds work in Hoboken’s garment district until she makes a daring move to Manhattan, where she builds an exciting career sewing for the Metropolitan Opera. Their paths cross. World War One changes their plans once again. Both characters experience a great many hardships and set-backs, but it is always clear that they will be together. Some parts of the story move slowly, but it remains a pleasant reading experience to the very end.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Enjoyable, read almost like a family memoir. The audio ending with the author talking about how this book has its roots in her family history was very interesting. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
The book moved slow for the most part, and then jumped years suddenly. The last couple of chapters were incredibly sad- I shed some tears. Overall, it was a good story, but a bit verbose. Another reviewer called it, "a little predictable and contrived", and I would agree with that. ( )
  cobygirl517 | Mar 14, 2016 |
A beautifully moving and poignant story with characters you truly care about and strikingly painted settings. ( )
  SaraNoH | Feb 9, 2016 |
This book reminded me a lot of Love in the Time of Cholera, though thank goodness Enza and Ciro didn't have to wait until they were old to be together. I saw splashes of Sister Carrie in this book as well, though the characters in this novel are much more likable.

But do you want to know why I loved this book? Because it's about life. Sometimes it is short and tragic, but it's also beautiful and wonderful. I can just see the feminists out there grinding their teeth because Enza chooses love/marriage over her own exciting and promising career, but Enza understood what was important: family. It was so refreshing to read a novel with "old fashioned" values at the core of it.

Trigiani does an amazing job describing each setting. Now, more than ever, I want to go to Italy. And I'm also very grateful to have been born in a country that gives people opportunity and hope. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 8, 2016 |
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In Memory of Monsignor Don Andrea Spada
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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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