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The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel [Paperback]

Adriana Trigiani
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2012

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.

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The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel + The Kitchen House: A Novel
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Product Description


“Within the pages of this novel, Trigiani’s 10th, is a gloriously romantic yet sensible world that seamlessly blends practicality and beauty…built around the staggering cultural and social changes the war years swept in…. Trigiani’s very best…exquisite writing and a story enriched by the power of abiding love.” (USA Today)

“I’ve always loved reading Trigiani, but [this] is something totally new and completely wonderful: a rich, sweeping epic which tells the story of the women and men who built America dream by dream. If you’re meeting her work for the first time, get ready for a lifelong love affair. Splendid.” (Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help)

“The breathtaking… historical novel sparkles in exquisite details and vivid descriptions.” (Huffington Post)

“[A] great read….Bella.” (People)

“Pure pleasure . . . full-bodied and elegantly written.” (Washington Post Book World)

“You’ll have trouble putting this novel down.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“The novel is a sweeping epic, but at its heart, it’s a love story. It speaks to an era of possibilities.” (Providence Journal)

“Trigiani’s page-turning newest… is a sweeping saga… More than an epic romance, Trigiani’s work pays homage to the tribulations of the immigrant experience, and the love that makes the journey and hardships worthwhile.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This expansive epic, which seems tailor-made for a miniseries, manages to feel both old-fashioned and thoroughly contemporary…[an] irresistible love story.” (Booklist)

“Trigiani’s gift for using vivid details to create a strong sense of place and her warm affection for her characters will make this a satisfying read for her many fans.” (Library Journal)

…an old-fashioned, romantic tale of two star-tangled lovers...but also a paean to artisanal work, food, friendship and family…Trigiani is a master of palpable and visual detail. (Washington Post)

From the Back Cover

High in the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century, Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, meets Enza, a practical beauty. But when scandal rocks Ciro's tiny village, unbeknownst to Enza, he is sent to hide in America. When disaster strikes Enza's family, she, too, is forced to go to America.

Ciro and Enza build fledgling lives—until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza finds success in the costume department of the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Trigiani's own family history, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imagina-tions of readers for years to come.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a taste of my own history April 26 2012
By Laura Fabiani TOP 500 REVIEWER
To say that I loved reading this book is an understatement. It's a story that touched me deeply because it explores themes I am familiar with: the immigrant experience, the Italian setting, and characters that remind me of my own relatives. I savoured every page! I have read only one other book from Trigiani, which was Very Valentine, and although I enjoyed it, I found the storytelling and writing in The Shoemaker's Wife far superior.

This epic story begins in the early 1900s in the Italian Alps, where we first meet Enza and Ciro who are children. Enza is raised in a loving family while Ciro is left with his brother at a convent to be raised by nuns. Ciro and Enza meet as teenagers and form a bond when they share a deeply moving experience, but shortly after Ciro must leave the mountain against his will to set sail for America where he learns the trade of a shoemaker. Enza also travels to America and works hard to send money home to her family, eventually making a career as a seamstress. She and Ciro briefly meet again in America, but only come together years later after World War I.

Trigiani's skill as a writer is clearly shown as she deftly takes us from the fresh Italian Alps to bustling Little Italy in New York City at the turn of the century, to the glamorous Metropolitan Opera House and later to Minnesota. I enjoyed every setting and found the events flowed smoothly in this novel. Rich with details and believable characters, I was transported to a different era, to a time when my own great-grandfather sailed a ship that took him from Italy to Boston.

I smiled and I cried (no, I bawled toward the end of the story) as I was so invested in the lives of all the characters, from the loving nuns in the village of Schilpario, Italy to Caruso at the Opera House.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life in words Dec 14 2013
By Rob Slaven TOP 100 REVIEWER
Firstly and as always I would be remiss if I didn't note that I received this book free as a Goodreads giveaway. I entered the Giveaway, as I always do, knowing absolutely nothing of the book in question and intentionally avoiding any background. The fact that the book was free (as anyone who looks at my other reviews of free books will note) will have no impact on my review of it.

Unlike many of the free books I've reviewed this one wasn't free because it was new and just coming out and needed reviewing. It was free because the book was already well established and coming out in paperback after being on the NYT best sellers list. Typically I give very little credence to the popularity of a book in assessing the quality but after having tramped my way through the nearly 500 pages of this one I can assert that its popularity is well deserved.

There have been so many reviewers before me that there's little I can say that hasn't already been covered. Trigiani's book is at its heart a romance but only so in the way that all stories drawn from life are at their hearts romances. She encapsulates with incredible skill an entire lifetime and draws us a portrait that makes its way into your soul and is sure to be remembered long after the last page turns.

The author's attention to detail is meticulous without becoming dull or redundant and reminds me strongly of the Dickensian tendency to stop and patiently draw out all the intimate nuances of a scene. I would leave potential readers with two recommendations. Firstly, take the time to read this one but do so with an open mind and let it wash over you. Immerse yourself in it and have patience. Secondly, the book is not to be taken lightly. You cannot go after it in fits and starts. If you cannot read 100 pages at a sitting then read something else until you can. It is a vastly rewarding novel but one that requires utmost and concentrated attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Geographically challenged April 20 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The author seems not to have consulted an atlas. The hero takes a boat from Venice to Le Havre and arrives a day later. Impossible!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very descriptive, a bit sugary Dec 19 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It may be extremely difficult to take a real-life family story and make it compelling while trying to remain true to the people you love. I felt like there was much too much description of places, food and people's thoughts, and not nearly enough action and tension. I loved that she brought in historical figures and places. I just wanted to see the characters dealing with conflict, not talking about it afterwards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 14 2014
The best book I have ever read . Beautiful story and just wonderful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 8 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Started out slowly but became more interesting as the book progressed.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey to nowhere interesting
This book is a frustrating read. Frustrating because it has potential. It's most basic problem is that it's too long - the story could have been much more effectively told in half... Read more
Published 2 months ago by SJM (aka Cookie's Mom)
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
I really enjoyed this book as I could not put it down. I liked the time period and the development of the characters from their young life to when they are mature in their years.
Published 13 months ago by Michelle Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel about Enza, the decision maker
I got this book as a birthday gift from my son who likes to read. At first, I fall in love with its cover: the velvety touch of the paper, the scarlet red gown of the elegant lady,... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Joie2lire
I wanted so much to love this book not only because the author wrote that it was based on her family history, but because the premise for the story held such rich possibilities. Read more
Published 22 months ago by little lady blue
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shoemaker's Wife
I didn't read this book, but I don't have to after reading the two reviews previous to mine~!!! Are these reviews not moderated~?? Read more
Published on April 28 2012 by Joann Bidgood
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing Historical Epic!!
Story Description:

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | April 3, 2012 | Hardcover

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first... Read more
Published on April 8 2012 by Louise Jolly
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