Monday, 18 June 2012
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani | Fated love
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.