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The Shoemaker's Wife

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847378927
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ome
  • Publication date: 5/28/2012

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani
An award-winning playwright, TV writer, and documentary filmmaker, Adriana Trigiani is especially known for her bestselling novels that explore Italian-American families living and loving in America's heartland, most notably her beloved Big Stone Gap trilogy.

Biography

As her squadrons of fans already know, Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, a coal-mining town in southwest Virginia that became the setting for her first three novels. The Big Stone Gap books feature Southern storytelling with a twist: a heroine of Italian descent, like Trigiani, who attended St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, like Trigiani. But the series isn't autobiographical -- the narrator, Ave Maria Mulligan, is a generation older than Trigiani and, as the first book opens, has settled into small-town spinsterhood as the local pharmacist.

The author, by contrast, has lived most of her adult life in New York City. After graduating from college with a theater degree, she moved to the city and began writing and directing plays (her day jobs included cook, nanny, house cleaner and office temp). In 1988, she was tapped to write for the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and spent the following decade working in television and film. When she presented her friend and agent Suzanne Gluck with a screenplay about Big Stone Gap, Gluck suggested she turn it into a novel.

The result was an instant bestseller that won praise from fellow writers along with kudos from celebrities (Whoopi Goldberg is a fan). It was followed by Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon, which chronicle the further adventures of Ave Maria through marriage and motherhood. People magazine called them "Delightfully quirky... chock full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists."

Critics sometimes reach for food imagery to describe Trigiani's books, which have been called "mouthwatering as fried chicken and biscuits" (USA Today) and "comforting as a mug of tea on a rainy Sunday" (The New York Times Book Review). Food and cooking play a big role in the lives of Trigiani's heroines and their families: Lucia, Lucia, about a seamstress in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and The Queen of the Big Time, set in an Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, both feature recipes from Trigiani's grandmothers. She and her sisters have even co-written a cookbook called, appropriately enough, Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap. It's peppered with anecdotes, photos and family history. What it doesn't have: low-carb recipes. "An Italian girl can only go so long without pasta," Trigiani quipped in an interview on GoTriCities.com.

Her heroines are also ardent readers, so it comes as no surprise that book groups love Adriana Trigiani. And she loves them right back. She's chatted with scores of them on the phone, and her Web site includes photos of women gathered together in living rooms and restaurants across the country, waving Italian flags and copies of Lucia, Lucia.

Trigiani, a disciplined writer whose schedule for writing her first novel included stints from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning, is determined not to disappoint her fans. So far, she's produced a new novel each year since the publication of Big Stone Gap.

"I don't take any of it for granted, not for one second, because I know how hard this is to catch with your public," she said in an interview with The Independent. "I don't look at my public as a group; I look at them like individuals, so if a reader writes and says, 'I don't like this,' or, 'This bit stinks,' I take it to heart."

Good To Know

Some fascinating, funny outtakes from our interview with Trigiani:

"I appeared on the game show Kiddie Kollege on WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia, when I was in the third grade. I missed every question. It was humiliating."

"I have held the following jobs: office temp, ticket seller in movie theatre, cook in restaurant, nanny, and phone installer at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. In the writing world, I have been a playwright, television writer/producer, documentary writer/director, and now novelist."

"I love rhinestones, faux jewelry. I bought a pair of pearl studded clip on earrings from a blanket on the street when I first moved to New York for a dollar. They turned out to be a pair designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. Now, they are costume, but they are still Schiaps! Always shop in the street -- treasures aplenty."

"Dear readers, I like you. I am so grateful that you read and enjoy my books. I never forget that -- or you -- when I am working. I am also indebted to the booksellers who read the advanced reader's editions and write to me and say, "I'm gonna hand-sell this one." That always makes me jump for joy. I love the people at my publishing house. Smart. Funny, and I like it when they're slightly nervous because that means they care. The people I have met since I started writing books have been amazing on every level -- and why not? You're readers. And for someone to take reading seriously means that you are seeking knowledge. Yes, reading is fun, but it is also an indication of a serious-minded person who values imagination and ideas and, dare I say it, art. I never thought in a million years when I was growing up in Big Stone Gap that I would be writing this to you today. Books have always been sacred to me -- important, critical, fundamental -- and a celebration of language and words. And authors! When I was little, I didn't play Old Maid, I played authors. They had cards with the famous authors on them. Now, granted, they didn't look like movie stars, but I loved what they wrote and had to say. I can boil this all down to one thing: I love to tell stories -- and I love to hear them. I didn't think there was a job in the world where I would get to do both, and now thank God, I've found it."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 483 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 484 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 54 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!

    26 out of 32 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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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    CHE BELLA!

    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 29 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!

    22 out of 25 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

    15 out of 17 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 life...it 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.

    10 out of 12 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

    AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL BOOK!!
    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.

    10 out of 12 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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  • 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.

    4 out of 4 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.

    4 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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Childish

    Childish with no depth at all

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    AN ENJOYABLE READ.

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Highly recommend

    A beautiful story about how those who first came to this country had a dream and no matter how bad their circumstances were, they persevered and made this country into the best place in the world to live, without government assistance and handouts.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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