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I could not put The Shoemaker s Wife down It s a great love story, set in early 20th century America and 19th century Italy Finally, a book about early Italian immigrants that does not involve the mafia 2012, off to a good start Enza and Ciro, whose story is based on the true romance of the author s grandparents, grow up just a few miles apart from each other in the mountains of Northern Italy Both are poor, but talented Ciro is a handsome hard worker, the village Romeo, but also good with his wits Enza is a talented seamstress, butthan that, she s the glue that holds her family together The smart, level headed one with the head for business Poverty and bouts with injustice force both to go to America at the same time, but he settles in Manhattan, and she in Hoboken Enza s talents eventually land her a job sewing costumes at the Metropolitan Opera for the Great Caruso, one of Italy s finest singers Ciro learns how to make shoes and succeeds in business But still, for about 75% of the book, the wife part of the title remains unfulfilled That s probably for the best, as the most enjoyable parts of the story are really the Enza Ciro sort of love affair You know they re destined to be together, but circumstance keeps pulling them apart They find and lose each other for years before they finally tie the knot, and even then, it s an uncertain thing As I said, the first three quarters of the book, the story of the couple and their love affair, is the best part It probably could have ended nicely with their marriage and an epilogue Instead, Trigiani decides to drag it out for severaldecades, and without the pushing of the ill fated love affair, the story loses a lot of its tension Still, Trigiani is a skilled writer and she does a good job evoking the eras that you re travelling in Even if you re just coasting to the conclusion, it s a nice ride. I really wanted to like this book, especially since I m an avid reader of historical fiction and a friend recommended it A love story that travels from the Italian Alps across the Atlantic to New York City and to the Iron Range of Minnesota in a sweeping historical novel that spans the first half of the twentieth century What s not to like, right Well, the glaring historical and geographical errors that never ceased to pop up, for one thing.Maybe I m an anomaly and no one else cares about a minimum level of accuracy in historical fiction, but if you re bothered by errors and I don t mean artistic license , this novel will give you a headache Here s a sample of the most egregious errors I noted several others I ve not included, and who knows how many I missed After all, I know nothing about opera, Minnesota, or how to make shoes Any one or two of the following could probably be overlooked in an otherwise engaging tale, but by the time you ve been smacked over the head by one every twenty or thirty pages, it just gets tedious There may be some spoilers here even if they don t give away the story, they might end up spoiling it for you 1 Pizzo Camino is not the tallest mountain in the Alps It s not even the tallest peak in the Italian Alps That would be Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco, on the French Italian border Off to a good start 2 Imagine it It s 1910, you travel from the Italian Alps to Venice, take a ship from Venice down the Adriatic, around the boot of Italy, across the western Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar, around Spain and Portugal and across the Bay of Biscay, and up the English Channel, and you dock at Le Havre two days after leaving home Impossible, right Of course it s impossible 100 years ago or today Apparently, the author didn t see a problem with this Maybe she thought Venice is where Genoa is and Le Havre is where Marseille is 3 You can t make Burgundy in the Italian Alps Burgundy is a regional appellation, the same way Champagne is Maybe she was just describing the color 4 The Hell s sic Gate Bridge crosses Hell Gate on the East River, not the Hudson Google Maps is really handy if you re that confused about the geography of the part of your historical novel set in New York.5 You know, Ciro, if there s a war, we don t know what side Italy will be on It could make it very difficult for us here SIGH In 1916 when this statement was made by one of the novel s characters the First World War had been underway for at least a year and a half, and Italy had been in a state of war against Austria Hungary since May 1915 It was pretty clear to everyone, on both sides of the Atlantic, which side Italy was on in 1916.6 Would it take you longer than 29 days to travel from the front in northeastern France to Rome, meet your long lost brother in Rome and catch up over drinks, book a crossing and sail to New York, run into your long lost love and break up her engagement, meet her father for the first time, get engaged to her, and get married Yeah, me too The author apparently doesn t agree Given how quickly the novel moves in the last chapter, maybe she was just getting us ready for this tempo.7 Yugoslavians included Serbs and Croats, among others Bosnians, Montenegrins, Slovenes, etc and,importantly, they are not Baltic beauties Again, just take a look at a map Balkan and Baltic are not the same thing.8 Boxing Day has no connection to the sport of boxing The day after Christmas, Boxing Day was traditionally when employers would give their servants a day off and provide them with boxes containing certain goods for their post Christmas Christmas celebration Look, if you re going to write historical fiction and a novel apparently loosely based on your own family s story at that by all means don t write things that will trip up anyone who s taken a history course and is halfway paying attention, or at least hire an editor who knows how to do research And that s not to mention the sometimes stilted writing and the way the author decided to roll an entire decade into the final chapter and speed us to the conclusion as if we were on a runaway train But that s a different review altogether. If there s one book that should be on your summer reading list, it s The Shoemaker s Wife It isn t just a book it s an experience It s a slow, beautiful, compelling story with which you can t help but feel involved and enamoured.No matter what chapter you are on in this book, the setting is always lush and evocative The Italian Alps captured me during the first half of the book and America, specifically New York, came to life during the latter half The story follows two main characters Enza and Ciro who both lead different lives but their paths delicately begin to intertwine Their personalities jump off the pages in different ways Enza is the strong, stoic young woman who is deeply family minded but also has a will of her own while Ciro is just like a lovable teddy bear Ciro is a fantastic character He s handsome, funny, charismatic, and yet of course he carries his own burdens Full of life and Italian zest, Ciro strives to come to terms with his past and find solace in his future Meanwhile, Enza learns how to survive in New York City with the help of a steady friend and her own unparalleled sewing skills.Midway through the book, I thought that the story was progressing at a slow pace, but I soon realized that s exactly what it was meant to do It s like taking a leisurely passeggiata One doesn t simply rush through it one enjoys the surroundings and the quiet company This book means to have you spend some real time with Enza and Ciro respectively, rather than rushing through climactic plot points Ultimately it is this strong relationship that you build with the characters and the setting that makes the read a memorable one.When I read, I never actually register that I am holding a book in my hands and am engaging with words I simply become one with the story The Shoemaker s Wife took this involvement to a whole new level whereby long after I had finished, I still felt very much connected to Enza and Ciro and the taste of the Italian Alps lingered in my mind.If my endorsement doesn t do it for you, take it from Kathryn Stockett author of The Help this book is Utterly splended The author, clearly, did her research before writing this book and she put every tidbit of research into the novel It was very descriptive, even when a description was not necessary There were so many wasted words There were ideas, and characters, and actions that did not move the story forward or enrich the act of reading in any way I felt that, had the author trimmed the fat, the story may have been tolerable Tolerable, not good Tolerable because, frankly speaking, this is a poorly written book I tried to find a way to excuse the writing Maybe this is her first novel, I told myself I could definitely excuse a little bad writing if it was her first novel Nope It s her 10th She should know better Aside from the unnecessary descriptive language, Trigiani is bold enough to break Cardinal Writing Rule 1 Show don t tell Now, I m all about rebels and rule breakers, but it didn t work in this case Written in the 3rd person omniscient is that ever a good idea , Trigiani tells the reader what the characters are thinking and feeling The dialogue is often used as an info dump , and the characters never show their emotions through their actions The result two dimensional characters buried under a mountain of useless words I was so unconvinced of the connection between the two lead characters, Enza and Ciro, that it was terribly anti climactic when they finally decided to give their relationship a chance A teacher once told me that some stories are better realized as novels, while others make better scripts or plays Perhaps, Adriana Trigiani should have written this as a script I could visualize the story playing out as a Hallmark mini series, and I probably would watch it If you enjoy the immigrant experience, and long winded passages, you might just like this book I felt so bad about having to write such a negative review but, hey, I ve got to be honest that I was tempted to read something else written by the author in an effort to vindicate her Sadly, I just couldn t stand the idea of putting myself through that. The first part of this story was very good, but it lost steam about halfway through At first, I enjoyed Trigiani s many descriptions of food, architecture, and scenery They invoked in me an overwhelming desire to travel to the Italian Alps and eat custard baked by nuns After a while though, Trigiani s writing style began to get on my nerves She had the annoying habit of wrapping up significant events from an omniscient future point of view, as though her readers are sitting beside her looking through the yellowing photographs of her family album Considering Trigiani is writing about her own family, I can see how this happened, but it had the effect of distancing me from the story What finally pushed me over the edge though was the unbearable rhapsodizing that took over in the last 100 pages of the novel It was the most cliched and dull mess of wrapping up a novel that I ve ever seen My verdict read the first 370 pages of this novel and skim the last 100 if you want to keep your eyes from aching from the perpetual rolling motion that is sure to ensue. Meh Overly descriptive, is that a bad thing Sometimes Sometimes it is so oppressive that you just breeze over the chapter Sometimes it s kind of lovely Despite a book where SO MUCH happens, not much happens, you know I mean, one moment you are in the Italian Alps, the next NYC, then Minnesota So what So much happens in the book but is so bogged down in description that the change of scenery just kind of occurs as an incident Take World War I for example Though it deeply affects a character, the actual dedication to it in the narrative is like MAYBE 5 pages Granted, there are some tender moments and a plethora of sadness in the book, particularly toward the end, and yes, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn t The most fascinating part of the story is the era, and the wide eyed POV of Ciro when he arrives from the simple hills of Italy to the bustle that is the United States, particularly New York City The era is the most interesting thing in the book.NOTE I was also listening to the audio while reading and the abrupt change of narrator from the Italian actress to author Trigiani is AWFUL The author even skips words What a wonderful book starting in Italy going to New Jersey then New York City most of it taking place before I was born.How tough times were and rent was 1.00 a month can t even by a loaf of bread for that now days.There were times my tears kept me from reading the words but loved every word and wantedwhen it ended. This beautiful novel is an absolutely stunning work of art A riveting historical epic of love, family, loss, risk and destiny Just shy of 500 pages, this saga begins in the Italian Alps and takes the reader to Little Italy in NY, the Minnesota Iron Range and the trenches of France Beautifully written and authentic in artesian charm of its time, the story of two star crossed lovers and their hardships will make your heart sing, break, and endure with them until they finally find each other.for a little while.1905 Bergamo, Italy, Caterina Lazzari has to do the unthinkable She can t raise her two sons Ciro and Eduardo alone any, and drops them off at a convent to live with nuns with the promise to return in a year to pick them back up As time passes, the boys are mastering different skills Ciro tends to the fireplaces, milks the cows, makes cheese, chops wood, scrubs wooden floors and shovels coal daily Eduardo uses his talents in reading and calligraphy, becomes devout and serves as altar boy Their mother never returns Not far from Bergamo, a bit further up in the mountain village of Schilpario, lives Enza, eldest daughter of the Ravenellis with her family and works all the household chores, studies to be a seamstress and helps her dad Marco with his carriage business But income is very meager.Ciro and Eduardo become strapping young teenagers Ciro is sent up the mountain one day, to dig a grave for a funeral One of Enza s siblings has passed away And this is where Ciro meets Enza for the first time Their ease of conversation and their friendly exchange leaves them both smitten with each other forever.Caught witness to something awful at the wrong place and the wrong time, Ciro, as way of eliminating him is to be sent to a work camp But the nuns love him dearly and put all their money together to get Ciro a ticket of the lowest ship fare to NYC and save him There, he is to become a shoemaker s apprentice with a family relative of one of the nuns He never has a chance to say good bye to Enza.Enza s family is ridden withhardships Their landlord isn t holding up to a bargain that was made years ago, and the family moves to a small other rental home Their dreams of owning a farm and their own house is ruined Marco decides to take Enza to America to make money for a year to send back home to make their dreams come true But Enza gets very sick on the ship and the two of them are separated at NYC harbor After a long recovery, Enza ends up working in Hoboken NJ at a seamstress factory under the worst conditions Laura, her supervisor at the factory endures this with Enza and the other girls for a long time, but then decides to take all their savings and work their way to the Opera House in NYC where Enza s luck and talent begins to flourish.So the years pass by and both Ciro, Enza and Marco keep working for their dreams Close in proximity, both in NYC, Ciro s and Enza s timing to meet is off.and it continues so for a long time Ciro goes to War and returns, Enza is successful and almost gets married at the Opera Marco finally gets to return home and builds that dream home for the family, but will Enza s and Ciro s dreams come true Will they find each other How about Eduardo and their mother Adriana Trigiani superbly masters the palpable and visual details of the different settings in the novel Scenes and impressions are so vividly brought to life for the senses The reader can hear the goats in the mountains, smell the ocean in the harbor, immerse into the hustle and bustle of the NYC streets at the turn of the century, feel the grit and soot of the factories as well as experience the glitz and glam of the opera house Trigiani s writing makes the material feel a reality The arduous wait and hope for betterment in the NEW World, the unforeseen tragedies happening to the characters and that very long path to love create a tantalizing tug and longing in the reader It simply is brilliant and deserves the respect with the best of epics.I loved this novel, if you can t tell It reads slow and is mostly void of all the conveniences we have today There is so much goodness in the people characters and that strive to achievement with hard work Commitment, devotion and endurance were all part of that generation trying to carve their own dominion in the New World It is that spirit that makes me come back for historical fiction time and time again to lure me into a life livedsimply Family values, cooking from scratch and taking care of your own is something I have firsthand experienced in Italian families growing up, and this novel holds so true to all I know about Italy and its way of life If you are a lover of historical fiction, clear your calendars, make that great pasta meal to have with wine, start this wonderful family saga and finish it off with some Tiramisu and a cappuccino Va bene Rilassati e divertiti Enjoy More reviews here This was a recent choice by one of the book clubs I belong to and when I heard it was the choice, I was less than thrilled Oh, man, I thought Not ANOTHER star crossed lovers book set during the war I had half a mind to just not read it but decided to force myself to plod through the book and do my duty as a responsible book club member Well, I was NOT prepared to be sucked into the story like I was and to discover that I really liked this book The characters were strong, complex, and likable The locations described in the book, especially the mountain villages of Italy and New York City around the time of WWI practically deserved to be considered characters in their own right as the story unfolded Subplots are rich with details of the lives of Italian American immigrants interwoven with actual historical figures such as the opera singer, Caruso This is NOT a sappy love story It is NOT a bodice ripper romance What it IS is a beautiful story of love and family devotion and the dream of a better life. ^FREE PDF ⇭ The Shoemaker's Wife ☞ 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 FutureUnbeknownst 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 SilkThis 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