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The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
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The Shoemaker's Wife (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Adriana Trigiani

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1,054677,976 (3.87)23
Member:Carolinejyoung
Title:The Shoemaker's Wife
Authors:Adriana Trigiani
Info:Harper (2012), Kindle Edition, 494 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:None

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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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Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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 |
Great story and well written! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Great story and well written! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
4.5 Stars

Opening in a small village in the Italian Alps in the early 20th century, Adriana Trigiani's The Shoemaker's Wife tells the story of Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli, who meet as teenagers and have an instant connection. That connection, however, is abruptly severed as Ciro is forced to flee to America after discovering the village priest in a compromising situation. As Ciro embraces his new life as a shoemaker's apprentice in New York City, Enza, thinking Ciro was sent to a work house in Rome, is left behind to wonder what might have been. Before long, in an effort to support her family and give them the home they've always longed for, she sets sail for the United States with her father in the hopes of earning her family some much needed money. While her father heads west to secure work for himself, Enza assumes the role of servant in the Hoboken, New Jersey home of the distant cousin who sponsored her arrival in the United States, while also putting her sewing skills to use by working as a seamstress in a garment factory. Enza, however, dreams of a better life and hopes to secure a position as a seamstress in New York City, eventually becoming one with the world famous Metropolitan Opera House. Despite moving in very different circles, Enza and Ciro's paths continue to cross. While they remain drawn to one another, circumstances keep them apart. Just when it seems they are fated to take completely different paths, one that will separate them for good, Enza makes a decision that changes both of their lives.

In Ciro and Enza, Adriana Trigiani has created two remarkably well-drawn, genuinely likeable characters. In fact, I almost instantly fell in love with both them and their stories. The novel's supporting characters, particularly Ciro's brother Eduardo and Enza's best friend Laura Heery, are equally compelling. The strength of this novel rests with Trigiani's lovely descriptive prose, which creates a strong sense of place, whether it be the serenity and beauty of the Italian Alps, the bustle of early 20th century New York City or small town Minnesota in the dead of winter. Trigiani also does an excellent job of capturing the immigrant experience, showing not only how difficult it was for immigrants to uproot from the only homes they have ever known in order to take advantage of the opportunities afforded in a different country, but also to show the hard-earned rewards gained after years of sacrifice and hard-work. This novel brings to life a journey that results in the realization of the American dream. While Trigiani's descriptive prose creates a strong sense of place, it doesn't create a very strong sense of time, particularly in the early part of the novel where, if not for the indication of the year included in the book, I would have been left wondering when the novel is set. This, however, is the only weakness and it does diminish once the setting moves to the United States.

Overall, The Shoemaker's Wife is a beautifully written novel that tells the story of two unforgettable characters. This is book that is sure to appeal to fans all fans of historical fiction. Indeed, this novel has become one of my favourites and and I've recommended it to others. This the first book I've read by Adriana Trigiani but it definitely won't be the last.


Note: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the novel. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 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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