Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: The Shoemaker's Wife

The Shoemaker's Wife 
By Adriana Trigiani
Published: April 3, 2012

My review:

Based on the true story of Adriana Trigiani's grandparents, The Shoemaker's Wife tells the love story of Ciro and Enza who first meet in Italy as teens. Ciro has grown up working and living in a convent with his brother Eduardo and on the day after he first sees Enza, Ciro is banished to the U.S. because of scandal involving a local priest. Their paths cross again when Enza also finds her way to the States to help make a better life for her family. Circumstances keep tearing the star-crossed pair apart as they strive to succeed in their new world, Ciro as a shoemaker and Enza as a seamstress. 

The Shoemaker's Wife is filled with lovely descriptions of Italy, food, music, and fashion as well as a good story.  The details added to my enjoyment of the story, especially the history and culture. The scenes with Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera were among my favorites. What I loved the most however were the characters. I was drawn to the character of Enza particularly as she persevered to see her dreams come true. Her best friend Laura is a great secondary character too. I think what appealed to me about Enza's story was not just how smart and resourceful she is but also the depiction of her life as a career girl in New York.  Seeing how she and Laura made their way from a sweatshop to the Opera House was really neat.

The love story kind of grew on me. I cared more about the individual journeys of Ciro and Enza and it wasn't until much later in the story that I bought into their feelings for each other. These are two hardworking and admirable characters though Ciro got on my nerves at times. I think that they represent the values of people who came to this country and worked hard to realize their American dream. While the book could come across as a fairy tale at times, it was also very clear that Ciro and Enza had to work for what they got with the occasional lucky break.

The Shoemaker's Wife is a sweet and inspiring novel that somehow manages to avoid becoming saccharine or trite. It does have a few pacing issues and I think the story runs out of steam for a little while (during the Minnesota period-I missed the detail of the earlier chapters) before picking up again towards the end with an emotional tug. Overall I thought this was an excellent historical fiction novel and I loved that it is based on a true story. After reading this book, don't be surprised if you find yourself listening to Enrico Caruso or looking up recipes to make gnocchi...

Note: I received an e-ARC for review courtesy of Eidelweiss


  1. My mom read this and kept telling me how great it was but I've had a bad experience with Trigiani's writing before so I'm kind of hesitant.

  2. I love Trigiani's books, so I have been meaning to pick up a copy of this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think I'll enjoy it even more than her Valentine books, because it's a historical read. I'm such a sucker for good historical fiction. Thanks for the great review, Christina!

  3. This is one I've been meaning to read, I'm sure I'll enjoy the food/wine/culture detail and the characters. Thanks for lovely review :)

  4. I don't think I've read anything by this author, this is one I'd like to find though :)


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