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Book Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife

Posted by gck Monday, April 22, 2013

shoemakerswifeThe Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Recommended for: Epic historical fiction fans

Book 12 of 52 in the “Around the World” Challenge

Back-cover summary:
The 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.

My review:
I was craving an epic story when I picked up The Shoemaker’s Wife for book club, and I didn’t even realize it until the end. I loved the stories of Ciro, Enza, and their families and friends, weaving in and out of each other’s lives. I loved how the saga moved from location to location, sweeping me into a different world each time.

My favorite parts of the book were the parts set in the Italian Alps (what a beautiful setting!) and New York City. When the setting switched to Minnesota, the story was less enchanting, and the pace seemed to speed up at that point.

At book club, I found myself saying, “I don’t know why they called it The Shoemaker’s Daughter. That wasn’t even a big part of the book.” Fortunately, the rest of my book club was paying attention and corrected my misreading of the title. Still, I feel like the title didn’t properly sum up the book. While I’m glad the title gave Enza the credit as the main focus, she was so much more than a shoemaker’s wife, and her story was bigger than that, too.


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