Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

04 May

The Shoemaker's Wife CoverMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this sweeping story of a shoemaker and his wife.  It was my first book from Adriana Trigiani, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Summary via Goodreads:

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.

This is how you make an interesting story about two seemingly ordinary people. “Turned over to a convent to raise” isn’t a common story, but it doesn’t have to be an interesting one. “Heading to America to work menial jobs and send money to family at home” is a common story, one told many times before. In Trigiani’s hands, even the ordinary details serve to bring the characters to life, to lift them off the pages of the book.

I loved the characters, who weren’t perfect, but were real. They were interesting people, inspiring in a small way, the kind you can believe, the sort of people you could imagine knowing. They’d have interesting things to say, great stories to share.

Trigiani’s writing makes it all come alive. I feel like I have a real sense of rural Italy, of New York and New Jersey, of Minnesota, of life in the shoe maker’s shop, in the sewing factory, and at the opera.

I loved the relationships in this book. The straightforward friendships found in unexpected places, the loving parent-child links, the more troubled parents and children, the complicated siblings, the love interests that were good while they lasted, the marriages that lasted… In all these cases and more, they rang true.

The writing is beautiful, the story is mentally and emotionally engrossing, the characters are rich and believable. Everything I’d want from a sweeping family story is here in this book.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book. For more information about Adriana Trigiani, see her website:, her Facebook page, and her Twitter account. For other viewpoints on the book, check out the other tour stops:

TLC Book Tours


Posted by on May 4, 2012 in books, reviews, tour


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6 responses to “Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

  1. Sheila (Book Journey)

    May 4, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Fabulous. Every time I see a review on it I just smile.

  2. Leslie

    May 4, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I have read so many wonderful reviews of this book I just have to read it. I’ve got a copy of the audiobook on it’s way.

  3. Heather J. @ TLC

    May 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I say it every time I see a Trigiani review, but I simply MUST make the time to read her books – they sound completely wonderful in every way!

    Thanks for being on the tour Laura.

  4. trish

    May 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Friendships found in unexpected places? I have a big soft spot for those! Maybe because I can imagine myself in those situations. I really need to read this book!

  5. Howard Sherman

    May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    As a Jersey boy and a sucker for the good old days, I was immediately captivated. Born and raised in Brooklyn that also makes me a New York which made the New York references into tractor beams pulling me in to want to really read this book.


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