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Very Valentine: A Novel Paperback – January 5, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Valentine
  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061257060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061257063
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description

Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.

In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.

While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.

A Note from Adriana Trigiani

The story of this novel began with a lady on a roof. Every morning, I head over to the Hudson River Park for fresh air and a run (just found out the exhaust fumes of the West Side Highway could kill me more quickly than lack of exercise, go figure), and I became obsessed with a woman living on one of the last small buildings facing the river amidst the “progress” of glamorous high-rises and hotels. I’d wonder, “Why does she stay?” Most summer mornings she was in her housecoat tending to tomato plants that line the fence of her rooftop. I never waved or rang her bell, but I connected to her. She reminded me of my grandmothers, who had their own gardens, and for most of their widowed lives, lived alone. I began to look for the woman, and when I saw her, I felt relieved, as though life wasn’t really racing by, and that the past was somehow, in the form of this lady, still alive.

This lady, whose name I do not know and whom I have never met, brought me to the story of Carlo Bonicelli, my grandfather, a shoemaker. I keep a photograph of him on my desk to remind me of the artisans that came before me. (It’s a crowded desktop; those of you who read Lucia, Lucia know about the seamstresses in my family!)

My grandfather Carlo died when he was thirty-nine years old. My grandmother told me that while he repaired shoes and built them, his dream was to design them. He did not live long enough to see his dream materialize. With my grandmother gone, I asked my mother about him, about his work. This wasn’t easy, as my mom cries whenever she talks about her father. As those of you dutiful children out there know, when our mothers cry, it’s like somebody’s plunging a knife into our chests. But this time, I asked her not to cry, and she told me the story of the Bonicelli shoes. Then I went to Italy with my dear pal Gina Casella, (with our five-year-old daughters in tow) to learn how to make shoes. I met a few of the great artisans, who became the inspiration for the shoemakers in this novel.

The trip changed my creative life, but it also changed the substance and course of this story. I come from people who survived by the labor of their own hands in a glorious country of their choice (our United States). I always knew this, but now I understand it. I only live as an artist because they gave me their stories, and because you read them. So, Dear Reader (love it--so Jane Austen!), Very Valentine is for you. It’s about all of us: our family dynamics, our dreams, our luck or lack of it in matters of the heart, and how we negotiate going forward, in a world that’s moving so fast, even a stroll is now a blur. This is the first of three books about Valentine Roncalli and her family of shoemakers. When I wrote it, I wanted to bring you old world craftsmanship, the magical setting of Greenwich Village, in a contemporary family saga told in vivid detail. I hope you enjoy it.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This first-in-a-trilogy is a frilly valentine to Manhattan's picturesque West Village, starring a boisterous and charmingly contentious Italian-American family. Valentine Roncalli, adrift after a failed relationship and an aborted teaching career, becomes an apprentice to her 80-year-old grandmother, Teodora Angelini, at the tiny family shoe business. While Valentine struggles to come up with a financial plan—and shoe design—to bring the Old World operation into the 21st century, her brother, Alfred, is pushing Gram to retire and sell her building for $6 million. It's not all business for Valentine, of course: handsome and sophisticated Roman Falconi, owner and chef at a posh restaurant, is vying for her heart. Bestselling Trigiani channels ambition and girl-power, but is surprisingly reserved—and retro—when it comes to romance: [O]ur relationship has to build slowly and beautifully in order to hold all the joy and misery that lies ahead, thinks Valentine. Still, this genteel and lush tale of soles and souls has loads of charm and will leave readers eager for the sequel. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

I am in love with Adriana Trigiani's stories.
D. Gould
This book concerns Valentine and her family's shoe company-- a company that makes very expensive wedding shoes in New York.
J. Jamison
Great story, vivid detail and lovable characters.
A. Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Rosalie Ciardullo on November 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Welcome to Angelini Shoes since 1903 in Greenwich Village, N.Y. Side by side two generations create custom made wedding shoes - and memories. Val Roncalli and Gram Angelini live and work together with great success! Tradition,
ambition, rendition, audition are all part of this wonderful novel by Adriana Trigiani. To say it's an entertaining
voyage through the lives of the Angelini's and the Roncalli's would be an understatement! The characters are
vividly brought to life and become a part of the reader's. Hilarity, romance - not just Val's but 80 year old Gram's as well - creativity, devotion, fortitude, all
describe the workings of this story. If you love Italian - people, food, places - you'll love this novel. Valentine takes us along on her trip to the Isle of Capri in all it's splendor even though she'd rather be savoring it with her lover the chef. While there and in Arezzo she meets and learns from talented old world
craftsmen who instantly bond with her. She learns much and takes it to Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan for
the grand prize. Hopefully I've piqued your interest and you'll find it hard to wait to read this wonderful first
book in the new trilogy. I loved it from beginning to end which came too quickly.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Julie A. Conover on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Very Valentine - oh, how I loved this book. The author, Adriana Trigiani, captured my attention in the first few pages. But she referenced Jane Austin; I knew I was going to love this book!
This is my first Adriana Trigiani novel, and I am hooked. Trigiani has the ability to describe the surroundings, the characters, the food, the clothing, and most importantly, the SHOES so that I see them all vividly. These people, her family and friends, are not mysteries to me - I know them, they are my family. They are crazy, cruel, funny, scared, lustful, hormonal, hopeless, and hopeful.
I want to discover my characters in books the way I discover my friend's character - through stories of failures and triumphs, building their personality. I don't want to read that my heroine struggles with body image (as we all do), I want to read about her laughing at herself wearing an impossible wedding dress, and then I want to read about her feeling so fabulous in an cocktail dress that she makes an impromptu phone call to a man who may or may not be her future lover. I want to read about making and eating food as if it were a sexual experience. I want my heroine to love food, not be afraid of it. I am not a fashionista, but I enjoy finding out about a woman by the shoes she wears, and discovering who a man is by the tie he wears (or doesn't wear).
Don't think this book is only character driven; it has an inspiring plot. The book centers on Valentine, the so-called "funny one" of a large Italian family. She lives in Greenwich Village with her Grandmother above the family shoe shop. This is no ordinary shoe shop - they make only 3,000 shoes a year. Each specially ordered and designed for brides, socialites, designers etc...
Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Weathers on March 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As others have stated, this is a book FULL of details shoes, clothes, food, etc. It was done with such fluidity and feeling that I actually didn't mind the detailed descriptions at all.
About two thirds through the book it became apparent that there were going to be more in the series as Trigiani seemed to "forget" about characters that had played such a prominent roll earlier in the story. Almost as if she was on a deadline and just needed to finish the main story regardless of the characters she had developed throughout. I suppose the best summary of this book is that it is about a woman's quest for finding her purpose...not so much about finding her match! With a title like Valentine and being released on Valentine's Day, you would have thought otherwise.
Overall a good read, but I won't purchase the remaining series - I'll borrow them!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By italski2 on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely LOVED this book. I have read all of her books and up until Very Valentine, my favorite of hers had been Lucia, Lucia. This is modern and hip. I laughed, cried and felt frustrated for Valentine at times. What young woman CAN'T identify with her? I so enjoyed this book and all the characters...some of them remind me of my own family! I love how she always describes an Italian American family. Being one myself, i truly enjoy reading her novels !Can't wait to read more on this family.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. St-Amour on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Typically I am not fond of these types of books- However I was hooked and could not put the book down. Not in a suspenseful kind of way but I felt as though I was privileged to be watching the story unfold. Trigiani is lyrical and poetic, this was my first read of hers and I am definitely interested reading what comes next in the Very Valentine trilogy.

It was a smart, funny, quicker paced, read than most of her counterparts in the industry. Her descriptive capabilities are so vivid, it is like she is creating a rich tapestry in front of your eyes.

I found myself immersed and loving it!

Highly recommend
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
In Manhattan's Greenwich Village, octogenarian Teodora Angelini faces the dismal fact that her family business since 1903, Angelini Shoe Company, is going bankrupt. Her thirtyish granddaughter Valentine Roncalli, having failed in a relationship and as a teacher, asks Gram to teach her how to design quality wedding shoes while she works out a financial plan to save the business as the mortgage overwhelms the profits.

On the other hand Valentine's brother, Alfred, wants Gram to retire to a home and his to an apartment so that he can sell the building for millions. Meanwhile Chef Roman Falconi wants Valentine so when she and her Gram go to Italy to buy supplies, they plan to rendezvous on Capri. However, she is confused re her personal life after Valentine meets Gianluca, the son of Gram's lover and secret fiancé, finding she is attracted to him.

Although this is more Valentine's tale, this is a deep character study that has many messages but mostly focuses on what to do with a family business that provided for a wonderful lifestyle yet whose time seems to have past as specialty brick stores are being superseded by the Net. Valentine and Alfred have opposing opinions as he wants to end the drain and make an instant profit by selling the edifice while she feels a strong need to save the shoe business. Fans will appreciate this strong tale as Adriana Trigiani does not pass judgment, leaving that to the reader, as tradition and letting go have their respective time and place.

Harriet Klausner
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