Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Review: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

This book deserves to be called epic. With close to 500 pages of text, the author tells the story of two people, Ciro, and Enza, that spans several decades and takes us from a small village in the Italian Alps to the New York City. In the process, we relive two World Wars as well as changes, such as the emancipation of women and first generation immigrants becoming American citizens. 

Adriana Trigiani understands masterfully to draw complex characters and lay the foundation early for developments occurring much later in the book. We meet Ciro as he and his brother Eduardo are dropped off at a monastery by their mother, who relies on the nuns to feed her two young boys. We follow the brothers as they grow up among nuns and in this village, Ciro first meets Enza. But fate does not bode well for their relationship as Ciro is forced to leave the nuns and is shipped off the USA. Enza stay behind, but soon fate forces her as well to immigrate to the USA in hopes of a better economic future. 

Ciro and Enza meet again in the USA, but Ciro is about to deployed during World War II and their meeting is brief, with Enza determined to make something off herself as an independent business woman. She does end up having business success and when Ciro comes back from the war, I had hoped there would be a happy end. And maybe there is? 

This book had me turning pages slower than I hoped. I really wished I could be a speed-reader so I could finally see whether the two lovers meet and can find happiness. Credit goes to Ms. Trigiani who describes the characters in the book with such detail that I was not surprised to learn that the inspiration for this story came from her own family. I have to say, having several Italian friends, the characters in this book reminded me of some of my Italian friends and how they approach a good or a bad ending.

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