Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers

3.8 40
by Adriana Trigiani
     
 

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As devoted readers of Adriana Trigiani's New York Times bestselling novels know, this "seemingly effortless storyteller" (Boston Globe) frequently draws inspiration from her own family history, in particular from the lives of her two remarkable grandmothers, Lucia Spada Bonicelli (Lucy) and Yolanda Perin Trigiani (Viola). In Don't Sing at the

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Overview

As devoted readers of Adriana Trigiani's New York Times bestselling novels know, this "seemingly effortless storyteller" (Boston Globe) frequently draws inspiration from her own family history, in particular from the lives of her two remarkable grandmothers, Lucia Spada Bonicelli (Lucy) and Yolanda Perin Trigiani (Viola). In Don't Sing at the Table, she reveals how her grandmothers' simple values have shaped her own life, sharing the experiences, humor, and wisdom of her beloved mentors to delight readers of all ages.

Trigiani visits the past to seek answers to the essential questions that define the challenges women face today at work and at home. Don't Sing at the Table is a primer, grandmother to granddaughter, filled with everyday wisdom and life lessons handed down with care and built to last.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Soothingly and with clarity…. Readers will find her strength and optimism helpful, and her legions of loyal fans will enjoy learning more about the women who influenced, inspired, and, according to Trigiani, made possible some of her best-selling fiction.”
Boston Globe
“Delightful, energetic. . . . Trigiani is a seemingly effortless storyteller.”
USA Today
“Dazzling.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Well crafted work with sometime lyrical, sometimes flat-out-funny writing.”
Roanoke Times
“Trigiani has certainly not lost her ability to breathe life into everything she writes.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Adriana Trigiani listens to her readers, then gives them what they want. ”
Publishers Weekly
Fans of novelist Trigiani will be delighted with this guided tour through the author's family history via her grandmothers, Lucia and Viola. She lovingly details the women's lives and recounts the lessons she's learned while offering a fascinating look at U.S. history from the perspective of her Italian-American forebears. Both Lucia and Viola worked hard from an early age, cooking and cleaning among any number of chores, and parlayed their work ethic and expertise into strong careers. Viola started out as a machine operator and, later, co-owned a mill with her husband, while Lucia worked in a factory and then became a seamstress and storefront couturier. Her grandmothers also took pride in passing along wisdom to others; throughout her life, Trigiani benefited from their guidance regarding everything from marriage to money, creativity to religion. She credits them with telling good stories: "I mimicked their work ethic imagining myself in a factory, layering words like tasks until the work was done. I took away more than life lessons from their stories; I made a career out of it." Here, Trigiani combines family and American history, reflections on lives well-lived, and sound advice to excellent effect, as a legacy to her daughter and a remembrance of two inimitable women. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Best-selling author Trigiani (Very Valentine) presents a loving paean to her Italian grandmothers, Viola and Lucy. Both hardworking career women, Viola owned and operated a Pennsylvania clothing factory, and Lucy also ran her own business as a seamstress. Viola is a cantankerous and stern taskmaster who lives by a strict set of rules, has a penchant for Manhattans, snipes groundhogs in her garden with her trusty rifle, and doles out her opinion as she pleases. Immigrant Lucy is more simple and conservative, not enamored of glitz. Trigiani uses their examples to navigate the course of her life and work. The book is at its best when discussing a way of life long gone where privately owned businesses employed local workers to produce quality clothing at affordable prices. Trigiani is pushing the envelope when discussing religion, always a social faux pas, and child rearing, where she completely discounts the father's role.Verdict Minor quibbles aside, there is much warmth in these remembrances, which will resonate with readers who enjoyed strong relationships with their own grandparents and know the value they can bring to our lives.—Mike Rogers, Library Journal

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews

Nostalgic collection by the bestselling author of the Valentine series and Big Stone Gap series.

The author's grandmothers, Lucia Spada and Yolanda "Viola" Perin, both from working-class Italian immigrant backgrounds, knew the score in home economics, maintaining a nice figure, sex and marriage. Trigiani (Brava, Valentine, 2010, etc.) draws on their forthright skills in fashioning a comfortable home for their families in this righteous primer for the virtuous life. Viola grew up on a farm in Delabole, Pa., where her parents began work in the Slate Quarry upon their immigration from Veneto in 1906. Viola met her husband while working at a pants factory in Bangor, Pa., and eventually they started their own mill in Martins Creek, the Yolanda Manufacturing Company, which operated successfully until the late '60s. Viola lived most of her life in an opulent Tudor home in Flicksville, not far from the mill, where she entertained friends, maintained cars "of the moment" and generally lived the good life. Similarly, Lucia, born in Italy, immigrated to New York City with her father in 1917, and found work as a seamstress in a Hoboken, N.J., factory. Relocated with her new Italian husband to Chisholm, Minn., she made a success as a couturiere as well asrunning a shoe shop, which sustained her and her three children after her husband's died when she was 35. What did these hardworking ladies impart to the author, who visited their homes as a child and closely observed them? They both pursued careers while raising their children; they never threw anything away, having both known poverty (when asked why she only owned three dresses, Lucia replied: "How many can I wear at one time?"); they both hadsprezzatura ("effortless style"); they never retired, never remarried and kept up impeccable reputations; and they bought their own homes. Their child-raising skills, moreover, come across as charming if apocryphally rose-colored.

Corny but comforting lessons for readers seeking a simpler way of life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061958953
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
105,633
Product dimensions:
7.94(w) x 5.36(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for fifteen bestsellers, including the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Lucia, Lucia; the Valentine series; the Viola series for young adults; and the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table. Trigiani reaches new heights with All the Stars in the Heavens, an epic tale from the golden age of Hollywood. She is the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary Queens of the Big Time. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown, to be released nationwide on October 9th, 2015. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Place of Birth:
Roseto, Pennsylvania; (Grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia)
Education:
B.A. in Theatre from Saint Mary¿s College
Website:
http://www.adrianatrigiani.com

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Don't Sing at the Table 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
imarose More than 1 year ago
This book is a wealth of knowledge that will enrich everyones life in one way or another. Grandmothers, in this case, Ms. Trigiani's, having lived their lives using common and uncommon sense as the case may be, impart their wisdom to those who came after them. Italian grandmothers always feel an obligation to teach whether it be how to make a pie or how to boil water for pasta. No matter what your ethnic background grandmothers always have great advice to offer since they've experienced life and all that goes with it. Treasure every word they say because it's as pertinent in this day and age as it was in theirs. DON'T SING AT THE TABLE is much more than just about not singing. It is a treasury of life significantly enhanced by the author's recollections and understanding - and love - of her grandmothers' experiences in their lives and of her applying them to her life today. She was fortunate to have had first hand instruction from grandmothers, Lucy and Viola, and now we're the lucky recipients of all that she recalls. What impressed me the most - because I, too, had sage Italian grandmothers - was Ms. Trigiani's emphasis on how we react to situations in life. I think a lot if not all of the end results are due to our reactions. Don't pass up this true to life, non fiction work of art.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Fans of Adriana Trigiani's novels will recognize the women in her non-fiction book- her grandmothers Lucy and Viola have appeared in many of the characters in her fiction. Not only does Trigiani do a marvelous job of recounting the fascinating life stories of these women, she uses their lives to write a primer for living your own life. Women like Lucy and Viola are the people who made this country great, and they jump off the pages in this delightful book. They have more than their fair share of troubles, (both of them are widowed), but their sheer will and strength of character will inspire other women to persevere and succeed as they did. Although she is an Italian immigrant, Lucy moves to Minnesota and takes on the stoic characteristics of American midwesterners. She loses her husband at an early age and raises her three children on her own, all while running her own business. Viola was a pistol, running her own clothing factory, raising her family, entertaining friends in her lovely home, traveling. Both women had terrific advice for their granddaughter, and the way that Trigiani structures the book, first telling their life stories, then sharing the how living their lives were examples we could all follow today, makes this book so enjoyable. DON'T SING AT THE TABLE would make a great gift for the women in your life, both those starting out and those whose wisdom should be shared with their own families.
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MBAudrey More than 1 year ago
A cherished trip down memory lane for Trigiani. An account of generations before that many will enjoy, Italian descent or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting how the author's grandmothers lived and were independent in an era when this was not that common, but not a great read.
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Humbee More than 1 year ago
What a treasure of a small book this is. I stayed up into the wee hours of the night because I just couldn't tear myself away from the story of Viola and Lucy and how they operated in the world. To say that Adriana Trigiani benefited from having them as grandmothers is an understatement. I loved that both grandmothers had a strong interest in some area of dressmaking. Viola in the heart and hard work of factory sewing, and then her own blouse-making business; and Lucy in her devotion to clients and perfection when she became a "storefront couturier." Talented and beautiful women, they understood the value and power behind a women dressed well in perfectly fitted, classic clothing. They also understood that keeping up their skin/beauty routine, social standing and family reputations were tantamount to good life, good health and good self-esteem; among other important things. It seems Adriana learned so much from them about integrity and self-respect, there's no doubt about that. But, she also learned the value of manners, of going after what you want, of having a purpose in life, of minding your reputation. The specifics of these lessons are ones you'll be delighted to read. I thought it was delightful and serious at the same time to read Lucy's lessons first on romantic love, then on keeping a marriage strong. Hers is practical wisdom. Her instructions on raising children are some we absolutely could use today. I particularly liked her dictum never to burden a child with adult problems. That lesson alone would change the mental health of so many children in these times. There is so much to this book. It's humorous, it's character building, it's serious and it's a lesson book on how to live a life with wisdom. What a blessing Adriana Trigiani had in these two lovely women. No wonder she's a bestselling author with fragments of these things to share with her readers. Those of us who had grandmothers like Viola and Lucy will enjoy reading about them and, possibly, taking a nostalgic trip back to our own childhoods. Those of you who didn't have grandmothers like them will gain something very special in the reading. 5 perfectly heartwarming stars
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hikermom More than 1 year ago
For someone who remembers generations of their family. This is a wonderful read. I have read the majority of her books and like her writing style.
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