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Very Valentine, an instant New York Times bestseller, introduced the contemporary family saga of the Roncalli and Angelini families, artisans of handcrafted wedding shoes in Greenwich Village since 1903.
As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of her grandmother, Teodora, and longtime love, Dominic. Valentine's dreams are dashed when Gram announces that Alfred, "the prince," Valentine's only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner who made his romantic intentions known on the Isle of Capri. Despite their passion for one another and Gianluca's heartfelt letters, a long-distance relationship seems impossible.
As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, mentor and pattern cutter June Lawton guides her through her power struggle with Alfred, while best friend and confidante Gabriel Biondi moves into 166 Perry Street, transforming her home and point of view. Savvy financier Bret Fitzpatrick, Valentine's first love and former fiancée who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a business woman with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world.
A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.
Brava, Valentine, Trigiani's best novel yet, delivers a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters as only she can create them.
Read an Excerpt
Shake Down the Stars
The most magical thing happened on the morning of my grandmother's wedding in Tuscany. It snowed.
This is definitely Italian snow, not the New York City variety of midwinter precipitation. It doesn't fall in big, chunky flakes, nor is it heavy February hail that stings faces and turns sidewalks into solid sheets of ice. Rather, this is a flurry of white glitter that sifts through the air and melts instantly when it lands on the stone streets.
From my window at the Spolti Inn, it seems the entire village of Arezzo is swathed in a lace bridal veil. I sip hot milk and espresso from a warm mug as I watch an old horse-drawn carriage pull up in front of the inn to take us to the church. It doesn't feel like 2010. It could easily be a hundred years ago, not a modern touch in sight. Time stands still when people are happy. The ticking of real time resumes as soon as the rings are exchanged-for all of us.
Gram and Dominic's wedding plans were made quickly and effortlessly (the beauty of an eighty-year-old bride is that she really knows what she does and doesn't want). The airline tickets were bought online after a series of negotiations that eventually led to the splendid group rate that brought the Angelini and Roncalli families to this Italian village, into this moment, this morning.
We've all got roles in this romantic tale. The great-granddaughters are flower girls and the great-grandsons miniature groomsmen. My sisters Tess and Jaclyn and I are bridesmaids, as is our sister-in-law Pamela, while my mother is matron of honor. Dominic's granddaughter Orsolawill represent his side of the family in the bridal party. My father will walk his mother-in-law down the aisle and into the arms of Dominic Vechiarelli.
"It snowed that day," I imagine I'll tell my children. I'll explain that after ten years as a widow, my grandmother found love again. Teodora Angelini's story relies on fate, timing, and the best of luck. It's also a story filled with hope-reminding all of us who haven't found love that, regardless of age, experience, or locale, it's a bad idea to close the book before "The End." You just never know. Not one of us, not even the bride, saw this day coming.
"Somebody shoot me!" my mother shouts from the hallway.
"My hair is a wet mop!"
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Mike. We're in a freakin' hotel. Pipe down," I hear my father bark back.
"Do you have to yell?" Tess hollers from her room. "Why does this family always have to yell?" she yells.
"Shh. You'll wake the bay-bee!" Jaclyn whisper-shouts from her doorway.
My door bursts open. My mother stands in her full black slip with her hands on her hips. "I blew out my flatiron," she announces. A flatiron blowout in my family is worse than finding a lump. And we have found our share of lumps.
Mom's face is made up, alabaster-perfect and powdered down, ready for photographs from all angles. Her fake eyelashes give her enough oomph to pass as one of Beyoncé's backup singers. Her cheeks have a peachy Bobbi Brown glow, but that's all that's sparkling about my mother. She's beyond frazzled and close to tears.
"What's the matter, Ma? You're not yourself."
"What can I do to help?"
"I don't know. I'm just a-a-a. . . mess." She plops down on my bed. Half of her head is done, straight, glossy strands of freshly dyed chestnut brown, and the other half is still damp and crimped. Mom has naturally curly hair, but you would never know it from her left profile. From the front, however, she looks like a split-screen hair model on the Home Shopping Network: before and after the anti-frizz cream has been applied. She smoothes the front panels of her black slip over her thighs and pulls the hem over her knees.
I sit down next to her. "What's the problem?"
"Where do I begin?" Her eyes fill with tears. She pulls a tissue from under her slip strap and dabs the inner corners of her eyes so as not to irrigate the eyelash glue and cause the mink spikes to float away in her tears like paper canoes down the Nile.
"You look great."
"Do I?" The tears insta-dry in my mother's eyes, and she sits up straight. All it takes is a compliment to pull my mother back to her emotional center.
"Like a million bucks," I promise her.
"I brought my Clarisonic. So at least I'm exfoliated. That didn't blow in the outlet, thank God."
"I don't know, Valentine. I just don't know. I'm completely off my game. I'm shaking. Look." Mom holds up her hand. It flutters partly from nerves, and partly because she's making it flutter. "This is so strange to me. To be a maid of honor at my own mother's wedding."
"Matron," I correct her. "The last over-sixty maid of anything was Mother Teresa."
Mom ignores the comment. She continues, "There's something so out of kilter about this whole thing."
"Gram is happy."
"Yes, yes, and I've adjusted to all of it! It began with the news that my mother, eighty years young, fell in love. Then once I swallowed that, she decided to marry. I accepted her decision. Then she announces that not only will she become Dominic's bride, she has decided to move to Italy. For good. It's been a series of whammies, I'll admit it. One beaut after another, I'll tell ya. But I survived the shock of each little bomb she dropped and put aside my doubts and misgivings and went with it. Don't I always go with the flow?"Brava, Valentine
A Novel. Copyright (c) by Adriana Trigiani . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.