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Very Valentine: A Novel Paperback – January 5, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 532 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Valentine Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

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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.
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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: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (532 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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...
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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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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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By A Customer 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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