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Lucia, Lucia: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
In her novel, "Lucia, Lucia",author Adriana Trigiani fashions the wonderfully likeable Lucia Sartori, living in 1950s Manhattan caught between the yearning to succeed as a proud career woman and need to follow the traditional route as wife and mother that she is most familiar with as the daughter of a close-knit Italian American family.

Lucia, indisputably "the most beautiful girl in Greenwich Village", believes she can have it all. As her candid voice weaves through the ups and downs of her family life as it tangles with a sophisticated affair that promises to transform Lucia's Americanized buoyancy into a dire Italian pessimism of operatic proportions, the reader cannot help but smile down upon this 23 year old, naïve as she is, and wish for a better conclusion to her cautionary tale.

Perhaps the outcome waxes a bit predictable, but nevertheless, Trigiani authenticates the world of fashion and post-WW2 sensibilities with a seamstress's exquisite detail that would have made Edith Head relinquish one of her Costume Design Oscars for at least a day. Trigiani excels at prolific dialogue that offers insight into the paradoxical expectations for women of that time period. Her chats between the girls at B.Altman's suggest both wisdom and trepidation with regard to the sometimes concentric and sometimes non parallel worlds of men, marriage, career and family.

Best of all is Trigiani's interpretation of the dilemma of second and third generation Italian Americans: to either assimilate into the American mindset by refuting the at times suffocating shackle of family or to entrench further into one's parent's traditional existence. In this sense, Lucia becomes every Italian American woman-- she loves her family, but recoils from the ceiling set by them---she dreams of more and possesses the abilities necessary to attract more---- she allows herself to be seduced by bright lights, romance and ambition, only to come full circle and embrace a simpler sacrificial existence, perhaps wishing she had understood from the start that her soul was best known by those who raised her. As an Italian American who faced this impasse, I applaud Trigiani's bona fide representation of the interaction and emotional play needed to rectify this crisis of identity. Recommended as a fast enjoyable read.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I haven't read her other books but do plan to now. From the moment I opened Lucia, Lucia it was as though the book was glued to my hands. It was as though I was transported as an invisible voyuer in to the Sartori home - I felt every emotion because she wrote it so brilliantly. I laughed, I got angry and I sobbed more than once. By the end you feel as though you knew all these people from Lucia to Dellmar to her brothers - all of them. And it's hard to say good bye when you reach the last page because in a mere 260 pages you come to feel you were on the journey with her. To me the sign of a great book is one in which you just can't bare to reach the last page and have it end. Bellisima!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have a weakness for novels that can effectively take me to a certain time or place and make me want to stay there. Trigiani beautifully recreates and draws the reader into the glamorous and dream-like New York fashion world of the 1950's. Its setting alone is enough to make me like this book, but there is more to it than that. The reader cannot help but like Lucia, a girl with her own mind and ahead of her time. Trigiani tells her story so that the reader knows from the first paragraph Lucia's somewhat sad outcome. The reader, entering Lucia's world with almost with a feeling of superiority, waits for the dumb mistake or terrible tragedy that must have landed her in her position. But as we learn Lucia's story, we can't help but cheer her decisions as she follows her heart, even when those decisions ultimately lead her down the difficult path that leads to where we find her. The reader struggles somewhat uncomfortably, knowing the negative consequences of Lucia's decisions, but ultimately unable to disagree with them. Trigiani reminds us that following one's heart involves serious risks-- and those risks can have troubling consequences, without a happy ending. It is this simple truth that separates her novel from the rest of the novels in the "large-and strict-but-loveable-ethnic-family-with-headstrong-daughter-getting-married" genre. So, Trigiani's novel would have been more powerful if she'd left the final portion (with its 'sort of' happy ending added on) on the "cutting room floor." Trigiani is clearly a good writer, but leaving Lucia's story be would have shown more courage and artistic maturity, in my opinion. (As an aside, the use of the present tense throughout the novel also irritated me.) All in all, a good, easy read, though.
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
At first, I was loving every page of this book. Even though I do not sew and don't care a tremendous amount about fashion, Trigiani really did a great job of pulling me into Lucia's world: the care she gave to sewing, how it made her feel, the clothing she wore and worked on.
Lucia was very sympathetic. She wanted something more than what women aspired to in 1951 and even her friends could not understand her dreams. How terrible to be one of the early feminists and not have a peer group!
The book is good until the last 1/4--which seems to be a trend lately. I suppose the last 1/4 of the book must be the most difficult to write. The book kind of rushed through the ending. Additionally, what should have been the climax for the book ended up falling a bit flat--since we the reader saw this coming--and then flailed around a bit.
I truly felt Lucia's relationship with John Talbot weakened the book somewhat. Lucia is a career woman and doesn't even want to get married, yet this whole thing with John Talbot... I don't want to give it away, but it would have made MORE sense to me if Lucia herself would merely decided to call something off herself and come to this conclusion on her own, not as part of a reaction to not getting what she wants. It just seemed that the author could have done a better job of handling that. She danced around it with a conversation between Delmarr and Lucia, but she never nailed it.
This could have been a stronger story, but it wasn't a bad story. It was light reading, enjoyable, but ultimately a bit of a let-down in the end. If you enjoy stories about this time period, pick it this up. I enjoyed this read very much until the last 1/4.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Heroine: voluptuous/everywoman

Stunning Lucia Sartori is renowned for her beauty throughout New York's Greenwich Village. But it will take more than an admiring man from the neighborhood to turn her head, because she has plans. She's going somewhere with her life, and it won't be to the kitchen of some Italian matriarch who will turn her into a slave.
No, high-flying Lucia is destined for so much more than that. With her eye for color and design and her knack for turning up a perfect hem, she'll make dazzling clothes for the cream of society instead. And perhaps if the right man comes along, one who will let her live out her dreams of being a career woman, then maybe he'll be welcome to tag along for the ride.
What worked for me:

Though it started out slow I loved the storyline, which rewarded me in the end for sticking with it.
I got a kick out of Lucia's friends and close-knit large family. Even though they drove each other crazy, they all came together in times of trouble and heartbreak.
The little touches, such as including recipes for delicious Italian dishes, added even more flavor to the story. (Sorry. Couldn't resist that one!)
I thought it was very interesting how the book followed the life of a young career girl in the 1950s. That couldn't have been an easy time to be breaking out in the business world as a woman, when you were expected to go back to the kitchen now that the boys were home from the war.
Size-wise Lucia wasn't really described except to say that the men all admired her figure. Given the time period and what was in vogue then, I couldn't help but picture a young Sophia Loren type of gal.
What didn't work for me:

Some aspects of the writing style didn't really click with me.

Overall:
"Lucia, Lucia" is a very enjoyable tale. I hope to see it on the big screen one day.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Adriana Trigiani has a rare gift for gently sweeping her readers into a world that is filled with rich characters, inviting us into a story that feels like family. Lucia, Lucia is a tender and sweet story that is neither overly sentimental nor unrealistically dramatic. Adriana has woven together family relationships, romance, tragedy and nostalgia in a way that is comforting in its familiarity. I was left wanting to rush out, find an older person and listen to their life story.
Readers who have enjoyed the Big Stone Gap triology will be especially thrilled with the new venue of Greenwich Village in Lucia, Lucia. Adriana's ability to vividly sketch people and places is as evident in New York as it has been in Virgina. Her wit and warmth make you feel as if you are a welcome guest whereever she takes you.
Having just turned the last page, I enthusiastically recommend Lucia, Lucia, and head back to my own book shelves to revisit Big Stone Gap.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I received a copy of "Lucia Lucia" for Christmas and found it to be an enjoyable read. It's a story of a woman's strength to be who she feels she should be and not who she's expected to be. As other here have said, I wasn't thrilled with the ending. It felt a little disloyal to a woman who was so ahead of her time, so determined to live her own life.

I realized after reading this from cover to cover, what was really expected of me as a daughter-in-law in an Italian family. I too shunned the old Italian ways and now see why I was never really accepted.

"Lucia Lucia" hit close to home for me but I believe it is limited by cultural interest.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Kit lives in an apartment building in modern day NY with her neighbor, the slightly eccentric 70-year-old Aunt Lu, who is always draped in mink. One afternoon they have tea together, and Aunt Lu proceeds to regale the curious Kit with her life story. Lu is the Lucia of the title; a beautiful 25 year old Italian-American feminist in 1950, an age where feminism was unheard of and good Italian girls did as they were told. Lucia is pursued by Dante, who expects her to give up her job as a seamstress in the couture department of the swanky B. Altman's department store as soon as they are married. But Lucia wants more out of life than being a baker's wife, she has her own ambitions. Then she falls for John Talbot, a suave uptown businessman who sweeps her off her feet and adorns her in that infamous mink, but things don't work out exactly as Lucia planned. This novel is peopled with wonderful characters and offers a fascinating glimpse into the gentile world of Italian-American Catholic 1950's values and culture that has long since faded away.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful, heart-breaking, and thoughtful through the main body of this story but weak at the end. The story of Lucia Santori's life during the 1950's as a "career girl" was very genuine and fun to read. I so enjoyed reading about a woman who wasn't interested in getting married and having children and being the typical "woman" of her era. Lucia was an independent woman who loved her job, loved her family and loved her friends. She was a good sister, sister-in-law, daughter, friend, lover and human being. The body of the story was so full of life and meaning and changes, was so vivid and descriptive, I was completely engrossed. It really rang true to me how blind romantic love is with her relationship with John Talbot. We never choose who we will love, and it sometimes is a mystery even to ourselves why we do love that person. I really appreciated that aspect of the story. I could relate and I'm sure there are many others that will, too. But the closing of the novel seemed a little trite and pasted on. It felt as if someone else, a someone else who did not think the life of Aunt Lu deserved to be written about with any definition, wrote the conclusion. As I was reading this novel, I was telling all my friends about it and how great the story was and how I had been crying when this or that had happened. But now that it is over and I have read the final chapters, I have not told any of my friends that they should read it. My opinion of the book has totally changed. I am upset at the editors of this book that they allowed Ms. Trigiani to leave the book's ending as it was: weak and unsatisfying.
But since it was so excellent through the most of the novel, at least 80% was excellent, I give this book 3 stars. Don't expect a satisfying conclusion to a satifying body.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was sad to have finished Lucia, Lucia so quickly I devoured it. What a fabulous read. The story centers on an older Lucia reminiscing of her younger days in the 1950's. Wow, what a lady Lucia was. She had the glamorous life that included her family, friends, work and a male suitor or two.
The characters in this book are much different from the characters in the Stone Gap series; however, these characters are just as real. Bravo
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