Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

I've been wanting to recommend this book for a while now and I'm not sure what's been holding me back. The more I've thought about the book the more I think how nice the story was and how skeptical of a reader I've become.

The Shoemaker's Wife is a well written, and romantic love story of a realistic yet beautiful marriage. And yet while reading it I found myself thinking not enough was happening, that the plot line wasn't inherently exciting somehow. But this isn't due to a fault of the author or story, I think it points more towards my own desensitization at how marriage is usually portrayed, especially within modern and contemporary fiction. My reaction to The Shoemaker's Wife should have been one of appreciation, I should have been revelling in the fact that marriage was being portrayed so accurately, by exploring true love over the course of a long period of time and sacrifice, not simply a passionate spurt of attachment. 

Adriana Trigiani tells a woven tale of the lives of two Italian children at the turn of the twentieth century living only a few miles apart in the Italian Alps, who grow through difficult and trying circumstances, but who don't pursue their romance until a chance meeting after they have both immigrated to New York. Its a very romantic plot to start from, but what is the best part of the story is following both Ciro and Enza through their difficult childhoods, the daring and courageous ways in which they both risk travelling around the world to better their lives, and the hard work it takes to make a successful life in the New World by themselves and together. The journey for the reader is a good one, both characters struggle and grow. Not only through the difficult process of emmigrating to a new country, but in the society that surrounds them. World War I breaks out and Ciro dutifully volunteers in assitence to the country that gave him new opportunities, yet he returns scarred with a keen sense of the importance of love being at the heart of life.

Enza almost martyrs herself for her family back home in Italy by working a slaves hours in a sewing factory and then all night for the "family" who allow her to stay in their home. The two characters come to realize their love, and Trigliani's description of their marriage is a interesting depiction of a real marriage that is very uncommon in today's literature. It was so refreshing to see a marriage written about in a respectful and meaningful way.

The faith of both characters is not ignored either which I also found refreshing. The Church is portrayed in a good light throughout the novel, even when Ciro's local priest abuses his power and has Ciro and his brother thrown out of town. Enza's faith is always shown in a reverential manner and stays with her throughout her life and it impacts her marriage in different ways that I enjoyed reading about. Most importantly though, in a novel depicting the entire lives of characters from turn of the century Italy it was both historically accurate and keen of the author to at least portray the faith of the characters rather than predictably downplay or ignore its reality.

If you're looking for a good romance that has substance and a healthy view of marriage along with a great story I think this book is worth your time!

(The Sheenazing Blogger Awards are still going on at A Knotted Life today! Please feel inclined to throw me a vote...or any number of the awesome blogs nominated!)


  1. Thanks for posting this ive been looking for a good read :) congrats on your nomimation by the way.

  2. Love the tenacity of the characters and depiction of inequality in the treatment of immigrants. The relationships that were formed were well developed.

    Cath Brookes (Microsoft Downloads)


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