Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Published: April 3, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Hardcover: 496 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. 

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

My Thoughts: Wow. Where to begin with this epic novel. To say it's one of the best books I've read this year is an understatement (and I've read some really good ones). This is an epic story, not just of two people in love with one another, but an epic tale of the American dream. Ciro and Enza come over from America and work in their respective trades, building lives for themselves in this new world. They become masters of what they do and are able to live out the American dream when Ciro opens his own business. They work hard to support themselves and give their lives to building a business and home.

Adriana Trigiani's characters are so real and she continues that in this book. Enza seemed like someone who I would know (if I was alive way back then). I immediately liked her and was rooting for her to find happiness in America. Ciro is endearing from the moment that he is introduced and you can't help but love him, even if he seems a little stupid at times (how could he lead Enza on like that when they were young?!?) I also loved how Trigiani switched between the two as narrators. It made the story so rich when you could see what each one was doing.

So, I loved the book. Why did I only give it 4 stars then? For me, the ending was too fast. It may be a case of wishing that this book would never end, but I felt too rushed. I thought that it could have been a bit more drawn out and not wrapped up so perfectly, or maybe ended a little earlier. Either way, that's the only downside of this book for me. Trigiani is now one of my favorite authors and this book was such a magnificent work. If you haven't read Trigiani's novels, then you need to give her a try. I don't think that you will be disappointed.


  1. I have been wanting to read this one for a while and after reading your review I am going to order a copy from my library today. It sounds like a great read!

  2. Terrific review! The Shoemaker's Wife sounds like a book I should add to my must-read list! Rushed endings aren't great, so I'll watch for that to see if it feels rushed to me too. Didn't this author get her beginnings in fame while acting in The Cosby Show or something similar?