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Very Valentine: A Novel Hardcover – February 3, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,174 ratings

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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.

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.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper; Stated First Edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0061257052
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0061257056
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.35 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.21 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 1,174 ratings

About the author

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Beloved by millions of readers around the world for her "dazzling" novels (USA Today), Adriana Trigiani is “a master of palpable and visual detail” (Washington Post) and “a comedy writer with a heart of gold” (New York Times). She is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including her latest, The Good Left Undone- an instant New York Times best seller, Book of the Month pick and People’s Book of the Week. Her work is published in 38 languages around the world. An award-winning playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker, Adriana’s screen credits include writer/director of the major motion picture of her debut novel, Big Stone Gap, the adaptation of her novel Very Valentine and director of Then Came You. Adriana grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she co-founded The Origin Project, an in-school writing program serving over 1,700 students in Appalachia. She is at work on her next novel for Dutton at Penguin Random House.

Follow Adriana on Facebook and Instagram @AdrianaTrigiani and on TikTok @AdrianaTrigianiAuthor or visit her website: AdrianaTrigiani.com.

Join Adriana’s Facebook LIVE show, Adriana Ink, in conversation with the world’s greatest authors- Tuesdays at 3 PM EST! For more from Adriana’s interviews, you can subscribe to her Meta “Bulletin” column, Adriana Spills the Ink: adrianatrigiani.bulletin.com/subscribe.

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
1,174 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 25, 2013
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 23, 2009
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mercyferry
1.0 out of 5 stars Very, very detailed.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 9, 2021
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Keith Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, engaging and thoroughly researched - a delight.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 18, 2020
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Bookish
3.0 out of 5 stars Very readable but not as good as the Big Stone Gap series
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 2, 2010
6 people found this helpful
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RED
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 6, 2018
Gordon Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on June 5, 2014