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The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, Aug 21 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (Aug. 21 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061257109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061257100
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #113,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century. Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York's Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind. But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to emigrate to America. Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera . . . and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso. Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change their lives forever.

A riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny, inspired by the author's own family history, The Shoemaker's Wife is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Laura Fabiani TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 26 2012
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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 the time. It was interesting enough to keep me reading, but by the end of the book, I was skimming pages just to be done with it. Adriana needed to find and then trust a decent editor. This story is near and dear to her, being inspired by her grandparents own love story. Perhaps this is why she was unable to let go of parts of it.

The story also suffered from being exaggerated and overly dramatic with little substance. Often, there were rises in conflict that led to very little effect. The book may best be described as an epic journey to nowhere interesting. I say the book had potential because there were nuggets of loveliness within it that should have been featured. The rest should have been cut.

There is some good writing here, though it is inconsistent. A good editor could have resolved the issues and helped Ariana to turn a mediocre and much too lengthy book into an absolute gem of a story. Shame.
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Format: Audio CD 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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