Adriana Trigiani's novels are always comforting and full of reflection. They are sometimes historical, ever capturing the essence of their geographical setting, and always there is the Italian connection that calls the reader to pack up and go explore the villages that she describes.
The Shoemaker's Wife is perhaps the best so far. Set both in the northern Italian alps and later New York City and Minnesota, the novel spans the lifetime of Enza and Ciro, two characters who are far too full of goodness, talent, industry and beauty to be real (or are they?). But isn't that what a perfect story does, transport us to some world beyond our possibility so that we be lost for a while as we visit?
I cannot spoil this novel by describing where it goes and how it ends. But the places it takes us at the turn of the century in the early 1900's are so vivid that we can breath the Italian mountain air and see the wildflowers in bloom. And we can see and even hear the best and worst of New York City during this period from ill-treated immigrant working conditions to the splendor of the Metropolitan Opera and the great Caruso. The events illuminate the finest of the art of historical seamstress work and high fashion and shoemaking, as the title describes. And we can celebrate success but cry with heart-break as we are taken through the full circles of life.
As in all of Trigiani's novels, there is a thread of romance, but the female characters are strong career women who know their own minds. Her novels are peopled with characters that we would like to know or even want to be. They start with the Big Stone Gap series set in the Appalachian mountains where she grew up and continue on through many best-selling others including a young adult novel Viola in Real Life. As well as being a best-selling author, she is a playwright, screen writer, television writer and producer and so much more. So wide is her fan base that she has even turned tour organizer, taking groups to the places she writes of.
The Shoemaker's Wife is as rich in text as its cover, a glorious read.
Details of her biography and many accomplishments can be found on her website here.