Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet Grandmothers of Mine

'Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers'
Author: Adriana Trigiani

Format: ARC
Published: Harper; Nov. 2010
Pages: 224
Genre: Memoir; Family
Rating: B
Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Fans of novelist Trigiani will be delighted with this guided tour through the author's family history via her grandmothers, Lucia and Viola. She lovingly details the women's lives and recounts the lessons she's learned while offering a fascinating look at U.S. history from the perspective of her Italian-American forebears. Both Lucia and Viola worked hard from an early age, cooking and cleaning among any number of chores, and parlayed their work ethic and expertise into strong careers. Viola started out as a machine operator and, later, co-owned a mill with her husband, while Lucia worked in a factory and then became a seamstress and storefront couturier. Her grandmothers also took pride in passing along wisdom to others; throughout her life, Trigiani benefited from their guidance regarding everything from marriage to money, creativity to religion. She credits them with telling good stories: "I mimicked their work ethic imagining myself in a factory, layering words like tasks until the work was done. I took away more than life lessons from their stories; I made a career out of it." Here, Trigiani combines family and American history, reflections on lives well-lived, and sound advice to excellent effect, as a legacy to her daughter and a remembrance of two inimitable women. 

My Take: Trigiani is one of those authors I can't believe I've never read before. She has a huge back catalog of much-loved books. Friends have been recommending her to me for years. I even have some of her books on my shelves and yet, for some reason I always pass them by for something else. I never know why. I am sure many of you have an author similar to this on your own shelves or in your own mind. However, I can no longer say that about Trigiani and I am really glad about that because boy did this book make me smile!

Coming off the holidays in which I got to spend it with one of my own grandma's who are near and dear to my heart, reading Trigiani's ode to her grandmother's and their wisdom could not help a woman smile. If you are close with your family or long to be closer this is a memoir you don't want to miss. I know, I know, why would you want to read about someone else's grandmother's? Well, because a little girls relationship with her grandmothers appears to be something that is relatively universal and if you ever need something akin to the literary version of a warm cup of cocoa than this is it!

First of all, this book is filled with all the kinds of wisdom that grandmothers impart on you or maybe you wish yours had. Trigiani's grandmothers, Lucia and Viola were both immigrants from Italy and had some amazing advice and skills to pass down to their beloved granddaughter. They were amazing women who lived fascinating lives. If you are interested at all in women's lives in the first half of the 20th Century then this book is also a must read! Both of these women worked to help support their families and were definitely great role models for their family. The wisdom they bestowed on their families was inspirational. You can see the love for which Trigiani has written this delightful little novel and you could spend a very happy afternoon reading this book.

I am blessed to still have both of grandmothers with me, and as an added bonus a step grandmother; and while none of them live near me, this book helped me remember not to take the time I have with them for granted. I talk to them often and know that while they are all very different from each other that's what makes them such a wonderful part of my life and have all had a little piece of shaping me! I love that this book helped give me some pause in my life to remember that.

Cover Lust: I really love this cover! It kind of reminds of me of a quilt or an old-fashioned print!


  1. I bet this book made you want to hug your grandmothers! I just loved this book! If you've never read any of Trigiani's backlist, you must read Lucia, Lucia - it's my favorite.

  2. Oh, I can't wait to read this one. I just love her and I'm with Kathy you just have to read Lucia, Lucia it's just the best.

  3. I must read more Trigiani, I have only read 2 books by her so far but they were both lovely

  4. I have read this author before and love the way she writes. What a sweet review you wrote...grandmother's are very special.

  5. I have this one on audiobook and plan on listening to it soon. I had not heard of her before she was spotlighted on Audible and I picked this one up!

  6. I just joined the Italy in Reading Challenge - Trigiani's books are going to fit nicely! I haven't read any of her books yet, so I cannot wait to get started :)

  7. I've enjoyed the Trigiani books I've read, and her Very Valentine series especially is filled with the story of a granddaughter/grandmother relationship. I'm glad you discovered her!

  8. i haven't read anything by trigiani either! but that's going to have to change soon. this book sounds amazing!!!

  9. I've read only one book by Trigiani.
    this book sounds good, my mothers mom expired when she was very young and I am not close to my dad's mother, so there is all the more reason I should read this :)

    Thanks for the review.

  10. Found this on the Memorable Memoirs challenge page -- glad you found one that you enjoyed so much!

  11. Sounds like a winner. A lady in my book club has been urging me to read this author for quite some time now. I guess I better get on it!


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