( From Goodreads) The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.
This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.
In the spirit of full disclosure I should let you know I love Adriana Trigiani to a near stalker extent. I would read, and I’m sure love, anything she wrote. If she would be so kind as to send me her cast of grocery lists I would be a happy girl. That being said it should come as no surprise to anyone when I say I adored this book. But even more so than just as an AT (yes, that’s how cool I am I call her AT) novel but a a truly magical story.
From the mountains of Italy to backstage at the Metropolitan Opera House to the Iron Mountains on Minnesota this in both a sweeping immigrants tale and an intimate love story. And every word of it held me spellbound. If I could properly convey the sighs I’ve made when talking about this book I would. It really is remarkable.
Here’s the thing that got me for the first section of the book. You know the main characters are going to end up together, it’s there in the title. But at every missed connection as was heart-broken. Enza and Ciro are destined for each other and I wanted that destiny to hurry up. When it finally does it’s so satisfying I have to admit it was worth the wait.
The other thing I found amazing about this book, is just have brave those souls who left everything to make a new life were. I mean the characters in this book are babies, 15 years old for goodness sake. We don’t even let our 15 year olds drive let alone set sail across the globe, alone to make their way in the world. Honestly, those of us with grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. who did this come from hardy stock and should be proud to the end of time at what they did.
The loving care AT tells her grandparents story is a testament to just how much their story shapes her family’s history and makes me love her all the more. (Don’t worry I won’t really stalk her-well at least I’ll try).
There’s so much to love about this story. All the characters are fantastic. Enza’s friend Laura is a friend we all should have. Ciro’s brother Eduardo is as good a man that has been written. The nuns who care for the Lazzari brothers are warm and wonderful and Enza’s family is so loving and caring you’ll understand how Enza turned out so well.
I made a promise I was not going to reread books this year because my TBR stack is so big but I think I may have to break it for this. All I can say is thank you Adriana Trigini for becoming a writer and thank you to her grandparents for inspiring such a wonderful story. Now, all of you hurry out and buy a copy-you won’t be sorry.
Thanks to my boyfriend Edeweiss for my review copy of The Shoemaker’s Wife.