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The Shoemaker's Wife

The Shoemaker's Wife

4.3 520
by Adriana Trigiani, Orlagh Cassidy (Narrated by)

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The majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. When Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished and sent to hide in America. Soon Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America.

Unbeknownst to one


The majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. When Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished and sent to hide in America. Soon Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I as Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Adriana Trigiani's own family history and the love of tradition, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

Editorial Reviews

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)
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.”
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
Library Journal - Audio
Enduring family ties are the theme of Trigiani's love story of Ciro and Enza, which is based on the author's Italian heritage. At the close of the 19th century, Ciro and his brother are left at a convent in the Italian Alps when their widowed mother can no longer care for them. While the boys grow under the nuns' watchful care, Enza and her large family are living in a neighboring village. When Enza's beloved baby sister dies, Ciro is hired as the grave digger. Their paths cross, separate, and cross again when they both immigrate to New York. Ciro becomes a shoemaker in lower Manhattan, while Enza works as a dressmaker at the Metropolitan Opera. They marry, settle in northern Minnesota, and raise a family. Through tragedy, happiness, struggle, and success, Enza and Ciro's devotion to their families and their abiding love for each other shine through. VERDICT Actress Annabella Sciorra and Trigiani share the narration duties to differentiate between Enza's and Ciro's youth in Italy and their life in the United States. Unfortunately, the effect detracts from, rather than enhances, the program. ["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," read the review of the New York Times best-selling HarperCollins hc, LJ 3/1/12.—Ed.]—Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton 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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 2.10(d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

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The Shoemaker's Wife 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 520 reviews.
Bavaro More than 1 year ago
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,
mrsinserra More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
simple344 More than 1 year ago
loved the story line, so naturally had to get the this book. It did not disappoint!
imarose More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Read4Joy More than 1 year ago
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.
anonymous67 More than 1 year ago
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.
Grams1DM More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Ladylearner More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books that I have read in a long time!
pretty-bird More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely tale...swept me away to another time and different places!
GeeGirl More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading 'Shoemaker's Wife'. It was the type of book that was difficult to put down. The characters were so vivid and alive. During certain passages in the book, I had tears in my eyes; I felt emotionally attached to the characters. I completely enjoyed the book and plan to read more Adriana Trigiani books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful love story that spans generations. Very relatable to those of us who come have grandparents who were immigrants.
Phyllie More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Adriana Trigiani takes me back to Italy and I can feel "LaFamilia" love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to read some of the other reviews that didn't praise this book. One reviewer talked about how the two main characters seemed to go from one disaster to another... Well, guess what, for some people that's how life is. I loved the way each of them dealt with their problems and showed us that with enough faith, hour, and hard work anyone can get through problems. The ending was sad in one way, yet even then you could see the same message... That we can get through anything. The book brought tears to my eyes a couple times and I didn't want to put it down, one of the best books I've ever read!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written historical fiction The Shoemaker's Wife is a very enjoyable novel. The author definitely knows how to grab the reader in right away. Great character development and a great story. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from the beginning to end. It held my interest and I couldn't put it down. The wonderful thing for me is that I have been to Bergamo in Italy and visualized the scenes as I was reading. Loved this book and can't wait to read another one by Trigiani.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was so well writen and such a treat to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this historical fiction. Well written and researched, it is a novel that keeps you thinking about the characters and their lives even after you have finished reading the book I learned so much about immigrants and their struggles. This is a love story for those who appreciate music, fashion, cooking, family and faith.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You really get to know the characters.