'The Shoemaker's Wife'
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Published: Harper; Apr. 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Synopsis: 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.
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.
My Take: I LOVE historical fiction so when I saw this immense and sweeping novel I knew I had to read it! The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani had everything in it that I am drawn to, so provided the story-line was good, I could forget the ridiculously huge size and just sink into it for the long haul. Oh man was I happy! Having only read one other Adriana Trigiani book, Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers, (click on title for my review) and it being non-fiction I wasn't as familiar with her fiction writing style. Believe me, I will never shy away again!
The story starts way up in the Italian Alps with a mother who has lost her way. She has two young boys: Eduardo and Ciro. Having decided that she has no other option, she leaves them at a convent to be raised by nuns, promising to return yet sadly she never does. We follow these two young boys as they alternately harass the nuns and learn to love them as they find their way in the world as orphans.
Meanwhile, higher up on the mountain we meat Enza. She belongs to a large and loving family, and as the eldest of six with two loving but poor parents she pitches in wherever she can to make sure that everyone has enough, even though she is just a kid. The contrast between Enza and Ciro's lives is stark but when they meet at a rather sad event they find they there is an undeniable spark between them. However, they are inevitably torn apart for years to come.
Then, within a very close timeframe, both Enza and Ciro are shipped to America to start anew, raise money for back home, or whatever it is people had dreams to do at the turn of the 19th century. Will they find each other again in such a large and wild country? Will they survive and thrive in America? Or will their dreams of starting anew be for naught?
What I found fascinating about The Shoemaker's Wife was that there was not one but two stories that I was interested in. While Ciro's and Enza's stories were often interconnected, for much of the book they were entirely separate and I rooted for both of them, ached when they got hurt, and cheered when they had success. As much as I wanted them to get together, there were times when I thought they actually wouldn't be a good match. The love story was modern and old-fashioned at the same time, the period details were fascinating and it made the immigrant experience really come to life. I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction and Adriana Trigiani alike!
For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!
Cover Lust: If you don't think this cover is gorgeous and lush I think you need to check you pulse! :)