Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: "The Shoemaker's Wife"

"The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 4 out of 5
First published in 2012
(image source)

"The Shoemaker's Wife" is a fictionalized account of Adriana Trigiani's grandparents' own fascinating love story. I'm telling you this right away, because I think I would have appreciated and enjoyed the story that much more had I known that tidbit before I read it.

We first meet Enza Ravenelli and Ciro Lazzari in the early 1900s as children in the Italian Alps, where they live a few miles apart. After a chance meeting as teenagers, they both suffer different but equally difficult life tragedies and -- unbeknownst to each other -- immigrate to New York City. Ciro becomes a shoemaker's apprentice and Enza, after several years of struggle and determination, lands a job as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Eventually, Ciro and Enza's paths cross again, but their lives have diverged so much from the time they felt that spark at 15 on their mountain in Italy. Can they make a go of it? Dare they even try?

The love story, of course, is the centerpiece of the novel, but there are historical and cultural facets as well -- the rich landscape of northern Italy, crossing the Atlantic by ship and arriving in new land with nothing but dreams in your pocket, the life of a factory girl, the glitz of the Met, both world wars. It's a grand novel of love, loss, friendship, family, patience, sacrifice -- all the usual sappy themes. But they're presented in a fascinating way.

While I loved the plot, I found the construction of the book to be a bit of a sticking point. While the middle of the book -- the New York City section --  was phenomenal, the beginning was terribly slow and took me days and days to wade through. And the last portion speeds by years at a time, which seems abrupt after the slow to moderate pace of the remainder of the book.

But that's a rather small issue, and "The Shoemaker's Wife" is definitely worth a look.  Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story, but I wouldn't have the patience to get through the very slow beginning.


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