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The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel Hardcover – April 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061257095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061257094
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,701 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kathryn Stockett Interviews Adriana Trigiani

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. The Help is her first novel.

Kathryn Stockett: This is by far your most epic novel to date. How long did it take you to write The Shoemaker’s Wife?

Adriana Trigiani: I worked on this story for over 20 years as I wrote scripts and novels and had my own family. There are scraps of paper, dinner napkins, and bills with timelines and notes scrawled across them. There are old notebooks filled with my grandmother’s musings from 1985. I collected train tickets, copies of ships’ manifests, and a silk tag with my grandmother’s name from garments she had created. I traveled as far as the Italian Alps and as close as the few blocks it takes me to walk to Little Italy in New York City to capture the historical aspects of the story. All of this went into the novel. It was a delicious gestation period.

Stockett: This is a novel, but it is inspired by a true story—a family story, right?

Trigiani: Yes—my grandparents, Lucia and Carlo. Their love was a dance with fate. It is riddled with near misses against a landscape of such massive world events that it’s a wonder they got together at all. My challenge was to present their world to the reader so it might feel it was happening in the moment. I wanted the reader to have the experience I had when stories were told to me by the woman who lived them.

Stockett: The novel takes place during the first half of the twentieth century--what is so compelling about this period of time to you?

Trigiani: The cusp of the twentieth century was a time everything was new—cars, phones, planes, electricity, even sportswear, and in each innovation was a kind of explosive potential. No one could predict where all the inventions would lead, people only knew that change was unavoidable.

My grandparents were delighted every time America presented them with something they had never seen before. And my grandparents’ sense of wonder never left them, so I tried not to let it leave the page, be it a cross-country train ride or the first snap of the bobbin on an electric Singer sewing machine.

Stockett: Through the remarkable story of Enza and Ciro, your novel tells the larger story of the immigrant experience in America.

Trigiani: What a gift immigrants were and are to this country! They bring their talents and loyalty and make our country even greater. My grandparents were proud to be new Americans. Assimilation was not about copying an American ideal, but aspiring to their own version of it. The highest compliment you could pay a fellow immigrant was: he (or she) was a hard worker. I hear the phrase work like an immigrant said, but really, it’s bigger than that—we must also dream like immigrants.

Stockett: The Shoemaker’s Wife seamlessly brings together fictional characters and historical figures—how did the wonderful Caruso enter the novel?

Trigiani: It started with a three-foot stack of vinyl records—my grandmother Lucia’s collection of Caruso. Her absolute devotion to The Great Voice lasted her whole life long. I knew, in order to write this novel, I had to fall in love with Caruso too, because he sang the score of my grandparents’ love affair.

When Lucia passed, I went to my first opera, seeking understanding and comfort. As the music washed over me, I began to understand why my grandmother was such a fan. The words were Italian, and the emotions were big; nothing was left unexpressed in the music. If only life were that way.

Review

“Within the pages of this novel, Trigiani’s 10th, is a gloriously romantic yet sensible world that seamlessly blends practicality and beauty…built around the staggering cultural and social changes the war years swept in…. Trigiani’s very best…exquisite writing and a story enriched by the power of abiding love.” (USA Today)

“I’ve always loved reading Trigiani, but [this] is something totally new and completely wonderful: a rich, sweeping epic which tells the story of the women and men who built America dream by dream. If you’re meeting her work for the first time, get ready for a lifelong love affair. Splendid.” (Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help)

“The breathtaking… historical novel sparkles in exquisite details and vivid descriptions.” (Huffington Post)

“[A] great read….Bella.” (People)

“Pure pleasure . . . full-bodied and elegantly written.” (Washington Post Book World)

“You’ll have trouble putting this novel down.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“The novel is a sweeping epic, but at its heart, it’s a love story. It speaks to an era of possibilities.” (Providence Journal)

“Trigiani’s page-turning newest… is a sweeping saga… More than an epic romance, Trigiani’s work pays homage to the tribulations of the immigrant experience, and the love that makes the journey and hardships worthwhile.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This expansive epic, which seems tailor-made for a miniseries, manages to feel both old-fashioned and thoroughly contemporary…[an] irresistible love story.” (Booklist)

“Trigiani’s gift for using vivid details to create a strong sense of place and her warm affection for her characters will make this a satisfying read for her many fans.” (Library Journal)

…an old-fashioned, romantic tale of two star-tangled lovers...but also a paean to artisanal work, food, friendship and family…Trigiani is a master of palpable and visual detail. (Washington Post)

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

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
1,566
4 star
698
3 star
278
2 star
104
1 star
55
See all 2,701 customer reviews
Was a book that kept interest up from beginning to end.
Karen Meyer
Written very well with great character development and an interesting story line.
S. Litton
I look forward to reading other books by Adriana Trigiani.
Michelle L. Frederick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

403 of 424 people found the following review helpful By Mr. August VINE VOICE on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Adriana Trigiani enhances the meaning of an epic novel in her new almost 500 page historical fiction. She seizes our attention in the first few chapters introducing us to the brothers Eduardo and Ciro, who are relegated to a convent when their mother can no longer take care of them after her husband's death. Set in the resplendent Italian Alps, Trigiani moves us through their unconventional upbringing by nuns to the fierce immigrant experience in America.

There is, of course, a love story, but before this relationship blossoms, the author has her sentiments regarding the Catholic Church. Although this novel takes place at the turn of the century, the strength of the village and the Church seem timeless. Eduardo is a scholarly older brother, dedicated to protecting his outgoing, opinionated younger sibling, Ciro. Ciro is a big strong kid whom the nuns adore with his sense of humor and his commitment to earn his keep at the Convent. He goes beyond his tasks and makes an extra effort. This enthusiasm flourishes in his passions, also. He observes the town's beloved priest in a scandalous situation. The priest, to protect himself, sends the two brothers away from their beloved town and the only family they have known. Trigiani boldly depicts the strength and sole authority of the Church and the goodness of the nuns.

Before they are banished by the Church, Ciro meets Enza, a lovely girl while he is digging the grave for her youngest sister. The author enforces the strength and love of family throughout the book and this tragedy initiates a spark of love. Enza is despondent when Ciro leaves without an explanation. This love affair is the basis of the strength of the story amid the immigrant struggle in Little Italy.
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135 of 145 people found the following review helpful By B. A. Chaney VINE VOICE on March 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Adriana Trigiani's "The Shoemaker's Wife" is an epic tale of immigration, love, and finding your life. The novel spans three decades, from the 1910s to the end of World War II. At the center of the story are Ciro and Enza, two young immigrants from the same small town in the Italian Alps. Both must immigrate to New York under duress, after their initial spark in Italy. After a chance encounter in New York, the two must decide if their future lies together or apart.

I really enjoyed this novel, the first I head read by Trigiani. My understanding is that her novels are normally romances, but I felt like this novel was more like good historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in. From the Italian Alps to the street of Little Italy to the trenches of France during World War I, this novel covers a lot and Trigiani does a great job of taking her reader along on her characters adventures. For me the characters felt genuine and I liked them, always something that helps me connect to a novel. My only real complaint with this enjoyable page turner was that although the novel is long (at nearly 400 pages) the author's pacing is uneven. She spends a lot of time in certain parts of the story, and very little in others.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was a fairly light, quick read, with good historical detail and just the right amount of romance.
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127 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Carol A. Sym on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Shoemaker's Wife was a roller coaster read for me. Although the characters were well defined and the history interesting the novel just did not capture my heart. The overly detailed minutia took away from the storyline. There were descriptions of food , clothing etc that went on and on and on while crucial life events had 6 year gaps or took just a few pages to develop. This was a big failing point for me. The last chapter of the book seemed rushed and totally undeveloped. Many of the events were contrived and stretched the reader's believability. All this being said I did appreciate reading about the Italian immigration experience and the strong, hard working characters who were the heroes in this novel.Some scenes were beautiful and emotionally true.
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126 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ciro Lazzari was seven years old when his distraught mother placed her two sons in a convent and disappeared from their lives. Enza Ravanelli grew up in a warm and growing, if poor, family in the same remote alpine district of Italy. The two met briefly at the burial of Enza's little sister and formed an intense but brief connection. Later, as a result of strange coincidences, they would meet again in America, in New York City. And again. Their romance, if it was one, might have seemed doomed, but then...well, you'll have to read it yourself. The story ranges from alpine Italy to New York, to Minnesota, to the battlefields of World War I, to the Metropolitan Opera House and an enchanted encounter with Enrico Caruso. It is a story of love, family, romance, hard work, adversity, and the immigrant experience of the early 1900s.

This is a sentimental book, a romantic book, and at 468 pages, a long book. Author Adriana Trigiani writes well, but at times over-writes. Her prose is packed with detail--long, sentimental speeches, improbable dialogue, incredible detail about foods, cooking, sewing, fabrics, architecture and shoe-making. And, of course, lots of adjectives. I found the book slow at first, hard to get into, but after the first fifty or one hundred pages, it began to come alive. The characters are richly evoked, strong and determined folk who take their own course in life. You will soon feel as if you know them personally.

If you're looking for a romantic saga of the early twentieth century, replete with love, family, and struggle, you will love this book, and I recommend it. It's not a quick and easy read, though. Reviewed by Louis N.Gruber.
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