Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: The Shoemaker's Wife

'The Shoemaker's Wife'
Author: Adriana Trigiani


Format: ARC
Published: Harper; Apr. 2012
Pages: 496
Genre: Historical fiction
Grade: A
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 bookDon'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! :)

20 comments:

  1. Wasn't it great?! I've read all her books - except for Don't Sing At The Table. I need to find that. I love her novels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it was FAB! If you love your grandma's, you'll love Don't Sing At the Table! It just makes you appreciate them even more :)

      Delete
  2. I really want to read this one. I haven't tried any of her books before. I need to change this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know why I fell out of the habit of reading Trigiani's books, but clearly I need to start up again. This sounds fabulous! I loved 'Queen of the Big Time,' also historical fiction about Italian immigrants, so if you're looking to read more of her fiction you might try that one. Truthfully, though, I haven't read anything by her that I haven't liked - thanks for reminding me that I feel that way! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like I need to read Queen of the Big Time! Thanks for the recommendation :)

      Delete
  4. I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I've added it to my to read list. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thought this book was fantastic! I thought of my own grandparents as I read of Enza and Ciro.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have still never read any of her work and I really need to, including this one!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can never really figure out what on earth she is doing on that cover..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I was to make a guess about the cover it would be when Enza was working at the Met as a set designer.

      Delete
  8. It's funny you mentioned how long it is, because I'm more inclined to pick up a big book than a short one. :) I love that readers are all different, and I never tire of discussing these things!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once I started reading it, I was so into it the length certainly didn't deter me!

      Delete
  9. I was surprised at how long it was when it arrived of my doorstep too. Although, I ended up loving it for its lengths. It allowed the story to be so large and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know this will sound absolutely awful, but I really tend to avoid books with the word WIFE in the title.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You sure make this one sound good! I've enjoyed her books in the past, but I haven't loved them. I've heard this one is somewhat of a departure, so I am intrigued by it. I'm glad to hear even though its long it was so enjoyable!

    ReplyDelete
  12. i've heard so much about Trigiani's writing, but i haven't had the time to read any of her books. this one sounds fantastic though! and i love that both stories kept you interested. normally when theres two storylines, i usually find myself liking one more than the other, but that's great that you liked both.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Now I'm adding Don't Sing at the Table as well as Queen of the Big Time to my TBR :) This was my first Trigiani and I can't believe I waited this long to give her a try. The size intimidated me at first, but by 100 pages in, I couldn't read fast enough! :) A beautiful story.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was super pumped to get this in the mail yesterday! My tour isn't until mid-September, but can't wait to read it after seeing your review!!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by Amused By Books and taking the time to comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...