The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
Their love seemed meant to be. But could it last a lifetime…?
Nestled high in the Italian Alps lies Vilminore, home to Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. Close by lives Enza, a practical girl who longs only for happiness for her family. When the two meet as teenagers, it seems it could be the start of a new life together…
Then Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal and is sent to America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy, leaving behind a bereft Enza. Her family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to flee to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, Ciro and Enza build fledgling lives in New York. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job, until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza must learn to forge a life without him.
From the stately mansions of New York’s Upper East Side 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…
I have never read a book by Adriana Trigiani but when I saw this in the library and read the inside cover, I knew that I wanted to read it. I think it is fairly obvious that I gravitate towards books about Italy so it was a natural choice. Add to this the fact that some of the characters immigrate to America and I thought this will make an interesting read. I have not been disappointed at all.
The book opens in Italy as Caterina Lazzari takes her two sons Eduardo and Ciro to be looked after by nuns in the local convent. She is not in a state to look after them as her husband has died. So she leaves her boys behind, and promises to return a year later. But this doesn’t happen. Meanwhile we meet Enza who lives further up the mountain with her large family. Ironically it is Enza’s father who takes Ciro’s mother away from the village. Their paths cross again when they meet 6 years later and they hope that a blossoming friendship will occur. However, Ciro has witnessed something and the priest will not let him stay in the village. The nuns send him to America, and the priest also stipulated that the brothers should be separated. We then follow Ciro and Enza’s lives (Enza also ends up in America) where their paths continue to cross. They start off in New York and the book also takes us to Minnesota too.
This book happens to be an embellishment of Trigiani’s own grandparents. I loved this story as even though set in the past, I can identify with the immigrant experience of the characters. The text is full of wonderful, evocative prose making each of the locations come alive to the reader. I was very moved by this book and highly recommend it.