Set in Italy and America in the early 1900s, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a beautifully written novel about love, family, and inevitable changes. Ciro and Eduardo lost their father at a young age and their mother suffered from depression so severe that she had to leave her boys in a convent. Eduardo was scholarly and pious, but Ciro was a lover of beauty and women, and he ached deeply for a family of his own. Thrown out of the convent by a corrupt priest, Ciro was forced to move to America to apprentice a shoemaker.
Enza grew up with a house full of children near Ciro’s convent in Italy. As the oldest, she often found herself in a mothering role. Her sense of independence and the need to protect her family through difficult times drove her to move to America to find work. The novel follows the lives of Ciro and Enza as they work their way through their youth, Ciro as a shoemaker and Enza as a seamstress, and as they eventually build a live together.
The Shoemaker’s Wife is a feel good novel. Despite tragedy, everything seems to turn out all right. The end was perfectly wrapped up and didn’t go on too long like other historicals. Adriana Trigiani is a masterful storyteller. She crafts a story that lasts an entire lifetime, and you feel like you’ve aged with the characters. I finished this last night fighting back tears. I loved the descriptions of food, fashion, and the opera—Trigiani paints such a vivid picture.
OK, I’m raving, so why didn’t I give this 4 stars? Well, when I was finished I only thought, that was good. The only reason I can think of to explain why I didn’t love it is that it didn’t change the way I think about anything. For me, a lot of historical novels are like that. I like historicals because I learn things from them and appreciate their descriptions and plots. However, they rarely have stories that stick with me, whereas novels like Voyage in the Dark (1930s) or The Things They Carried (1960s) are cerebral, character driven (rather than plot driven) novels that I will never stop thinking about.
I felt similarly about The Help, which was a bestseller and a book that I enjoyed reading. However, the whole time I kept thinking any book by Morrison or story by Hurston blows this book out of the water. Maybe this is my English major snob talking?
Anyway, if you enjoy historical novels, I think you will love this one! But if you’re into more philosophical or psychological novels, you might want to pass.
About Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo, she has also written the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. Her books have been published in thirty-six countries, and she has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Visit her website for more info!
Adriana’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, August 21t: The Written World
Wednesday, August 22nd: The Lost Entwife
Friday, August 31st: Booktalk & More
Monday, September 3rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, September 4th: The Well-Read Wife
Wednesday, September 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, September 6th: Oh! Paper Pages
Monday, September 10th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, September 11th: Paperspines
Wednesday, September 12th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, September 13th: Shall Write
Friday, Septebmer 14th: Drey’s Library
Tuesday, September 18th: My Bookshelf
Friday, September 21st: Book Reviews by Molly
Friday, September 21st: Teresa’s Reading Corner
TBD: Twisting the Lens
TBD: Stiletto Storytime