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.)
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.
Delightful, energetic. . . . Trigiani is a seemingly effortless storyteller.
Well crafted work with sometime lyrical, sometimes flat-out-funny writing.
Trigiani has certainly not lost her ability to breathe life into everything she writes.
Adriana Trigiani listens to her readers, then gives them what they want.
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
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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.