The Shoemaker’s Wife

Published April 28, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Overview from Beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani returns with the most epic and ambitious novel of her career—a breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again. The Shoemaker’s Wife is replete with the all the page-turning adventure, sumptuous detail, and heart-stopping romance that has made Adriana Trigiani, “one of the reigning queens of women’s fiction” (USA Today). Fans of Trigiani’s sweeping family dramas like Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia will love her latest masterpiece, a book Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, calls “totally new and completely wonderful: a rich, sweeping epic which tells the story of the women and men who built America dream by dream.”

My Review:

When The Shoemaker’s Wife came out I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I checked the Nook book price at the Barnes and Noble website but found it was a little high for an e-book. I didn’t want to pay that much but I wanted to read it.  I was really excited when I found out that my local library would soon have it. The book just came out so I didn’t expect that. I think I am the first one of the library’s patron’s to read it.

Of course I love Ms. Trigiani’s books. She writes great stories about everyday people who touch the heart without being corny or cheesy and without a lot of sex and profanity. I think she is one of my top ten favorite modern authors.

This book though was a little different from what I expected at first. The two main characters, I believe, are her grandparents or great grandparents who came from the Alpine area of Italy. I had no trouble liking Enza but I did have a little difficulty liking Ciro at first.

I knew the storyline had something to do with how they met and fell in love. Because I was having trouble liking Ciro at that point I began to hope that Enza would marry someone else. Ciro didn’t seem to deserve her. He also didn’t seem like he really cared about her that much in the beginning, not like the way Enza cared for him.

It seemed that I wasn’t the only one because, to my relief, Enza addresses my concerns in one of her conversations with Ciro. She tells him how much she thought of him while he seemed to think of her only every now and again. Ciro tries to insist that they have a few little moments which he equates with having a history. Enza sets him straight.

“Enza pulled her hand from his and placed it on her lap. ‘No, Ciro! Listen. A man who wants a woman will do anything it takes to win her. If you thought I went back to Schilpario, why wouldn’t you write? Why wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to find me? No ocean, no obstacle, no excuse could have kept us apart had you wanted me.’

‘That’s true.’ His heart grew heavy as he realized she was right.” p. 281

After this moment, it was a lot easier for me to like him, though I still think that I like Enza better. Before that moment I wasn’t really sure I even wanted him with Enza. I thought she had better chances with Vito Blazek. He seemed to be willing to do everything for her.

It turned out that I was wrong though. Later in the novel we see how Vito’s life became a mess. And Enza, though she may not have been wealthy, was better cared for as Ciro’s wife than she would have been with Vito. When Ciro got married, he had been much better prepared to settle down.

During Enza time away from Ciro, she has some fantastic adventures of her own. She and one of her best friends manage to find a way to crawl out of the hole they are in. In Enza’s case, it means going from being a virtual servant to a distant American relative and her daughters-in-law in Hoboken to working for the great Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera House. Fans of Caruso will undoubtably appreciate reading about their idol and his love for his home country.

Another part that I liked was the sections featuring descriptions of the checkpoints at Ellis Island. I have been there and I pictured that place as I read. I also found some similarities between what my great grandparents had endured in trying to adapt to life in this country and what awaited Ciro and Enza as they tried to fit in. Perhaps they appreciated their American citizenship so much because of everything they had to endure to get it. It is often that way in life that we only really appreciate the things that we have to fight for.

I don’t want to say much more about the story for fear of giving too much away. I will just say this– in the end, I loved it. It was powerful and real. I think if you like historical fiction and stories about REAL Italian people struggling to make it, you will love this. As I mentioned earlier, there is also a little bit of romance, but it does not dominate the story as much as I was afraid it would.

In the end, it is just another great Adriana Trigiani story about everyday people trying to survive and trying to find some meaning in their lives. I think future readers will enjoy this one as much as I did, maybe more. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good, wholesome story.

Contains: some language, and brief allusions to sexuality.

Below is the book trailer.


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