Quick Picks from CMCL

July 2, 2014

What I’m Reading Now: Italian-American fiction

Jacket5Adriana Trigiani, one of my favorite authors, has finally completed her Valentine trilogy that began with Very Valentine, followed by Brava Valentine, and ends with The Supreme Macaroni Company. Valentine Roncalli, a shoe designer, is being groomed to take over the business of creating exquisite, handmade wedding shoes that has been in her family for three generations. Her grandmother is ready to hand over the reins of the Angelini Shoe Company as well as the building that houses the shop and family apartment in Greenwich Village.

As a young woman tied to the legacy of the past, Valentine is learning to manage the business and her own relationships, both family and romantic. As she comes into her own, she travels to Italy with her grandmother and is inspired to create new designs. She visits the leather makers that provide the materials for their wedding shoes. She finds romance with the tanner’s son. Valentine’s entry into a shoe design competition for a New York department store is among the winners, which encourages her to continue with expanding the Angelini line. As her grandmother retires, marries her longtime love, and moves back to Italy, Valentine is made a partner in the business with her brother,  with whom she has a rocky sibling relationship.

She uncovers family secrets as she travels to Buenos Aires to find a factory to mass produce her designs. The romance with the tanner’s son leads to marriage and a child and fulfilling her dream of mass producing exquisite shoes for all women, not just brides. I love the descriptions of the shop, the feel and smell of the leather and wax, the drawers full of ribbons, findings, embellishments.

Trigiani continues themes that are present in many of her books: Italian American family relations, strong independent women, life in Greenwich Village, finding your strength, asking for help to fulfill your dreams, marrying later in life and coping with loss. This is truly a heartfelt saga that I would love to see continue – Rita


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