Brava Valentine

Published May 19, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of Brava Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Overview from www.bn.com: When Valentine’s grandmother begins a new life in Italy, she places Valentine and her nemesis, her brother Alfred, “the Prince,” as partners at the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of handcrafted wedding shoes since 1903. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she unearths a long-buried family secret and finds herself torn between a past love that nurtured her and a new one that promises to sustain her, in this “dazzling” (USA Today) follow-up to Very Valentine.

My Review:

A few weeks ago when I reviewed The Shoemaker’s Wife I remembered that I had not yet gotten around to reading Brava Valentine. I read the first Valentine book which was called Very Valentine but somehow I’d never gotten around to this one. Vowing to rectify that situation, I put a hold on a copy at my library and then greedily devoured it. It took me less than a week to read it.

As you can tell I really liked it. Though to be fair, it isn’t much of a surprise since I am a major Trigiani fan. Was it my favorite? Probably not but there were some things in it that I really loved. The first is Trigiani’s use of the Italian language. There are some small scenes where the dialogue is almost completely in Italian and that surprised me, particularly since Trigiani often does not provide a translation.

I loved it and I understood every word of the Italian conversation but I did wonder about how other readers would have felt about it. That is, those of them who do not speak Italian. I wonder if they would have been able to follow it the way I did. Here’s one of those insistences. Please tell me what you think.

“’Avrebbe bisogno di un po’ d’aiuto?’ I ask.

“The chef breaks a smile and shakes his head that he doesn’t.

“’Le dispiace se rimango a guardare mentre lavora?’

“He nods that I may. Better to be in this hot hell than the one in the dining room.” P.26

The other thing that I like a lot is the comedy. It is a family drama as told from Valentine’s (or Valentina’s) point of view but her family is basically a comedy of errors. Probably not unlike yours or my family. Aunt Feen in particular makes me laugh. Although I sometimes get the feeling that she is supposed to be the unlikeable one, I can’t help but like her, if for no other reason than she makes me laugh.

Feen manages to single-handedly ruin the wedding of her sister and Valentine’s grandmother Teodora. Or at least that is how most of the family sees. Here’s another great quote.

“To the sound of twenty chairs scraping the wood floor, accompanied by cries of ‘Dear God’ and gasps of ‘O Dio,’ Aunt Feen hits the floor on cue, and at the drop of her Second Act curtain.” P. 31

Of course, for Valentine, the wedding is already a miserable experience since she is forced to watch Gianluca, a man she has strong feelings about, cavorting with one of the most beautiful women she has ever seen. Maybe Aunt Feen’s drinking problem was a good thing for her. At least it got her out of the wedding reception from hell. After all, she only got to hide in the kitchen so long before she was kicked out.

So while my verdict on this is that I liked it a lot, it is not one of my favorite Trigiani novels. (Oh come on, you know I can’t pick just one.) It is worth a read but of the two, The Shoemaker’s Wife is still my favorite. If you’re looking for some comedy in your life and something to make you feel better about the craziness in your own family, this one would be perfect. So give it shot.

Contains: sexuality and some language.

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