The Friday 52: The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani

[This review is based on the NOOK book digital edition published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2012.]

The single-sentence synopsis:
The Shoemaker’s Wife tells the sweeping, epic love story of Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli across two continents and several decades.

Judging the cover:
I don’t really get it — what does a woman in a fancy red dress have to do with a shoemaker or his wife? — but I hope to understand when I close the book!

First thought I had after I finished reading:
You know how all the YA fans and bloggers talk about book boyfriends? Well, I thought I loved Four, and Peeta, and Gus…forget all of them. They’re children. Ciro Lazzari is the man for me! (Sorry, Hubs!)

And here’s why:
Ciro and Enza meet under unforunately tragic circumstances and, though neither will admit it at the time, it’s clear that it’s love at first sight for both of them. A scandalous event separates them and Ciro is forced to move to the United States without informing Enza, but fate intervenes when their paths cross again in New York City. A series of near-misses leads to a ridiculously romantic encounter between them that changes the course of their lives and their relationship…and I found myself so completely jealous of Enza because of Ciro’s relentless-yet-heartfelt pursuit. (Do all Italians make grand romantic gestures like this?!) Each of them brings a great deal of love, support, and talent to the relationship, and the shoemaker and his wife find great success in life and work together. However, their greatest accomplishment is their only child, Antonio, who is intelligent, thoughtful, and athletic, and who develops a surprising and brilliant connection with an unexpected character late in the novel. He helps to bring their story full circle in a most beautiful way!

I’m split on the supporting characters in the book, but not because of the way Ms. Trigiani drew them out. Rather, there were several whom I found particularly endearing and others that I wanted to chase away from Ciro and Enza with a flyswatter. To name a few, Enza’s best friend Laura is wonderfully sassy and creative (and she’s Irish to boot, yay!), while Luigi evolves from Ciro’s Ellis Island acquaintance to trusted friend and business partner. I appreciated the deep love and respect between Ciro, his brother Eduardo, and the sisters of the convent, and between Enza and her parents as well. Meanwhile, if I could have I would have steered Ciro clear of Felicita and kept Enza far from the horrible Signora Buffa and her ungrateful daughters-in-law (which, by the way, reminded me very much of Cinderella). Like them or not, though, all of these characters (and more) shape Ciro and Enza into the individuals and the couple they grow into, and for that I thank each and every one of them.

The Shoemaker’s Wife serves as a vivid reminder of how difficult life was for immigrants. Ms. Trigiani takes what we know of the immigrant experience from high school history and breathes new life into it, along with the beauty of Italy, the bustle of Manhattan, and the rough newness of Minnesota. It’s truly a step back in time, perfect for a historical fiction buff like myself. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down and couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to pick it up! I hope it has the same effect on you!

(Oh, and by the way — the cover image? I figured out its significance while I was reading. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just tell you that it’s related to Enza. Read and learn!)

On a scale of 1-5, I would give it a…
5!! If you’re unfamiliar with Adriana Trigiani’s work like I was, The Shoemaker’s Wife serves as a fabulous introduction!

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Click here to order The Shoemaker’s Wife via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound!