The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani was recommended to me by one of my "choir sisters" - Alice was my roommate on our trip to NYC last June and she was engrossed in this book on her I-pad for the long busride. She kept telling me how good it was, so I added it to my "Must Read' list as soon as I got home. (I have an ongoing list - do you?)
Trigiani is a new author to me. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker as well as penning a best-selling memoir on top of her fiction and young adult fiction. Where have I been - how had I not heard of her before? I thoroughly enjoyed The Shoemaker's Wife so I will be looking for more of her work when I am at the library!
I would categorize this story as historical fiction with a good bit of romance thrown in; a powerful story of strength and determination, love, the importance of family and the immigrant experience. It begins in the northern Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century. Life is difficult and money is scarce; the recently widowed Caterina Lazzari sees no other option but to leave her two young sons at the local convent as she knows she can no longer provide for them. Within the first few chapters the reader is captivated with the life of these two young boys Eduardo and Ciro, being raised by nuns who adore them. Their story is paralleled by that of the Ravanelli family of a neighbouring village who are also struggling to make ends meet. The death of their youngest brings Ciro and Enza Ravanelli together in a chance meeting as Ciro is sent to dig the grave. It is a meeting that neither forgets. Life takes a turn for both families and without knowing about each other, both Ciro and Enza emigrate to America to make a better life. I don't want to divulge any more of the story, but suffice it to say they both go on to "find opportunities" in Little Italy (in NYC) through hard work and perseverance. Will they find each other? Will they build a better life together in America? You'll have to read the book to find out...
I enjoyed Trigiani's writing. Her characters are well developed and three dimensional, her descriptions are detailed. I know some readers do not like a lot of description, but I do (when it is well done). The importance of family was an underlying theme throughout the book. Ciro longs for a family re-connection with his mother who he feels "abandoned" him, and his older brother who he dearly loves and misses. Enza dutifully works for years, sending money home to her family in Italy to help them build a home. Yes, this is the main theme/lesson/message... the importance of family. I like that.
Bookworms will rule the world... as soon as we read one more chapter.