Adriana Trigiana's richly layered historical tale of star-crossed lovers spans a continent, several misunderstandings and fateful separations, but resolves in a pleasing, graceful way. Ciro and Enza, the pair at its heart, are young villagers who don't meet until they are both teenagers. Their youthful romance is nipped in the bud when Ciro catches a local priest in something best left unseen. Forced to flee, he leaves for America without telling Enza the reason. Years later, she and her family also emigrate, but settling in Hoboken, she does not know that Ciro, a shoemaker's apprentice in Greenwich Village, is only a river away. They reunite, but fate is still against them: Ciro has volunteered for World War I. What follows next brings the story to an operatic conclusion. Enthralling to read; easy to recommend.
Trigiani's page-turning newest (after Viola in the Spotlight) is a sweeping saga that stretches across the World Wars, from Italy to America and back again. Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravenelli grew up in nearby villages in Italy, but only meet when Ciro is hired to dig the grave for Enza's baby sister. Though they come from different backgrounds—Enza is the eldest daughter in a family of eight, while Ciro and his brother are raised by nuns after their father's death and mother's mental breakdown—the two nevertheless bond. But when Ciro catches a priest embracing a young girl, he is banished from the convent and must depart for New York City, where he apprentices as a shoemaker. Soon thereafter, Enza and her father journey to the U.S. to send money home to their struggling family. There, Enza becomes a talented seamstress and gets involved in the lushly detailed New York opera scene by making costumes for the Met. While in New York, Enza and Ciro reconnect, but Ciro is soon swept away to fight in WWI. When he returns and seeks Enza's hand in marriage, Enza, who is set to be betrothed to another man, must now weigh her possible futures: "A life with Ciro would be about family, a life with Vito would be about her." 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. (May)
Italian teenagers Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli feel an instant romantic connection when they first meet in the Alps in 1908, but their budding relationship is interrupted when Ciro must quickly leave Italy after learning a local priest's shameful secret. The two meet again years later in New York City, where Ciro works as an apprentice to a shoemaker and Enza enjoys the elegant life of a seamstress at the opulent Metropolitan Opera. The couple's trials continue as the story takes them to the harsh winters of Minnesota and through the horrors of two world wars, helping them both finally to realize fully the true value of love and family. While her plot is somewhat predictable, popular novelist Trigiani (Lucia, Lucia) has created two immensely likable main characters, and it's a particular pleasure to root for Enza, a caring but independent woman who loves Ciro but also has dreams of her own. VERDICT 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. [Seven-city tour; library marketing; see Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]—Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL
Despite its girth, Trigiani's latest saga of Italian life lies flat on the page. A portrait of early 20th-century Italian immigration, the story starts with two children in the Italian Alps. In one mountain village, serious, hardworking Enza lives with her large family; in another, rascal Ciro and his brother Eduardo are orphans at the convent. When 16-year-old Ciro travels to Enza's village to dig the grave of her little sister, the two meet for the first time, and Enza falls in love. But soon after, Ciro is sent to America (he caught the priest kissing a girl) to apprentice as a shoemaker. Trigiani's novels often bask in Italian culture, and this latest is no exception, taking place during the great wave of Italian immigration. New York's Little Italy is a joyous place, and handsome, outgoing Ciro fits right in. A few years later, Enza and her father go to America (just to make enough money to dig their family out of poverty), and Ciro and Enza briefly meet again. Enza, a talented seamstress, first works in a factory, and then finds her way to becoming a costumer at the Metropolitan Opera House. Life at the Met is a dream for Enza as she works for the great Caruso. Meanwhile, World War I has begun and Ciro leaves behind his comfortable life at the shop (and all the beauties) on Mulberry Street to enlist. In the trenches, he dreams about Enza (though why he never bothered with her before is unclear) while she is getting ready to marry another. Love wins out as Ciro and Enza marry then move to Minnesota to start a business and a family. Much more happens, but Trigiani's wide rush of plot hardly makes up for a dull heroine and a novel filled with workaday prose. A long list of life events, without the emotional depth to draw readers in.
Katherine A. Powers
…an old-fashioned, romantic tale of two star-tangled lovers, Enza Ravanelli and Ciro Lazzari. Beginning in the Italian Alps, the story travels by various routes to New York's Little Italy, a Hoboken factory, backstage at the Metropolitan Opera, Minnesota's Iron Range and the trenches of France. A love story, yes, but also a paean to artisanal work, food, friendship and family…Trigliani is a master of palpable and visual detail: She brings to vivid life the terrible ocean crossings, the tribulation of getting through immigration control at Ellis Island, and the whole look, feel and material reality of the New World.
The Washington Post
“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.”
"[A] great read….Bella."
“[A] great read….Bella.”
“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.”
“The breathtaking… historical novel sparkles in exquisite details and vivid descriptions.”
Washington Post Book World
“Pure pleasure . . . full-bodied and elegantly written.”
“The novel is a sweeping epic, but at its heart, it’s a love story. It speaks to an era of possibilities.”
“This expansive epic, which seems tailor-made for a miniseries, manages to feel both old-fashioned and thoroughly contemporary…[an] irresistible love story.”
…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.
“You’ll have trouble putting this novel down.”