The Shoemaker's Wife

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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 ...

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The Shoemaker's Wife

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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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

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.

Sessalee Hensley

USA Today
“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.”
Huffington Post
“The breathtaking… historical novel sparkles in exquisite details and vivid descriptions.”
“[A] great read….Bella.”
Washington Post Book World
“Pure pleasure . . . full-bodied and elegantly written.”
Providence Journal
“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.”
Washington Post
…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.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“You’ll have trouble putting this novel down.”
Kathryn Stockett
“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.”
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
Publishers Weekly
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)
People Magazine
"[A] great read….Bella."
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061257100
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 33,672
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times bestseller The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and 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. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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Read an Excerpt

The Shoemaker's Wife

By Adriana Trigiani

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2012 Adriana Trigiani
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-125710-0




Un Anello d'oro

The scalloped hem of Caterina Lazzari's blue velvet coat grazed the fresh fallen snow, leaving a pale pink path on the bricks as she walked across the empty piazza. The only sound was the soft, rhythmic sweep of her footsteps, like hands dusting flour across an old wooden cutting board. All around her, the Italian Alps loomed like silver daggers against a pewter sky. The rising winter sun, a pinprick of gold buried in the expanse of gray, barely flickered. In the first light of morning, dressed in blue, Caterina looked like a bird.

She turned, exhaling a long breath into the cold winter air.

"Ciro?" she called out. "Eduardo!"

She heard her sons' laughter echo across the empty colonnade, but couldn't place them. She surveyed the columns of the open portico. This wasn't a morning for hide and seek, or for playing games. She called to them again. Her mind swam with all she had accomplished, big chores and small errands, attending to a slew of overwhelming details, documents filed and keys returned, all the while stretching the few lire she had left to meet her obligations.

The first stage of widowhood is paperwork.

Caterina had never imagined she would be standing here alone, on the first day of 1905, with nothing before her but the small hope of eventual reinvention. Every single promise made to her had been broken.

Caterina looked up as a window on the second floor of the shoe shop opened and an old woman shook a rag rug out into the cold air. Caterina caught her eye. The woman looked away, pulled the rug back inside, and slammed the window shut.

Her younger son, Ciro, peered around one of the columns. His blue-green eyes were the exact color of his father's, as deep and clear as the water of Sestri Levante. At ten years old, he was a replica of Carlo Lazzari, with big hands and feet and thick sandy brown hair. He was the strongest boy in Vilminore. When the village children went down into the valley to collect sticks bundled to sell for kindling, Ciro always had the heaviest haul strapped to his back because he could carry it.

Caterina felt a pang whenever she looked at him; in Ciro's face was all she had lost and would never recover. "Here." She pointed to the ground beside her black leather boot. "Now."

Ciro picked up his father's leather duffel and, running to his mother, called to his brother, who hid behind the statuary.

Eduardo, at eleven, resembled his mother's people, the Montini family, dark eyed, tall, and willowy. He too picked up his satchel and ran to join them.

At the foot of the mountain, in the city of Bergamo, where Caterina had been born thirty-two years ago, the Montini family had set up a printing press that churned out linen writing paper, engraved calling cards, and small books in a shop on Via Borgo Palazzo. They had a house and a garden. As she closed her eyes, she saw her parents sitting at an alfresco table under their grape arbor, eating ricotta and honey sandwiches on thick, fresh bread. Caterina remembered all they were and all they had.

The boys dropped their suitcases in the snow.

"Sorry, Mama," Ciro said. He looked up at his mother and knew for certain that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her skin had the scent of peaches and felt like satin. His mother's long hair fell into soft, romantic waves, and ever since he could remember, as he lay in her arms, he had twisted a lock until it became a single shiny black rope.

"You look pretty," Ciro said earnestly. Whenever Caterina was sad, he tried to cheer her up with compliments.

Caterina smiled. "Every son thinks his mother is beautiful." Her cheeks turned pink in the cold as the tip of her aquiline nose turned bright red. "Even when she isn't."

Caterina fished in her purse for a small mirror and a chamois puff. The tip of red disappeared as she powdered it. She pursed her lips and looked down at her boys with a critical eye. She straightened Eduardo's collar, and pulled Ciro's coat sleeve over his wrist. The coat was too small for him, and no amount of pulling would add the two inches at the cuff to make it fit properly. "You just keep growing, Ciro."

"I'm sorry, Mama."

She remembered when she had their coats made for them, along with pin-cord trousers and white cotton shirts. There had been tufted blankets in their cribs when they were born, a layette of soft cotton gowns with pearl buttons. Wooden toys. Picture books. Her sons had long outgrown the clothes, and there was no replacing them.

Eduardo had one pair of wool pants and a coat given to him by a neighbor. Ciro wore the clean but ill-fitting clothes of his father, the hems on the work pants three inches deep, tacked with ragged stitches because sewing was not one of Caterina's talents. Ciro's belt was tightened on the last grommet, but still too loose to function properly. "Where are we going, Mama?" Ciro asked as he followed his mother. "She told you a hundred times. You don't listen." Eduardo lifted his brother's duffel and carried it.

"You must listen for him," Caterina reminded Eduardo.

"We're going to stay at the convent of San Nicola."

"Why do we have to live with nuns?" Ciro complained.

Caterina turned and faced her sons. They looked up at her, hoping for an explanation that would make sense of all the mysterious goings-on of the past few days. They weren't even sure what questions to ask, or what information they needed to know, but they were certain there must have been some reason behind Mama's strange behavior. She had been anxious. She wept through the night when she thought her sons were asleep. She had written lots of letters, more in the last week than they could ever remember her writing.

Caterina knew that if she shared the truth, she would have failed them. A good mother should never knowingly fail her children, not when she is all they have left in the world. Besides, in the years to come, Ciro would remember only the facts, while Eduardo would paint them with a soft brush. Neither version would be true, so what did it matter? Caterina could not bear the responsibility of making every decision alone. In the fog of grief, she had to be sensible, and think of every possible alternative for her boys. In her mental state, she could not take care of her sons, and she knew it. She made lists of names, recalling every contact in her family's past and her husband's, any name that might be helpful. She scanned the list, knowing many of them probably needed as much help as she did. Years of poverty had depleted the region, and forced many to move down to Bergamo and Milan in search of work.

After much thought, she remembered that her father had printed missals for every parish in the Lombardy region, and as far south as Milan. He had donated his services as an indulgence to the Holy Roman Church, expecting no payment in return. Caterina used the old favor to secure a place for her sons with the sisters of San Nicola.

Caterina placed a hand on each of their shoulders.

"Listen to me. This is the most important thing I will ever tell you. Do as you're told. Do whatever the nuns ask you to do. Do it well. You must also do more than they ask of you. Anticipate. Look around. Do chores before the sisters ask.

"When Sister asks you to gather wood, do it immediately. No complaining! Help one another - make yourselves indispensable. "Chop the wood, carry it inside, and build the fire without asking. Check the damper before lighting the kindling. And when the fire is out, clean the ash pit and close the flue. Sweep up so it looks like a picture. Prepare the hearth for the next fire with dry logs and kindling. Put the broom and the dustpan and the poker away. Don't wait for Sister to remind you.

"Make yourselves useful and stay out of trouble. Be pious and pray. Sit in the front pew during mass and sit at the farthest end of the bench during dinner. Take your portions last, and never seconds. You are there because of their kindness, not because I could pay them to keep you. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Mama," Eduardo said.

Caterina placed her hand on Eduardo's face and smiled. He put his arm around his mother's waist and held on tight. Then she pulled Cairo close. Her soft coat felt good against his face. "I know you can be good." "I can't," Ciro sputtered, as he pulled away from his mother's embrace, "and I won't."


"This is a bad idea, Mama. We don't belong there," Ciro pleaded.

"We have no place to stay," Eduardo said practically. "We belong wherever Mama puts us."

"Listen to your brother. This is the best I can do right now. When summer comes, I will come up the mountain and take you home."

"Back to our house?" Ciro asked.

"No. Somewhere new. Maybe we'll move up the mountain to Endine."

"Papa took us to the lake there."

"Yes, the town with the lake. Remember?"

The boys nodded that they did. Eduardo rubbed his hands together to warm them. They were rough and pink from the cold.

"Here. Take my gloves." Caterina removed her elbow length black gloves.

She helped Eduardo's hands into them, pulling them up and under his short sleeves. "Better?"

Eduardo closed his eyes; the heat from his mother's gloves traveled up his arms and through his entire body until he was enveloped in her warmth. He pushed his hair back with his hand, the scent of the brushed cotton, clean lemon and freesia, reassuring him.

"What do you have for me, Mama?" Ciro asked.

"You have Papa's gloves to keep you warm." She smiled. "But you want something of Mama's too?"


"Give me your hand."

Ciro pulled his father's leather glove off with his teeth.

Caterina slid a gold signet ring off her smallest finger and placed it on Ciro's ring finger. "This was given to me by my papa."

Ciro looked down at the ring. A swirling, artful C in an oval of heavy yellow gold gleamed in the early morning light. He closed his fist, the gold band still warm from his mother's hand.

The stone facade of the convent of San Nicola was forbidding. Grand pilasters topped with statues of saints wearing expressions of hollow grief towered over the walkway. The thick walnut door had a sharp peak like a bishop's hat, Eduardo observed as he pushed the door open. Caterina and Ciro followed him inside into a small vestibule. They stomped the snow off their shoes on a mat made of woven driftwood branches.

Caterina reached up and rang a small brass bell on a chain.

"They're probably praying. That's all they do in here. Pray all day," Ciro said as he peered through a crack in the door.

"How do you know what they do?" Eduardo asked.

The door opened. Sister Domenica looked down at the boys, sizing them up.

She was short and shaped like a dinner bell. Her black and white habit with a full skirt made her seem wider still. She placed her hands on her hips.

"I'm Signora Lazzari," Caterina said. "These are my sons. Eduardo and Ciro." Eduardo bowed to the nun. Ciro ducked his head quickly as if saying a fast prayer. Really, it was the mole on Sister's chin he wished to pray away.

"Follow me," the nun said.

Sister Domenica pointed to a bench, indicating where the boys should sit and wait. Caterina followed Sister into another room behind a thick wooden door, closing it behind her. Eduardo stared straight ahead while Ciro craned his neck, looking around.

"She's signing us away," Ciro whispered. "Just like Papa's saddle."

"That's not true," his brother whispered back.

Ciro inspected the foyer, a round room with two deep alcoves, one holding a shrine to Mary, the Blessed Mother, and the other, to Saint Francis of Assisi. Mary definitely had more votive candles lit at her feet. Ciro figured it meant you could always count on a woman. He took a deep breath. "I'm hungry."

"You're always hungry."

"I can't help it."

"Don't think about it."

"It's all I think about."

"You have a simple mind."

"No, I don't. Just because I'm strong, doesn't mean I'm stupid."

"I didn't say you were stupid. You're simple."

The scent of fresh vanilla and sweet butter filled the convent.

Ciro closed his eyes and inhaled. He really was hungry. "Is this like the story Mama told us about the soldiers who got lost in the desert and saw a waterfall where there was none?" Ciro stood to follow the scent. He peered around the wall. "Or is there a cake baking somewhere?"

"Sit down," Eduardo ordered.

Ciro ignored him and walked down the long corridor.

"Get back here!" Eduardo whispered.

The walnut doors along the arcade were closed, and streams of faint light came through the overhead transoms. At the far end of the hallway, through a glass door, Ciro saw a cloister connecting the main convent to the workhouses. He ran down the arcade toward the light. When he made it to the door, he looked through the glass and saw a barren patch of earth, probably a garden, hemmed by a dense gnarl of gray fig trees dusted with snow.

Excerpted from The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Copyright © 2012 by Adriana Trigiani. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

Kathryn Stockett interviews Adriana Trigiani

KS: This is by far your most epic novel to date. How long did it take you to write The Shoemaker's Wife?
AT: I worked on this story for over twenty years as I wrote scripts and novels and had my own family. There are scraps of paper, dinner napkins, and bills with timelines and notes scrawled across them. There are old notebooks filled with my grandmother's musings from 1985. I collected train tickets, copies of ships' manifests, and a silk tag with my grandmother's name from garments she had created. I traveled as far as the Italian Alps and as close as the few blocks it takes me to walk to Little Italy in New York City to capture the historical aspects of the story. All of this went into the novel. It was a delicious gestation period.

KS: This is a novel, but it is inspired by a true story—a family story, right?
AT: Yes—my grandparents, Lucia and Carlo. Their love was a dance with fate. It is riddled with near misses against a landscape of such massive world events that it's a wonder they got together at all. My challenge was to present their world to the reader so it might feel it was happening in the moment. I wanted the reader to have the experience I had when stories were told to me by the woman who lived them.

KS: The novel takes place during the first half of the twentieth century—what is so compelling about this period of time to you?
AT: The cusp of the twentieth century was a time everything was new—cars, phones, planes, electricity, even sportswear, and in each innovation was a kind of explosive potential. No one could predict where all the inventions would lead, people only knew that change was unavoidable.

My grandparents were delighted every time America presented them with something they had never seen before. And my grandparents' sense of wonder never left them, so I tried not to let it leave the page, be it a cross-country train ride or the first snap of the bobbin on an electric Singer sewing machine.

KS: Through the remarkable story of Enza and Ciro, your novel tells the larger story of the immigrant experience in America.
AT: What a gift immigrants were and are to this country! They bring their talents and loyalty and make our country even greater. My grandparents were proud to be new Americans. Assimilation was not about copying an American ideal, but aspiring to their own version of it. The highest compliment you could pay a fellow immigrant was: he (or she) was a hard worker. I hear the phrase work like an immigrant said, but really, it's bigger than that—we must also dream like immigrants.

KS: The Shoemaker's Wife seamlessly brings together fictional characters and historical figures—how did the wonderful Caruso enter the novel?
AT: It started with a three-foot stack of vinyl records—my grandmother Lucia's collection of Caruso. Her absolute devotion to The Great Voice lasted her whole life long. I knew, in order to write this novel, I had to fall in love with Caruso too, because he sang the score of my grandparents' love affair.

When Lucia passed, I went to my first opera, seeking understanding and comfort. As the music washed over me, I began to understand why my grandmother was such a fan. The words were Italian, and the emotions were big; nothing was left unexpressed in the music. If only life were that way.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 505 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 506 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 15, 2012

    An Epic Tale of a Forgotten Era

    Adriana Trigiani has more than proven herself as an outstanding author & storyteller, however with The Shoemaker's Wife, she has brought home to us an important era in history that has been almost completely forgotten. Adriana's novel reminds us of the true character of people who immigrated to America from Europe during the mass migration of early 1900s. This novel parallels the lives of 2 people, Ciro & Enza, who were born just miles apart in the Italian Alps, and met only once during a tragic time in Enza's life. It was a lasting impression on both, however, both were forced by circumstances to leave for America, neither expected to see each other again.

    As an Italian American who had a grandmother, grandfather & many great-aunts and uncles who immigrated to the United States during that time, I could see each of the women in Enza, the heroine in The Shoemakers wife. Enza is a woman who, because she is the oldest child, takes on responsibilities many of us today cannot relate to. Coming to America with her father while still in her mid-teens was the only option she had to secure the financial stability of the family.

    I loved everything about Ciro. He is light-hearted, kind and lovable throughout the novel. In the early stages of his life, Ciro & his brother Eduardo are brought to the convent by their mother after their father was killed in a mining accident America. Because of health and financial issues, their mother could no longer care for them. The first day at the convent, Ciro found a way to charm the nuns, and makes a potentially bad situation a good experience. The relationship between the brothers is very touching, with Eduardo, the serious brother, feeling responsible for his younger brother. Both of their lives changed again by something Ciro accidentally witnesses, after doing his duties at the church. He is sent to America to live with a relative of one of the nuns, where he learned to craft of making shoes, while his brother was sent to become a priest.

    The novel takes you through Italy, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, and back to Italy one more time. There are many great relationships that developed throughout the novel. One of my favorites was the deep lifelong friendship between Enza & Laura, a young Irish-American Enza meets at the factory. Like Enza, Laura is a highly talented seamstress. Through both of their talents and Enza's tenacious personality, they find jobs working on costumes for opera singer Caruso. During their time with Caruso, they learn of the better things in life. Romance comes to Enza during these years, and finding Ciro once more keeps you wondering what will happen next.

    What I enjoyed about the book was that I not only related to many of the characters, but it clearly brought out the pride and precision in everything the people of that era did, from working to how they lived in their homes. These immigrants came to America with skills and talents. Their work ethic was beyond normal expectations. Plus they had a love for their culture, and respect for the cultures of those from other countries. They loved their families, and knew that whatever they did would affect generations that followed them. Many assimilated into the culture of the new world (especially during World War 1, when many of the male immigrants felt it was their duty to serve), and developed friendships with other immigrants from various nations as well as Americans. This was the generation,

    41 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    loved the story line, so naturally had to get the this book. It

    loved the story line, so naturally had to get the this book. It did not disappoint!

    27 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2012

    Amazing book!

    After I finished this book, I turned to my husband and said, “I think this is the saddest book I have ever read.” He replied, “Well I did have to keep handing you Kleenex.” It’s true, I cried so much during this book that I gave myself a headache. Ms. Trigiani made the story so moving and so believable that I felt all the emotions that the characters were feeling throughout the story, and even though I cried, this is a good thing.

    The plot kept me thoroughly engaged the entire time; I could barely put the book down. I wanted to see what would happen next for Ciro and Enza. I can’t really say this book had a happy ending; it was a totally different ending than I would have expected. It is not at all your traditional love story, though it is one overall. The plot has many twists and turns and a bunch of times you just want to yell at Ciro, “Wake up you fool, what are you thinking!” Ms. Trigiani wrote an amazing book about love, friendship, war, immigrants in America, and loss. I am in love. This is one of my favorite books I have read recently. It was moving and powerful. It was sad and happy at the same time.

    Ms. Trigiani wrote a magnificent piece on the trials and tribulations of Italian Immigrants who came to America in the early 1900’s, one of my favorite topics since I am an IBM (Italian by marriage) and grew up in NYS where the Italian influence is still strong today. Many of the foods Enza talked about made me smile and think of my husband’s Sicilian family and the recipes I was given by them, some on our wedding day, like the “famous” chocolate cinnamon clove cookies that have been in his family for generations, and the ones I was allowed to have once we moved away and I had proven myself an adequate cook, such as cutlets. Reading this book also made me very hungry for food I have either had to learn to make myself, or go without since we moved away, such as gnocchi, though we make ours in red sauce. Oh and I do know how to pronounce gnocchi properly even though I am German, it was part of my unofficial Italian education upon marriage.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone. There is a tiny bit of sex, but it is not graphic and they are married if that makes a difference. This book gives the reader a view of life for an immigrant that is filled with history, but is not written in a history book style. This book is a love story, but is also filled with much sadness and has many ups and down, emotionally, throughout the story. This is a great book to take on a vacation, but it is not an entirely lighthearted read, it makes you think a bit. Make sure to keep the tissues close by.

    I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.

    Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com

    24 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Beautifully written

    What a wonderful story, I could smell the air, hear the music , and eat the pasta ! I laugh, I cried, and all the while not wanting it to end. There is nothing better than a book that can take you on an adventure, never having to leave your living room!

    23 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012


    Move over great Italian artists and make room for Adriana Trigiani. She has more than proved herself with THE SHOEMAKER'S WIFE. This novel will be a classic for all time and will be enjoyed by generations to come. From what she says this has been in the making for twenty years and aren't we lucky she persevered! Enrico Caruso would love her writing abilities maybe more than her antipasto if he was here among us. I have been following Ms. Trigiani's career for about ten years and while I have loved every one of her novels - and even her cookbook - this book is her best yet. Every page of THE SHOEMAKER'S WIFE held my interest with historical facts, geographical lessons, cultural involvements, etc. but the pulsating passion of love and devotion for family captures the greatness of Ms.Trigiani's writing. While this is a novel we learn about the almost-didn't- happen destiny of the author's grandparents on her mother's side. When you are fortunate enough to feast your eyes on the beautiful cover art it will lead you to a fascinating epic within its pages - one you will savor and not soon forget.

    23 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Excellent book-- couldn't put it down!

    Like, most everyone, I really enjoyed this book. I started reading this book while on airplane--was trying to hold back tears-- i think i scared the lady sitting next to me. Well written story. I appreciated that it was a clean book-- no obscene language or sexual undertones. I cried (alot) and laughed alot---I like reading books that make me feel happy. Will recommend it to all my friends

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    I absolutely loved this book. I enjoy reading about other natio

    I absolutely loved this book. I enjoy reading about other nationalities and their customs. I have about 30 more pages to go and I hate for it to end but want to come to the conclusion. The characters were wonderful. Laughing and crying at the same time.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2012

    This book was wonderful, I want to be more like Enza, the heroin

    This book was wonderful, I want to be more like Enza, the heroine. She is strong, compassionate, reliable, and practical. This is a story that had I read it at 20, I would have said it was a good story. Having read it with a little life behind me; it is wonderful. When I reread it, having experienced more will be exquisite. If you are looking for strong characters and a belief in the human spirit I highly recommend this book.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    What a sweet surprise! This is an epic tale that engulfs the re

    What a sweet surprise! This is an epic tale that engulfs the reader. The characters are well-drawn, and their plights are believable, understandable, and richly described. I wished that the book had concentrated more on Ciro and Enza's adult life as opposed to their childhoods. I thought their experiences and lives in NYC and Minnesota were captivating and that the ending was a bit rushed. Still, it was a beautiful book and I savored every word. I hated to see it end.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL BOOK!! I wished that this book didn't ha

    I wished that this book didn't have to end. I enjoyed all the characters and felt like I knew them. It swept me away into another time and era. I love all of Ms. Trigiani's books.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013


    Childish with no depth at all

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    First Nook Color Purchase

    Based on the true story of the author's family, this book is beautifully written. It filled with earnest, lively characters with character. These people immigrated to the United States and became a part of America's greatest generation. Their story is romantic and inspiring, and it's real - no storybook ending. It's simply life. The challenges, loss, adventures, and love of these people make it a page-turner in a charming way. I look forward to eventually looking at other books by Mrs. Trigiani.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2012

    Loved this book. The characters seemed so real. The storyline ke

    Loved this book. The characters seemed so real. The storyline kept you wanting to read more. I felt a connection to the characters as my grandparents migrated to the United States from Italy, as did my father. Beautifully written story. You won't be disappointed.
    I want to read more of this author's books as she tells a well written story line.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    In Love

    One of the best books that I have read in a long time!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Loved this book

    I loved this book. One the best books i have ever read. I enjoyed all the italian details. I loved how it spaned meny years and how all the characters fully developed. Great read. I highly recomend.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012


    What was it really like, this journey to America? Why did our grandparents and great-grandparents leave in the first place? Did they find the streets paved with gold? This fascinating story of two young immigrants from the same valley in northern Italy, destined to find each other and the happiness their love brings in the New World, will keep you up late and riveted as you follow them in their journey. I'm a genealogist, and this one really brought all those ancestors to life for me. Don't miss this one. A real winner.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2012

    When a book is so good, you want to read it slow and savor each

    When a book is so good, you want to read it slow and savor each word. You know you have a keeper! Whether you have read Trigiani’s books before or not, you should definitely read this one. The character development and story is one you will remember long after you finish reading. This is the best of Trigiani.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching but also heart-warming s

    This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching but also heart-warming story taking place in the late1800’s in Italy on to 1900s in America. This is Enza and Ciro’s journey through poverty. They meet when Enza’s young sister dies as Ciro is hired to dig the grave. Enza is the oldest and has a lot of responsibility thrust on her. Ciro is cared for by nuns after his dad dies and leaves his mom devastated. Ciro is suddenly transported to America without Enza’s knowledge but as luck would have it Enza finds herself also in America for work. It’s the American dream where Europeans make good on the streets of gold in America. Family, respect and a good moral life are all important…Wonderful book!!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Lovely tale...swept me away to another time and different places

    Lovely tale...swept me away to another time and different places!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012


    Halcyon views of village life in Alpine Italy; reflections of a vibrant metropolitan New York City, circa 1915–1920; warm and insightful glimpses into the early 20th century European immigrant experience; and tantalizing, behind-the-scenes, peeks at the New York Metropolitan Opera of Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar; combine to help make, ‘The Shoemaker’s Wife,’ by Adriana Trigiani a delightful read.

    Recommendation: An excellent book club read.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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