Very Valentine (Valentine Trilogy #1)

Very Valentine (Valentine Trilogy #1)

by Adriana Trigiani


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Very Valentine (Valentine Trilogy #1) by Adriana Trigiani

The Angelini Shoe Company, one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village, has been making exquisite wedding shoes since 1903 but now teeters on the brink of financial collapse. To save their business from ruin, thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli—apprentice to and granddaughter of master artisan Teodora Angelini—must bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century. Juggling her budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother in a quest to build a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. And in the course of discovering her true artistic voice and so much more in la bella Italia, Valentine will be turning her life and the business upside down in ways she never expected.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061257063
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Series: Valentine Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 401
Sales rank: 248,827
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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 has written the screenplay for her debut novel Big Stone Gap, which she will also direct. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

Very Valentine

Chapter One

Leonard's of Great Neck

I'm not the pretty sister.

I'm not the smart sister either. I am the funny one. I've been called that for so long, for so many years, in fact, that all of my life I thought it was one word: Funnyone.

If I had to die, and believe me, I don't want to, but if I had to choose a location, I'd want to die right here in the ladies' lounge at Leonard's of Great Neck. It's the mirrors. I look slimsational, even in 3-D. I'm no scientist, but there's something about the slant of the full-length glass, the shimmer of the blue marble counters, and the golden light of the pavé chandeliers that creates an optical illusion, turning my reflection into a long, lean, pale pink swizzle stick.

This is my eighth reception (third as an attendant) at Leonard's La Dolce Vita, the formal name for our family's favorite Long Island wedding factory. Everyone I know has been married here, or, at least everyone I'm related to.

My sisters and I made our debut as flower girls in 1984 for our cousin Mary Theresa, who had more attendants on the dais than guests at the tables. Our cousin's wedding might have been a sacred exchange of vows between a man and a woman, but it was also a show, with costumes, choreography, and special lighting, making the bride the star and the groom the grip.

Mary T. considers herself Italian-American royalty, so she had the Knights of Columbus form a crossing guard for our entrance into the Starlight Venetian Room.

The knights were regal in their tuxedos, red sashes, black capes, and tricornered hats with the marabou plumes. I took myplace behind the other girls in the pro-cession as the band played "Nobody Does It Better," but I turned around to run away as the knights held up their swords to form a canopy. Aunt Feen grabbed me and gave me a shove. I closed my eyes, gripped my bouquet, and bolted under the blades like I was running for sane.

Despite my fear of sharp and clanging objects, I fell in love with Leonard's that day. It was my first Italian formal. I couldn't wait to grow up and emulate my mother and her friends who drank Harvey Wallbangers in cut-crystal tumblers while wearing silver sequins from head to toe. When I was nine years old, I thought Leonard's had class. Never mind that from the passing lane on Northern Boulevard it looks like a white stucco casino on the French Riviera by way of Long Island. For me, Leonard's was a House of Enchantments.

The La Dolce Vita experience begins when you pull up to the entrance. The wide circular driveway is a dead ringer for Jane Austen's Pemberley and also resembles the valet stand at Neiman Marcus, outside the Short Hills mall. This is the thing about Leonard's: everywhere you look, it reminds you of elegant places you have already been. The two-story picture windows are reminiscent of the Metropolitan Opera House, while the tiered fountain is strictly Trevi. You almost believe you're in the heart of Rome until you realize the cascading water is actually drowning out the traffic on I-495.

The landscaping is a marvel of botanical grooming, with boxwood sheared into long rectangles, low borders of yew, privet hedges in cropped ovals, and bayberry sculpted into twirly ice- cream-cone shapes. The manicured shrubs are set in beds of shiny river stones, an appropriate pre-motif to the ice sculptures that tower over the raw bar inside.

The exterior lights suggest the strip in Las Vegas, but it's far more tasteful here, as the bulbs are recessed, giving the place a low, twinkling glow. Topiaries shaped like crescent moons flank the entrance doors. Beneath them, low meatball bushes serve as a base for the birds-of-paradise, which pop out of the shrubs like cocktail umbrellas.

The band plays "Burning Down the House" as I take a moment to catch my breath in the ladies' lounge. I'm alone for the first time on my sister Jaclyn's wedding day and I like it. It's been a long one. I'm holding the tension of the entire family in the vertebrae of my neck. When I marry, I will elope to city hall because my bones can't take the pressure of another Roncalli wedding extravaganza. I'd miss the beer-battered shrimp and the pâté rillettes, but I'd survive. The months of planning this wedding nearly gave me an ulcer, and the actual execution bestowed on my right eye a pulsating tic that could only be soothed by holding a frozen teething ring I bogarted from cousin Kitty Calzetti's baby after the Nuptial Mass. Despite the agita, it's a wonderful day, because I'm happy for my baby sister, who I remember holding, like a Capodimonte rose, on the day she was born.

I hold my martini-shaped eve-ning bag covered in sequins (the wedding-party gift from the bride) up to the mirror and say, "I'd like to thank Kleinfeld of Brooklyn, who knocked off Vera Wang to strapless perfection. And I'd like to thank Spanx, the girdle genius, who turned my pear shape into a surfboard." I move closer to the mirror and check my teeth. It ain't an Italian wedding without clams casino dusted in parsley flakes, and you know where those end up.

My professional makeup job provided (at half price) by the bride's best friend's sister-in-law, Nancy DeNoia, is really holding up. She did my face at around eight o'clock this morning, and it's now supper time but I still look fresh. "It's the powder. Banane by LeClerc," my older sister, Tess, said. And she knows: she was matte through two childbirths. We have the pictures to prove it.

This morning, my sisters, our mother, and I sat on folding chairs in front of Mom's Golden Age of Hollywood mirror in the bedroom of their Tudor in Forest Hills, pretty (almost) maids all in a row.

Very Valentine. Copyright © by Adriana Trigiani. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Very Valentine 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 238 reviews.
patoxley More than 1 year ago
I can hardly wait for the second book in this trilogy. What a fun and heartwarming book. I love Italy and felt like I was there. The characters were believable and very likeable! Go Adriana -- keep those books coming!
Guest More than 1 year ago
For all of Trigiani's fans and for newcomers get ready for a wonderful novel in 2009! VERY VALENTINE which I had the privilege and pleasure of reading recently is a story that comes alive with real life characters and situations led by the protagonist, Valentine Roncalli. Val is a female who makes us proud! What a gal! Devoted to family and tradition she leads her life with strength and commitment. As her grandmother's apprentice she designs and builds wedding shoes - custom made works of art, just ask Bergdorf Goodman. The business was begun by Val's great grandfather and continued by her grandfather. Now, it's Gram and Val working side by side with Val trying to hang on to the business and the building. Aware of her advancing years - she's a very old 33 - she becomes involved with Roman, a chef. Two demanding careers don't make for a successful romantic relationship - imagine seeing Capri without your lover! Val's mother reminds me so much of Toot from Adriana's novel, ROCOCO because of her fashion non-sense and her wit. I could tell you more and spoil it for you but I'll leave it here by saying, 'Come ride the waves with Val, Gram and her boyfriend, Dad's illness, Bergdorf Goodman's contest, the wisdom imparted by an Italian cobbler and the beautiful poetic descriptions throughout the book by our beloved author. The cover design is beautiful, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one is very compelling. It pulled me right in and made me care about the characters and wonder about what was going to happen next. I see that this will be the first in a trilogy for this author, so I am defintely looking forward to reading more!
LCH47 More than 1 year ago
Thirty-three year old Valentine Roncalli is an apprentice to her grandmother in the family-owned Angelini Shoe Company, in Greenwich Village. The two women make custom wedding shoes, a good business, but one which has lost its marketing power to larger companies which make mass-produced shoes. It has all the ear marks of bankruptcy. Valentine's brother is a successful businessman and is trying to convince them to sell their office building and discontinue the business. Her Grandmother is tired of trying to keep the business afloat but Valentine is determined to keep the company going. She studies up on management and finance in the middle of family crisis and other tensions that life has a habit of throwing at us. Then there's a boyfriend, Bergdorf's competition, an eye-opening, exciting journey to Italy.beautiful! Naples, Capri.exquisite fabrics and new beginnings.A wonderful storyline!
tee-em-dee More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book; and am thrilled it's a triology; I can't wait for the others to come out. This book, like AT's others (I've read all of them) is a page turner; each chapter left me wanting more. Being an Italian NYer, I loved that the story took place in NY, and the family business was SHOES -very different storyline, and as usual, her detailed writing, from the scenery to the shoes to the clothes put you "there". AT defintely leaves you with clear images of all the characters. The reference she made to LUCIA, LUCIA was fun; I'm sure all AT readers will enjoy that. I thought this book contained the most humor out of all of her books(it actually made me laugh out loud). The chapters in this book are longer than her others, but still a great read!! Highly recommend it!
vbird More than 1 year ago
Seemed to take forever to get nowhere
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
Started out great but got slow in spots. The biggest criticism I have is the constant name dropping of famous designers, their products and overly descriptive details. It is just way over the top. The book would probably be 50 pages less if the author didn't go on and on about every little thing. I never even heard of many of these designers and by the end of the book, didn’t care. Using their names over and over again just wasn’t necessary and made the book difficult to plough through. We get it, the main character is very involved in the fashion world. Say what is necessary to get your point across and move on. I always appreciate great descriptions by authors which is very important to a story. However, the overly verbose descriptions of every blouse, shirt, pair of pants, food item etc. is just too much. It’s not necessary to keep beating us over the head with inane details. Also, there are areas where the author writes what the characters are saying in Italian. Yes, they are in Italy for part of the book but many readers do not speak Italian. A phrase here and there would be OK for the true flavor of what is going on but the author actually wrote paragraphs in Italian! Then, there was no English translation so you felt like you missed part of the story. Good basic story with interesting characters. Well edited. I do plan to read the rest of this series. Hopefully, the other books will not be weighed down with useless details.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
How can you call a novel about a 34 year old a coming of age story, well you'll just have to take my word for it because that's exactly the fact finding mission that Valentine Roncalli is on, to find her role in her family, in her career and in life in general. Deep in the island known as Manhattan on a quiet street called Perry sits a quaint old building that houses the Angelini Shoe Company started in Italy in 1903 and built on the back of Valentine Roncalli's great-grandfather, grandfather and grandmother she now finds herself in the precarious position of next in line to take the reins of this now struggling family business. A few short years ago Valentine quit her teaching job to start a new career one in her blood, that of creating one of a kind wedding shoes and in this struggling economy she needs to find a way to bring the business she loves into the 21st century and into the black. Along with her beloved grandmother she finds new and inventive ways to re-brand the name. Along the way she is met with the force known as her family and love she didn't expect to find. Her family is a solid feature in her Italian-American life, but love, not so much. Adriana introduces her readers to her larger than life Italian family known as the Angelini/Roncallis and they are an immovable force and bring to life her wonderful tale of love, family and finding a place to belong. The characters are the real stars of this novel they are rambunctious, loud, loving, hateful. You name it you get it and each one is an integral part of the telling of her story. Her protagonist Valentine is the typical middle child, always the peace keeper and never quite finding the right spot in the hierarchy of the family. But she is a real three dimensional character and you will find yourself turning page after page to find out what madcap thing can happen to her next. Adriana's dialogue is flowing and prose like when describing her wonderful scenes of Italy and very boisterous when depicting the many family interactions. This is not a romance but there is a love story involved here and the author handles it with care and dignity and would not offend any reader. This novel will delight any reader who loves literary fiction, a great family read, a love story and a coming of age long after it's due tale. And after you're finished with this then run don't walk to the next read in the series out now called Brava Valentine.
JerseyGirlTX More than 1 year ago
As an Italian American from the east coast, there were many details of this little story that hit home for me. I smiled and chuckled through many chapters. It's a quick, easy read, a nice tribute to family (in all of its dysfunctions) and to staying true to yourself.
Pat827pa More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while you discover an author whose work makes you feel like you can't wait for their next book because the writing is so wonderful. Adriana Trigiani is that kind of author. I got hooked when I read "Big Stone Gap" and since then I've read every single one of her books. "Very Valentine" is a Valentine to Adriana's readers! It is beautifully written, her descriptions exquisite, and because it's so touching, lovely, and funny, you don't want it to end. I fell in love with the characters and am so glad that the book is part of a trilogy because I want to know more about their lives. It's a book for anyone and everyone! Ms. Trigiani has out done herself!
LO353 More than 1 year ago
My first experience with this author. A few pages into the book, I thought I'd started another "always the bridesmaid" tale of woe but it was much better than that. My sister lived in NYC and I felt like I was right back there. It was funny, touching, colorful, sweet, romantic, and fun. I hope the next installment comes out soon. Oh, and the discriptions of sumptuous Italian food had me craving home grown tomatoes in March in Oregon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and this character can be as endearing as Ave Maria McChesney. Can't wait for the second in the series to be published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first of a trilogy, and it promises to be a very good series. The characters are nicely developed and you get to know them pretty well in this first book. The storyline is unique and it takes you from NYC to Italy and back. It explores the world of tradition in a large Italian family, custom-made wedding shoes, the high-end fashion world, family values, competition and love. Valentine is a fascinating woman and seems to be coming into her own by the end of this book. Her grandmother is pretty special too. The author is obviously familiar with NYC and Italy, and her grandfather was a shoemaker which adds to the attention to detail displayed in the story. I hated for this book to end and am very axnious for the next instalment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again Trigiani has given us a wonderful and typical Italian family to read about. Her characters are so easy to fall in love with and to miss once you've finished the book. The part of the book that is set in Italy was my favorite. Trigiani can make you feel as though you are actually there. Of course, typical Trigiani, you will be hungry throughout the entire book as you read about the delicious food of Italy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book in a new trilogy. The characters are interesting and take me back to my youth in New York state. It reminds me of so many of my friends there. I waited, not very patiently, for this new book, and was not disappointed. I would like to hear more in the Big Stone Gap theme as well and hope that more is coming there as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was enjoyable, but the too descriptive details left me rolling my eyes and skimming the pages more often than I wanted to. Get to the point already!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Adriana is my all time favorite author so I am a little partial from the beginning, but this is a wonderful story of romance and old-world charm. With so many of us looking for the quality and comforts of years gone by the characters of this book make you feel like you are part of their world. Fabulous settings throughout and characters that have you cheering for their success, this book is a must read. My heart still belongs to Lucia Lucia, but I am so glad there will be more to come in the Roncalli family. Thank you Adriana!!
georgiaDT More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be written in the same style of all of Trigiani's books. She draws a great picture of all of the settings and the characters. I read this book while on vacation and had finished it within a weekend. Can't wait for her next one!
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A very good story
sunnyreader484 More than 1 year ago
Would recommend this book by Adriana Trigiani. Valentine's relationships with family and boy friends are the theme of this book. Also, very informative about shoes and fashion. This is the second book I have read by this author.
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