Monday, 18 June 2012

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani | Fated love

Ok, so I'm not overly fond of "love stories", but The Shoemaker's Wife is just such a different "boy meets girl" that I could not help but fall in love with it. Northern Italian Ciro and his brother are raised in a convent after their father dies and their mother takes ill. Further up the mountain lives Enza, a strong young girl who will do anything for her family of mother, father and six children. When tragic events lead to the first meeting between Enza and Ciro, it seems destined that the two are made for each other. However, soon after their meeting, Ciro sees something he should not have seen, and he is sent away to America. Back in Italy, Enza's family faces disaster after they are evicted from their rented home and their loyal horse dies. With poverty looming, Enza sees no other option but to try her luck in America and send money back to her family. But without knowing the wherabouts of the other, are Enza and Ciro's paths destined to cross in the land of the free? Or will the timing always be just off the mark?

The story is set in the early 1900s. Italy is struggling, and everyone who can raise the funds, leave for America in the hopes of creating a better tomorrow. This is a period of great social differences, and this affects the characters in different ways. Ciro is lucky and is taken in by a shoemaker, so he learns the trade and soon starts dreaming of his own venture. Enza is less lucky, working day and night sewing clothes, whilst being treated like a maid by her landlady. But Enza's friend Lauren is determined to get them out of the gutter and into the flashing lights of Manhattan, and together they start planning their "escape".

Throughout this, Enza and Ciro keep meeting, then missing each other. And when Ciro signs up to fight in the first world war after being misinformed that Enza has gone back to Italy, Enza refuses to keep her life on hold for him. Enza's life is changing for the better, and she is enjoying the good life. She has a boyfriend that spoils her, and surely that is better than the ever-changing Ciro with his many lady friends.

This is a book about love that transcends space and time. Our heroes are star-crossed lovers attempting to defy destiny. Two strong themes are the importance of friends and family, and these notions seem to drive the plot forward. For Ciro, a lot of his actions are focused in some way around his brother. Enza sacrifices everything for her family, but it is her friend Lauren that teaches her to also do things for herself.

The novel is an interesting exploration of Italian culture in America, as well as the immigrant experience. The characters face hardships as well as good times on their way through life. What I find interesting is that Trigiani refrains from glorifying her characters (too much), but rather paints them as vivid and lifelike as she can. In all, The Shoemaker's Wife is a beautiful story that brings you to a different time and place where you can hear the opera music and the sewing machines and smell the gnocchi.  

2 comments:

Netherland said...

Adriana Trigiani is one of my favorite authors so I was really excited to see that she has a new book out and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. THE SHOEMAKER'S WIFE is unlike any book she's written before. It takes readers from the Italian Alps in 1905 to New York and the Metropolitan Opera ten years later and finally to Minnesota. The book is full of rich descriptions so it's easy to picture the world Enza and Ciro inhabit.

The characters on the pages come to life in Trigiani's capable hands. Enza is a strong, determined young woman who puts her family first and works hard for them. She's loyal and makes friends for life. She's a force to be reckoned with when she makes up her mind. Ciro is hard working too, but he plays hard as well. Handsome and charming, he's a ladies man, but he dreams of a bright future and is willing to make sacrifices.

Microsoft Downloads said...

Love this book. there are sections that are so clearly written that I can see and feel the emotions involved.