Lush and passionate are words that could be used to describe other Adriana Trigiani novels, and, her latest, Very Valentine, is no exception.
However, I don't mean sexually passionate when I say that. Valentine Roncalli is a shoemaker, learning to be a craftsman under the auspices of her grandmother, a master. At thirty-three, Valentine lives above the shop with her grandmother. The sign says, Angelina Shoes, Greenwich Village, since 1903, and, if Valentine has her way, the art of designing, and handmaking wedding shoes will go on for years.
Valentine's personal life leaves something to be desired until the night of her sister's wedding when a chef/restaurant owner, Roman Falconi, sees her on her rooftop garden, naked. Roman introduces himself, and the two Italian-Americans struggle to find time for themselves, despite their busy careers.
But, Valentine's biggest struggle is to keep the family business and her home, despite mortgage problems, and her brother's push to sell the valuable property. A contest to design the perfect shoe for Bergdorf Goodman might help Valentine in her struggle. Valentine's father told her that she's a person who has to work hard for everything. In the course of the book, Valentine discovers her passion for the art of shoemaking, and she glories in the discovery of the perfect materials and design. Is she going to be able to hold on to both a lover and a career?
This first book in a proposed trilogy is rich in detail about the art of making shoes. Trigiani is a master of describing volatile Italian-American families, and their passion for life. Her characters are always larger than life people readers wish they knew. Valentine, her family and friends fit that description. And, as in her previous novels, such as Big Stone Gap, she vividly describes the settings, from Greenwich Village to Little Italy to Capri.
In Very Valentine, Adriana Trigini creates a woman, a family, and a world that spring to life from the printed page. It's a shame we have to wait for the next book to learn what happens to Valentine.
Adriana Trigiani's website is adrianatrigiani.com
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani. HarperCollins, ©2009. ISBN 9780061257056 (hardcover), 384p.