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Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition first Printing edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061958948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061958946
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of novelist Trigiani will be delighted with this guided tour through the author's family history via her grandmothers, Lucia and Viola. She lovingly details the women's lives and recounts the lessons she's learned while offering a fascinating look at U.S. history from the perspective of her Italian-American forebears. Both Lucia and Viola worked hard from an early age, cooking and cleaning among any number of chores, and parlayed their work ethic and expertise into strong careers. Viola started out as a machine operator and, later, co-owned a mill with her husband, while Lucia worked in a factory and then became a seamstress and storefront couturier. Her grandmothers also took pride in passing along wisdom to others; throughout her life, Trigiani benefited from their guidance regarding everything from marriage to money, creativity to religion. She credits them with telling good stories: "I mimicked their work ethic imagining myself in a factory, layering words like tasks until the work was done. I took away more than life lessons from their stories; I made a career out of it." Here, Trigiani combines family and American history, reflections on lives well-lived, and sound advice to excellent effect, as a legacy to her daughter and a remembrance of two inimitable women. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It would seem, after reading Trigiani’s Don’t Sing at the Table, that most, if not all, of the well-loved author’s best qualities came directly from observing and knowing her grandmothers. Both hardworking, Italian, and coated head-to-toe in their heritage, vivacious Viola Trigiani and tireless Lucy Bonicelli instilled in their children and, clearly, granddaughter Trigiani many simple, profound, and universal values. These addages Trigiani relays and expounds on in floridly, curlicue thoughts: own your own business; plan on the rainy day; good manners are not negotiable; and, of course, don’t sing at the table (readers will pick up the book just to make sense of that one!). Soothingly and with clarity, the author speaks of eventually losing her grandmothers with the same gratitude as she describes the precious time she spent with them. Readers will find her strength and optimism helpful, and her legions of loyal fans will enjoy learning more about the women who influenced, inspired, and, according to Trigiani, made possible some of her best-selling fiction. --Annie Bostrom

More About the Author

Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. Adriana was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. She chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed bestseller Big Stone Gap. The heartwarming story continues in the novel's sequels Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. Stand-alone novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo, all topped the bestseller lists, as did Trigiani's 2009 Very Valentine and its 2010 sequel Brava, Valentine.

Trigiani teamed up with her family for Cooking with My Sisters, a cookbook coauthored by her sister Mary, with contributions from their sisters and mother. The cookbook-memoir features recipes and stories dating back a hundred years from both sides of their Italian-American family.

Adriana's novels have been translated and sold in more than 35 countries around the world. Trigiani's latest blockbuster Brava, Valentine (Very Valentine's sequel) debuted at number seven on the New York Times bestseller list following its February 2010 debut. Valentine Roncalli juggles her long-distance romance, as she works to better the family's struggling business. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Val from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal.

Trigiani's first young adult novel, Viola in Reel Life--the first in a series--debuted in September 2009. Fans fell in love with fourteen-year-old filmmaker Viola Chesterton, who moves from Brooklyn to a South Bend, Indiana, boarding school. In Spring 2011, readers will delight in Trigiani's follow-up novel Viola in the Spotlight, as Viola and friends spend an adventure-filled summer vacation in Brooklyn.

Readers will take a peek into the lives of the women who shaped Adriana, with her November 2010 nonfiction debut: Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers. The book makes a lovely gift for family (or yourself!), as Trigiani shares a treasure trove of insight and guidance from her two grandmothers: time-tested common sense advice on the most important aspects of a woman's life, from childhood to old age.

Fans everywhere will soon see Adriana's work on the big and small screens! She wrote the screenplay for and will direct the big screen version of her novel Big Stone Gap. Adriana has also written the film adaptations of Lucia, Lucia and Very Valentine--which will be made into a Lifetime Original Movie in 2011!

Critics from the Washington Post to the New York Times to People have described Adriana's novels as "tiramisu for the soul," "sophisticated and wise," and "dazzling." They agree that "her characters are so lively they bounce off the page," and that "...her novels are full bodied and elegantly written."

Trigiani's novels have been chosen for the USA Today Book Club, the Target Bookmarked series, and she's now officially a regular with Barnes & Noble Book Clubs, where she has conducted three online book clubs. Adriana speaks to book clubs from her home three to four nights a week.

Her books are so popular around the world that Lucia, Lucia was selected as the best read of 2004 in England by Richard and Judy.

After graduating from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, Adriana moved to New York City to become a playwright. She founded the all-female comedy troupe "The Outcasts," which performed on the cabaret circuit for seven years. She made her off-Broadway debut at the Manhattan Theatre Club and was produced in regional theatres of note around the country.

Among her many television credits, Adriana was a writer/producer on The Cosby Show, A Different World, and executive producer/head writer for City Kids for Jim Henson Productions. Her Lifetime television special, Growing Up Funny, garnered an Emmy Award nomination for Lily Tomlin. In 1996, she wrote and directed the documentary film Queens of the Big Time. It won the Audience Award at the Hamptons Film Festival and toured the international film festival circuit from Hong Kong to London.

Adriana then wrote a screenplay called Big Stone Gap, which became the novel that began the series. Adriana spent a year and a half waking up at three in the morning to write the novel before going into work on a television show.

Adriana is married to Tim Stephenson, the Emmy Award-winning lighting designer of The Late Show with David Letterman. They live in Greenwich Village with their daughter, Lucia.

Perhaps one popular book critic said it best: "Trigiani defies categorization. She is more than a one-hit wonder, more than a Southern writer, more than a woman's novelist. She is an amazing young talent

Customer Reviews

The book was a recommendation from my sister and I enjoyed it greatly.
Donna Seidel Kitch
As an avid reader who follows the work of a certain author, I often wonder where they get their story lines, and how they develop their characters..
Ninette B. Latronica
I have only read two of her books at this point but have downloaded quite a few of her other ones and can't wait to get to them.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Diane VINE VOICE on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Adriana Trigiani's novels will recognize the women in her non-fiction book- her grandmothers Lucy and Viola have appeared in many of the characters in her fiction. Not only does Trigiani do a marvelous job of recounting the fascinating life stories of these women, she uses their lives to write a primer for living your own life.
Women like Lucy and Viola are the people who made this country great, and they jump off the pages in this delightful book. They have more than their fair share of troubles, (both of them are widowed), but their sheer will and strength of character will inspire other women to persevere and succeed as they did.
Although she is an Italian immigrant, Lucy moves to Minnesota and takes on the stoic characteristics of American midwesterners. She loses her husband at an early age and raises her three children on her own, all while running her own business. Viola was a pistol, running her own clothing factory, raising her family, entertaining friends in her lovely home, traveling.
Both women had terrific advice for their granddaughter, and the way that Trigiani structures the book, first telling their life stories, then sharing the how living their lives were examples we could all follow today, makes this book so enjoyable. DON'T SING AT THE TABLE would make a great gift for the women in your life, both those starting out and those whose wisdom should be shared with their own families.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ninette B. Latronica on November 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid reader who follows the work of a certain author, I often wonder where they get their story lines, and how they develop their characters.. Adriana Trigiani not only writes fantastic novels, creating memorable characters, but in writing "Don't Sing At The Table", exposed who were the women behind the creation of some of the best characters. I clearly see her grandmothers in my favorite character, Nella Castelluca, the heroine in the novel, Queen of the Big Time .All of Adriana's female characters are women of strength and determination, much like the many of the women I knew growing up.

As an Italian American woman, I related to Adriana's grandmothers. Many of my generation had grandmothers & great-aunts who were self-employed, independent, whose husbands served in the United States Military during World War I (the forgotten war), got their citizenship, and during that time, their wives became automatic citizens once they married. Many lost their husbands at a young age, most didn't remarry. My own grandmother set priorities and raised my mother alone, working hard at sometimes more than one job, while running a household.

I saw my own grandfather and great-uncles in her grandfather. These were people, though they were immigrants, were much more at ease in the American culture. All of that generation had a strong sense of identity, they were comfortable with who they were. They had a set of rules that not only they followed but expected everyone else to adhere to. Adriana emphasized how important their expectations were. She also did a great job of blending the old world and the new world. She devoted a few pages explaining how much outsourcing has affected we have lost quality and craftsmanship. All in all, I highly recommend this book if you are a Trigiani fan, as she has let you into her life. It gives you an understanding on what inspires Adriana Trigiani.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Adriana Trigiani's many fans won't be surprised to learn how the strength, support and inspiration she has gleaned from her beloved grandmothers inform her work. In these stories, we meet the ladies themselves: Lucy (Lucia Spada Bonicelli) and Viola (Yolanda Perin Trigiani). Lucy and Viola possessed many strengths and talents, both similar and complementary, for their granddaughter to admire and emulate. It's a pleasure to learn of their lives through these lively, descriptive and heartfelt anecdotes.

Lucy's story begins as the eldest of eight children, living in the Italian Alps. The family fell upon hard times. Their circumstances were so dire, in fact, that Lucy offered to travel with her father to the United States to find work. They planned to send money home and then eventually return to buy a house that would make the family secure. When she finally arrived here, Lucy found a job in a mill operating a sewing machine that paid $2 a week. She also met her future husband, a handsome shoemaker named Carlo Bonicelli. Theirs was not only a love match; they were a working team, with Carlo opening a shoe shop while Lucy ran her own dressmaking business. When Lucy was just 35, she was a widow. Still, she managed to raise a family and send her children to college by selling factory-made shoes and by sewing and altering garments. Although she had no blood relations nearby, she built a community of friends who were always available for her and her kids.

Yolanda Trigiani was called Viola --- except for the business she owned with her husband, "The Yolanda Manufacturing Company." She grew up on a farm and always believed in a productive but gracious home life. Even as she kept a perfect home, she ran her business in a constant quest for flawlessness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peggy G Filyaw on August 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Adriana Trigiani and was looking forward to reading this book. It was good from the standpoint that you can see from whom many of her characters are created. I didn't dislike the book; but enjoy her fiction better.
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