Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Published April 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: bought this one for my Nook
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy and Adriana Trigiani

Publisher's Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
This is the fictionalized account of Trigiani's grandparents' love story and it's a story Trigiani clearly loved writing. Her grandfather did apprentice as a shoemaker and her grandmother was a seamstress. Trigiani pulled in her grandmother's love of Enrico Caruso, her own love of opera, and spent twenty years thinking about the book.

The Shoemaker's Wife is a paean to the details and beauty of everyday life. At the same time, it is a sweeping saga that spans an ocean and decades. Trigiani does a magnificent job of bringing a scene to life for her readers, the colors, textures, and smells. It's the kind of book I usually eat up.

So why didn't I love this book?

Perhaps because Trigiani so wanted us to love the book, she wanted us to love the story of her grandparents. She wanted it to be sweeping and beautifully told. Here's the thing - I could see the majesty of those mountains, imagine the bustle of turn-of-the-last-century New York/New Jersey setting, feel the textures of the costumes and hear the glory of the music. But I didn't feel the emotions, not to the extent I should have to feel the pain, the love, the joy of Trigiani's characters. Some of that I attribute to what felt like a need to tell me how I should feel and why, a need to remind me, in some cases, again and again and again. Some of it was that the emotions just got lost in all of the words. Oh so many words. Fifteen discs that could have been twelve or thirteen. The Shoemaker's Wife is a wonderful story, but there's just too much of it.

A word about the narration: Orlagh Cassidy does a wonderful job with the narration, the Italian names and phrases rolling off her tongue. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the narration changed and suddenly Trigiani was narrating. It's her story, I'm sure she knew what she wanted it to sound like. But her voice is just not as pleasant, her style doesn't flow as easily and I didn't enjoy it as much.

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