Monday, 14 January 2013

The Shoemaker's Wife - Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's WifeThe Story...

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.

A Reader's Experience...

A truly remarkable epic tale of enduring love, loss, survival, family, and change. There is so very much packed in to the novel, yet while the action is steady there is also enough description to draw the reader in to the lives of the characters and their personalities. It is not simply a novel about migration or war or a family history. It is a strikingly human, vivid and interconnected volume of lived experiences, great in scope and moving in its strength and complexity.

Enza is in many ways a typical strong and courageous heroine of fairy tale proportions, yet she does posess the intellegence and noble ambitions that make me admire her resilience and moral character. She follows her dreams and does what is right for her family in a completely unspoiled and unselfish way, and she also learns to follow her own heart and do what she knows is right for her own self and fulfillment in life. It seems clear that without her creativity, talent, wisdom and good judgement, she never would have been able to leave everything she knew to make a new life in a new land, to cope with radical change in the way that she did.

I feel certain that the characters of the story truly lived and truly loved fully and completely. They worked, they cherished their family and friends, they went on incredible journies and coped with sickness and loss. There was marriage and children, there was escape from danger and scandal and disgrace. There was richness and fame, poverty and abondonment. I feel that there is not much the two main characters did not see or do in the course of their lives because it was all so significant and so meaningfully tied together. They are truly admirable characters of integrity

It also seems like a special sort of fate that continually unites Enza and Ciro in the midst of unexpected or dire circumstances. The graveyard, the hospital, and again and again in New York. Not only does fate seem to set them up, but seems insistent to the point of unquestionable reassurance of the fact that they are indeed inseperable. This is another relationship that survives the tests of time and distance and everything else meant to seperate. It's the real deal. Yet the story allows for strong individuals as well. They have very powerful independent talents, hopes, strengths and experiences. It is a relationship built on deeper desire and enriching one another's lives, not simply on hopeless or compulsive need and dependence.

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