I've often reviewed Adriana Trigiani's books. Her stories of Italian Americans have always featured strong women. Beginning with Big Stone Gap, she's written about families and communities. She's vividly painted landscapes, in loving detail as she described mountain towns and New York City. Now, she's brought all those elements together in the epic story she was meant to write, The Shoemaker's Wife, loosely based on her grandparents' lives.
In 1905, when Ciro Lazzari was ten and his beloved brother Eduardo was eleven, their father died in the mines of Minnesota. Left alone as a widow with two sons, Ciro's mother couldn't handle life in the Italian Alps, so she left her sons at a convent, promising to come back when she could. But, Ciro grew up there, educated by the nuns and his brother, a lonely boy, but a boy who learned to appreciate the beauty in the world while longing for love.
In a small village nearby, Enza Ravenelli grew up as the beloved oldest daughter in a poor working class family. Family meant everything to her. Enza was fifteen when her beloved younger sister died. After her sister's funeral, Enza returned to the cemetery, where she met a young man her own age who had been sent to dig the grave. She willingly kissed Ciro Lazzari, hoping he would return to see her. But, it would be years, and a continent away before the two would meet again.
Circumstances sent both Ciro and Enza to New York, where they ran into each other again in a hospital. And, their lives seemed to have a pattern. They both thrived in their new country, Enza as a seamstress and Ciro as a shoemaker, but their timing was always wrong. Time after time, they missed the opportunity to spend more than an hour or two together. When World War I comes, it provided one more opportunity for the two young people to lose each other.
One paragraph in The Shoemaker's Wife stands out for me. It's a paragraph about Ciro, at a time when he had no idea Enza would become a seamstress. "He figured that all the threads of his experience would eventually be sewn together, taking shape in harmony and form to create a glorious work of art. But who would sew those pieces together? Who would make him whole?"
Trigiani's story of two lonely people, both yearning for love and family, is a story that spans decades and history, as any epic novel should. It's rich in detail, and rich in the Italian and Italian American experience. It's a novel full of color and music. Best of all, The Shoemaker's Wife is full of life and love.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
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1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book
Book: 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book Author: Dianne Moritz Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell Pages: 36 Age Range: 3-6 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea is a nice lit...
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.