Give her a crown, because Adriana Trigiani can easily be called the “Queen of Italian-American Love Stories.”
From her “Big Stone Gap” series to her young adult “Viola” novels, Trigiani captures the essence of the big love shown by the Italian people who have made America their home. Her latest novel, “The Shoemaker’s Wife,” a sweeping love story that spans decades and continents, is no exception.
The story follows the lives of two Italian children. Ciro Lazzari is left with the nuns at a convent high in the Italian Alps when his widowed mother can no longer care for him and his older brother. Ciro longs for a family and spends his life trying to find his true love.
In a town nearby, Enza Ravanelli is the oldest daughter of a large Italian family. She watches as her parents struggle to make ends meet. Ciro and Enza end up meeting by chance when tragedy strikes the Ravanelli family. They have no idea how their lives will be entwined from that moment forward.
After some trouble at the convent, Ciro is given the option of either being sent to a workhouse or immigrating to America to become apprenticed to a shoemaker in New York City. He chooses America and finds a life of hard but good work, and plenty of adventure and romance.
Enza also comes to America with her father but arrives in New York gravely ill from a serious bout of sea-sickness. She happens to see Ciro at the hospital where he is being treated for a traumatic cut to his hand, and the two are pleased to see each other. It would be the first of several chance encounters between the two, but time, circumstances, and life in general pull them away from each other.
Ciro makes quite a name for himself in the shoemaking business but finds himself enlisting for World War I in order to gain his citizenship and prove his worth in America. Meanwhile, after a horrendous beginning to her American dream, Enza finds a pleasing life as a talented seamstress for the Metropolitan Opera House, sewing for the great Enrico Caruso.
Life continues to draw Enza and Ciro together, and they finally connect with each other only to have tragedy strike again.
Trigiani pulls her readers deep into this mesmerizing story of romance during one of the most intriguing times in American history. She based the general premise of this story on her grandparents’ lives, and the love and care that was put into the writing of this tale is evident.