Completion Date: August 20, 2012
Reason for Reading: TLC Book Tour.
The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century. Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York’s Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind. But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to emigrate to America. Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera . . . and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso. Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change their lives forever.
A riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny, inspired by the author’s own family history, The Shoemaker’s Wife is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write.I had this book out from the library once before, but just wasn't in the right frame of mind for it at the time. Then, I saw a copy at the store and decided I had a better chance of reading my own copy. The TLC Book Tour was added inspiration after all the positive reviews I have seen circulating around the blogosphere. I have always wanted to read Trigiani and this was my first attempt. Thankfully, when I sat down with the book for the second time everything clicked and I was quickly pulled away into the world she has created.
I love nothing better than to read a historical fiction novel that is so believable I feel like I am there. The Shoemaker's Wife was one such book. There was nothing happening that seemed far-fetched or impossible. I read the book feeling like everything that was happening made entire sense. It was the story of a young man and a young woman who are born on the mountains of Italy. The financial situation is poor and they each have to do what they can to get by. The young man, Ciro, has lost his father and his mother cannot afford to raise him and his brother. They go and live in a convent. The young girl, Enza, comes from a large family that just can't seem to make ends meet. The situation plays out that they both end up in America to start new lives for themselves. They start from the bottom and work themselves up. They experience the real struggles for their times.
The book follows them from the early part of the 20th century, through WWI, and then ends just after WWII. During this time they get older and the cast of characters fluctuates, but it is ultimately their story. I don't think I have read many books where Italians and Italy itself play a major role. I found this refreshing in the midst of all the 'fads' in historical fiction. The wars were just a background to the overall story. They may have influenced the lives of the characters, but the book was more about the people. You really felt like you knew them and could see where they were coming from. When things were good you cheered long with them. And, in the bad times you could experience their heartache. Trigiani doesn't hold anything back.
I really enjoyed reading the story of Enza and Ciro. I also loved many of the secondary characters and felt they came alive for the readers, too. A real story is not just about the main characters but about the people that they meet who influence and give shape to their story. I think that Trigiani had a good mix of their story and the other characters story, too. Ciro and Enza wouldn't have became the people they were at the end of the story without the people they met along the way. It gives more depth to things. If you haven't had a chance to enjoy this book you really should.
And, if you live in the United States or Canada you might get your own copy from this blog. I have one to give-away. I very rarely do give-aways on here; but I really should from time to time, right? (There are couple more in the future.) So, if you interested leave a comment. It would be nice if you actually said something in the comment, too.... Not just "Thanks for the give-away" or whatever. That's just me, though. The give-away will close on August 29, 2012.