TLC Book Tours: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Source: Copy provided by publisher for TLC Book Tours.
The Shoemaker's Wife is the first book I've read by Adriana Trigiani. I must admit that I had always (unfairly) dismissed her work as nothing but chick lit romance, but the opportunity to read this one came up, so I decided to give it a shot. When this monster tome arrived in my mailbox, I was a little taken aback. Investing time into a nearly 500 page novel from an author I have never read is a little daunting. However, once through the first 50 pages I knew I had made the right choice in accepting it for review.
Now, normally I like to provide my own summary of a book in my reviews. However, after multiple attempts I realized that I just wasn't going to be able to condense this vast story into a paragraph or two that would do such a beautiful tale justice. So in this case I'm going to use part of the copy provided by the publisher.
The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of 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. At the turn of the last century, 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, they 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, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
The Shoemaker's Wife was a wonderful read from beginning to end. At first I was afraid that the length of the book would be its downfall, but Trigiani masterfully keeps the story from dragging. I found myself easily consuming huge chunks at a time after being so drawn into Ciro and Enza's worlds. The writing was beautiful and polished, and Trigiani seems quite comfortable in her ability to tell such a grand story. There was a nice balance between description and action that kept the flow of the story easy to read. The last 50 pages felt a little rushed, but I think that's just because I wanted the story to continue on. I've read very few novels of this length that are able to achieve this feat.
The aspect of The Shoemaker's Wife that I enjoyed most was that there were two separate story lines, but both were equally developed. I can't say I preferred one character's story more than the other. This is not just a love story between two fated individuals. This is a story of two immigrants trying to make their own way and discover who they are as adults. Many authors don't allow their characters to reach the selfactualization that these two were able to achieve. Trigiani made a smart decision in allowing both Ciro and Enza the opportunity to figure out their own lives and grow as people before coming together as a couple, and this is why the story succeeded in being more than just a typical romance.
On top of the excellent plot, I actually cared about these people, from the main characters to all the secondary characters that come and go along the way. Each had a distinct personality and thoughtful characterization, and I found myself becoming sympathetic to their individual plights. From Italy to Manhattan to Minnesota, the reader is able to see Enza and Ciro grow from children to adults and watches as the two continually find themselves weaving into part of each other's lives.
Overall, The Shoemaker's Wife was so much more than I expected. This is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of family, friendship, epic love and the ups and downs of life as an immigrant. More than those things, this is a novel that illustrates the strength of the human spirit. Enza and Ciro are inspirational in their fight against adversity. They never completely give up while trying their best to work hard and achieve their place in life. This story reminded me that America is, at its core, a country of immigrants who struggled to make a better life for themselves and their families. I can't say enough good things about this sweeping tale. Don't be put off by the length as this is an engrossing and easy read. I definitely recommend reading it if you get the chance!
About Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo, she has also written the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. Her books have been published in thirty-six countries, and she has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Check out Adriana's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter!
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